Spring is officially here and with Easter fast approaching, we're busy sewing bunny hats! That, and the fact that I spent much of Saturday watching The Great British Baking Show, got me in the mood to bake a Bunny Cake. (Spoiler alert, my cake decorating skills would get me sent home from a baking competition in the first round.) But The Bunny Cake is a simple, lovably kitschy spring dessert that kids will enjoy helping to bake, decorate, and eat. My husband grew up eating this cake every Easter, and we love carrying on the tradition.
You can use any kind of cake you like; white is traditional, carrot would be fitting, but chocolate is my absolute favorite, so that's what we're going with today. You can print the recipe here. And before you start, set out 2 sticks (1 cup) of unsalted butter for the icing. You'll need it at room temperature.
Start by brewing some fresh coffee - you'll need one cup. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour two 9" round cake pans. In a large mixing bowl, measure out 2 1/4 cups flour, 2 cups sugar, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 cup baking cocoa. I like to then sift everything together to get rid of any lumps.
In another bowl, mix together 3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil, 1 cup milk, and 2 large eggs. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry, beating until combined. Then, with a mixing spoon, gently stir 1 cup of hot coffee into the batter. It will take a minute, so even if it seems like the coffee's not mixing in, just keep at it. When the batter is well combined, pour it evenly into the two cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.
Let the cakes cool for a few minutes, then turn them out of the pans onto a rack to finish cooling. When they're cool, cut one of the cakes to make two ears and a bow tie, as in the picture. The other cake will be the bunny's face. Arrange the pieces on a large platter or cutting board.
Make the icing by beating one cup of softened butter until it's smooth. Then sift in 3 cups of powdered sugar and beat until combined. Add 1/2 a teaspoon vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of milk, mixing again until combined. At this point, you can add up to 1 more cup of powdered sugar, stopping when you're happy with the icing's consistency.
When you've finished the face and ears, add food coloring of your choice to the reserved frosting and use it to decorate the bow tie. You can decorate the face however you'd like. I believe jelly beans are the traditional choice for eyes. I used a little of the blue frosting left-over from the bow tie for the eyes on this one, and piped some melted chocolate to make the nose, mouth and whiskers. Polka dots on the bow tie always look good.
I love fancy desserts; puff pastry filled with a little crème pâtissière and home-made jam is high on my list of absolute favorite foods. But there will always be room in this house for the beloved Bunny Cake. I hope you enjoy making it. Have fun, and share your pictures with us!