April 22, 2011

Easter Menu: Part 3

Pin It This is the third of a three part series with recipes from my Easter menu.

Margaret's Morsels | Easter Bunny Cake

If you don't know what to serve for dessert on Easter, it's not too late to make a bunny cake.  You don't need a special pan, only two 8-inch round cake pans.

I learned how to make this cake in a high school home economics class. My home ec teacher taught us to prepare the cake mix according to the package directions, but that's not how I fix it anymore.

Now days, when I bake a white or yellow cake mix, I use a recipe given to me by a friend that decorates cakes.  Instead of following the directions on the box, add water, Dream Whip, eggs and oil -- applesauce if you want to reduce the amount of fat -- to the cake mix.  The combination of these ingredients makes a packaged cake mix taste homemade.

Margaret's Morsels | Easter Bunny Cake
This is all you need to make a bunny cake.

It's always best for food to be the same size to ensure even cooking.  This is also true in baking.  You want the amount of cake batter in each pan to be equal.  That way, the cakes will be the same size and one won't bake faster than the other.  There are various ways to achieve this.

I use a large cookie scoop and add one scoop of batter at a time to each pan until the batter is used up.  You can do the same thing with a measuring cup.  If you don't want to fool with a scoop or measuring cup, pour the batter into the pans, adding and removing batter, until the pans contain the same amount.

Margaret's Morsels | Easter Bunny Cake

After all the batter is used, tap each pan on the kitchen counter a few times.  This distributes the batter and pops any air bubbles on the surface. Put the pans in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes.  Let the pans cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove the cakes from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

Once the cakes are completely cool, put one in the freezer on a wire rack for about 30 minutes.  You don't want to freeze the cake, but want it very cold.  This makes it less likely to crumble when you cut the cake into the bunny shape.

Put the cake that was in the freezer on a cutting board and cut curves in the side of the cake for the ears.  Use the leftover piece for the bow tie. The remaining cake is the bunny's head.

Margaret's Morsels | Easter Bunny Cake
Cut the second ear from the other side of the cake.

Assemble the pieces on a large cake board or cookie sheet.  If the pieces are too big, trim the ears or bow tie until everything fits.

Margaret's Morsels | Easter Bunny Cake

Frost each part of the cake including the edges with a white frosting, such as vanilla, buttercream or cream cheese.  I buy two 16 ounce containers of frosting to make sure I have enough to cover the whole cake completely.

Once the frosting is applied, sprinkle flaked coconut on top of the frosting to mimic the bunny's fur.  My son doesn't like coconut so I leave it off of the bow tie.  That way, anyone that doesn't like coconut can still have a piece of cake.

You can leave the cake as is, but it's fun to be creative and decorate the cake.  Kids love to help with the decorating.  My son's helped decorate the cake since he was two.  The first year he helped me, it wasn't physically possible to add one more jelly bean to the cake!  Over the years, he's perfected his technique and learned about moderation.

In home ec, we decorated everything -- ears, face and bow tie -- with jelly beans.  However, you don't have to use jelly beans to decorate the cake. As you can see from the picture, one year my son used M&M's and two upside down Hershey's Kisses to decorate the bow tie.  

Instead of jelly beans, additional coconut can be tinted pink and sprinkled on the ears.  The easiest way to tint coconut is in a resealable plastic bag. Dilute some red food coloring with 1/2 teaspoon water and pour over the coconut.  Seal the bag and shake the coconut until it's evenly tinted.

The whiskers can be made out of licorice.  You can also use licorice to outline the bow tie.  The rest of the cake can be decorated with M&M's, Skittles, gum drops, spice drops or any other colorful candy.  There are no steadfast rules so let creativity be your guide. 

The cake is a real crowd pleaser and disappears faster than candy in a child's Easter basket.  No matter what else you serve for Easter dinner, the cake is what everyone will remember.  

Easter Bunny Cake
12 Servings

1 (18 1/4 oz.) pkg. white cake mix
1 cup cold water
1 envelope Dream Whip (dry)
4 eggs
1/3 cup oil or applesauce
2 (16 oz.) containers white frosting (vanilla, buttercream or cream cheese)
flaked coconut (enough to cover cake)
jelly beans or other candy (to decorate the cake)

Put the first five ingredients in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 5 minutes.  Pour batter into two greased and floured 8-inch round cake pans. Bake at 325° for about 40 minutes.  Remove pans from oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove the cakes from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

When the cakes are completely cool, put one cake on a wire rack in the freezer for 30 minutes.  Remove from the freezer and put the cake on a cutting board.  Cut curves in the sides of the cake for the ears.  Use the leftover piece for the bow tie.  Arrange the pieces on a cake board or cookie sheet, using the remaining cake for the bunny's face.  Cover cake with the frosting.  Sprinkle coconut on top of the frosting.  Decorate with jelly beans or other candy.

© Margaret's Morsels

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