Thinking back to Easters when our boys were grow- ing up, four themes emerge – decorating the house, egg hunts, panorama sugar eggs, and celebrating with family and friends around the table.
Decorating for Easter always begins on our front porch weeks before the big day. A lush springtime wreath brightens the door, but the focal point is a whimsical, 4-foot-tall plush bunny found in a party store years ago. At his feet, I place a wooden wheelbarrow filled with Easter grass and large, colorful plastic eggs.
I love setting my table with white linens and pastel napkins, gold chargers, my grandmother’s floral china edged in gold, delicate stemmed crystal, and silver flatware. For a touch of whimsy, my centerpiece often features a vintage-inspired rabbit on a silver tray, surrounded by Easter grass, colored eggs, foil-wrapped chocolates, and other accents.
I like to serve a dessert that satisfies the kid in all of us, and nothing garners more oos’s and ahh’s than my Easter Bunny Cake.
1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons sifted cake flour
3 tablespoons cocoa
3 tablespoons special dark cocoa
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3⁄4 cup sugar
1⁄2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup milk
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1⁄2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
Tiny jelly beans for eyes and nose
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, stir together cake flour, cocoas, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 8 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat flour mixture into creamed mixture, alternately with the sour cream and milk, to form a thick, creamy batter. Stir in vanilla.
Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan and insert a paper liner into one cup of a muffin tin. Spoon batter into the muffin cup to fill it 1⁄2 full. Pour the remaining batter into the cake pan. Bake cupcake 13 to16 minutes, and the cake 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove them from the oven and cool the cake 20 minutes. Remove it from the pan and cool completely.
Buttercream Frosting Ingredients:
1⁄2 cup unsalted butter, softened
5 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar dash of salt
1⁄4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter until smooth. Gradually add 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar and the salt, and cream well. Beat in remaining confectioners’ sugar, alternately with the milk until the frosting is thick and smooth. Stir in vanilla.
Meringue Bunny Ears Ingredients:
2 egg whites
1⁄4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1⁄4 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup sugar
Pink Luster Dust, for garnish, if desired
Preheat oven to 225 degrees. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, whip egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and vanilla. Whip until the whites form soft peaks. Add sugar, a little at a time, and whip until whites are glossy and form stiff peaks.
Transfer meringue to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, adding a dab of meringue to each corner of the tray to secure the paper. Pipe 4 to 5-inch length bunny ears with a zig-zag motion. Bake 1 hour, turn the oven off, and allow the ears to dry 2 to 3 hours with the oven door closed. Peel off the parchment, cool ears completely on a wire rack, and store between layers of parchment paper in an airtight container.
Slice cake layer in half, turn upside down, and frost with buttercream. Place the two layers together and stand them upright on a platter to form the body. Remove the paper liner from the cupcake, turn it upside down, and place it at one end of the cake to form the head. Frost the bunny with buttercream, adding extra buttercream where the head and body are joined. Garnish with coconut.
Shortly before serving, insert jelly beans to form bunny eyes and nose. Gently insert ears into the frosting where the head and body join. If desired, brush the inside of the ears lightly with pink Luster Dust. Surround the bunny with Easter grass and garnish with colored eggs, jellybeans, and foiled wrapped chocolates.
Yield: One Bunny Cake