Try this Bunny Cake, first made in our family in the 1950's! I've remade it today with the very same pattern Mom got from the Durkee company. What fun to make it again after all those years!
This one is made from Mom’s 1953 Bunny Cake Pattern!
It’s too bad, but I don’t have a photograph of the Bunny Cake Mom made back in the 1950’s, so I cannot compare her homemade cake with my version of the 1953 pattern. It was cute and tasted so good with her homemade white frosting with white and colored coconut. She was always trying out new cake designs for family birthdays or for the wedding cakes she made for friends. She made bunny cakes, chicken shaped cakes, cakes with dolls and pretty dresses, etc. I’m sure her Bunny Cake version was much better than mine.
I remember Mom used to make the bunny cake around Easter time. I spotted some bunnies in our lawn the other day so I thought I’d make it now even thought it’s past Easter. Here’s saluting all those cute little bunnies that keep running around in our yard, chewing on my just blossomed tulips!
I was surprised to find her pattern and hand-written notes when I was searching through her boxes of recipes for another recipe. I should not have been surprised since she saved everything. She had actually saved 3 copies each of the “Durkees” patterns which included copies of a bunny cake and a chicken cake. They were printed on a crispy type of parchment paper which had yellowed over the last 60-some years, and she had even made copies of the patterns on heavier paper. That version was covered with her handwritten notes from the 50’s, and still had some oil marks from the cakes she had made so many years ago. She had such beautiful cursive handwriting.
What a find! I remember watching her when I was a little girl, being so precise with the measurements while mixing the cakes. Then after baking and chilling them, she would carefully cut the pieces out of the cake. Exactness was important to her since she usually did not have any extra cake layers to cut from. That would have been too wasteful.
Then she would carefully mix the coconut with the food coloring in a glass Mason jar, again, carefully squirting drops of pinks or greens one at a time so as not to get the coconut too dark. Again, she was so careful not to waste any food coloring. Even after she was done using the colored coconut on the cake, she would save the leftover for another cake later on. Nothing went to waste in our house.
I’m not sure what cake recipe she used for her Bunny Cake, but this one would work very well. For this cake I used a homemade Double Vanilla Cake recipe plus a Funfetti Cake mix. Since I was making this for nieces and nephews, I thought I’d include a fun cake full of sprinkles for the bunny portion of the cake.
I made this cake with four 8” round layers. I used two from the Funfetti cake mix and two from a white cake mix. This will provide 12-14 healthy sized pieces.
Prep your pans:
Brush each pan on the sides and bottom with butter or shortening. Lay a round piece of parchment paper in the bottom or each pan so the cake comes out in one nice layer. Brush the top of the parchment paper with butter or shortening, too. Be sure to powder the pans’ sides and bottoms with a light dusting of flour. Tap the excess flour out into the trash.
Preheat the oven to: 350F degrees.
Gather up your Cake Ingredients:
One Funfetti (sprinkles) cake mix. 15-18 oz.
One Vanilla cake mix. 15-18 oz.
Plus, the ingredients listed on the cake mix boxes.
10 oz Shredded coconut for coloring the base and coating the bunny.
Green food coloring to color the coconut for the base
10-12 Jelly beans to line up along the base of the bunny legs
One 10” round wooden base to place the cake on, or some other sturdy base
Gather up your Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Ingredients:
(For this bunny cake I made 1 ½ of this recipe.)
1/2 C Butter, softened
1/2 C Shortening, white
2 t Vanilla extract
7 C Powdered sugar
2-4 T Whole Milk or heavy whipping cream
Pink food coloring (to color 2 T of frosting for the ears)
Make the Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:
- In a medium bowl and with an electric mixer, beat the butter and shortening until light and fluffy. I use butter for the wonderful flavor and shortening to help firm up the buttercream frosting for spreading or piping. (If the weather is hot, you may want to use more shortening and less butter.)
- Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl periodically.
- Gradually add half of the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. If your powdered sugar is lumpy, sift it in.
- Add a tablespoon of milk and beat until light and fluffy.
- Add or sift in the rest of the powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
- - Add and beat in enough of the milk to make a nice fluffy frosting. It should be firm but easy to spread. I don’t pipe any frosting for the Bunny Cake.
- If the frosting is too limp, add more powdered sugar. If it’s too stiff, add a little more milk or heavy cream.
Pink frosting for the ears:
- Put a couple tablespoons of frosting into a small bowl and squeeze one drop of pink food coloring in and stir. I look for a pale pink, but if you want a brighter pink, add another drop of food coloring.
- Carefully spread the frosting in the ear area. Don't be afraid to scrape it out if you think you got too much in there. I've even used a Q-tip to get excess pink frosting out of there! Have fun with it.
Green coconut for the base of the cake:
- In a zipper plastic bag or pint jar, place a cup of shredded coconut.
- Sprinkle in 3-4 drops of green food coloring.
- Shake until all the coconut is colored.
- Sprinkle more drops of food coloring in the coconut if you want it darker.
- Set aside in a sealable plastic bag until you’re ready to place it on the cake (so it doesn’t dry out).
Frost and Assemble the Bunny Cake:
- Set the two vanilla round cake layers aside for the base. I know the directions only call for one layer as the base, but I like to set the bunny up a little higher so, I created a two-layer cake base.
- Cut out the paper bunny pattern pieces, and lay on the Funfetti cake layers, cutting according to the directions.
- I refrigerate the bunny cake pieces for a couple of hours in order to make frosting the crumb coat a little easier.
- Spread a thin crumb coat layer of frosting on the bigger sides of the Funfetti cake pieces.
- Spread a thin crumb coat layer of frosting on the top of each vanilla cake round layer.
- Refrigerate all pieces again for a couple hours.
- I use a 10” round wooden round base under the bottom layer. It’s a very sturdy base. You can wrap it in plastic wrap or foil if you like.
- Spread about 2 tablespoons of frosting on the base so the bottom cake layer sticks in place.
- Lay 4 pieces of parchment paper around about 3” in from the edge around the wood base for the cake, letting about 2” hang out. You’ll slide these out later after you are completely done frosting and brushing the coconut on the cake, leaving you a clean base.
- Set one of the vanilla cake layers on your base.
- Spread a generous layer of frosting on the top of the bottom layer.
- Set the second layer on top and spread a generous layer of frosting over the top and around the sides.
- Assemble the bunny cake pieces on top of the two-layer base, according to the directions. Make sure the two main bunny body pieces have been slathered with frosting so they stick together on top of the two layers of cake.
- Once I placed the two main bunny body pieces, I poke one wooden skewer vertically through each of the two body pieces from top to bottom of the double layers to help the bunny body pieces stand up. Then I cut off any excess skewers from the top of the bunny’s back. These skewers are especially helpful if you are taking the cake to an event. Once they are skewered and the sticks are cut off, your cake will stay in place even if the cake gets jostled a little. Just be aware the skewers are there when you cut the cake.
- Now, frost the entire cake, adding the legs on the sides and the tail on the butt area, according to the pattern directions. I actually used a large round chocolate covered dried strawberry as the tail. But I coated it with frosting and rolled it in white coconut before I “stuck” it on the bunny’s behind. You can also use a round piece of cake to make the bunny tail.
- Place two pieces of parchment paper on the top of the double layer base of the cake while you put the white coconut on the bunny portion of the cake, the ears, legs, body and tail. This will keep the white coconut from getting on the base where you will put the green coconut.
- Take the two pieces of parchment paper off the top of the two-layer base. Spread the green coconut on the top of the base. If you like, spread it around the sides, too. I have left the sides of the base free of green coconut since I know many people are not that fond of having coconut ALL over the cake. It’s your preference if you want green coconut around the sides of the base.
- When you’re done, slide the pieces of parchment from under the cake base. This will give you a clean base around the cake in case you want to pipe any frosting around the bottom, or place other decorations onto the bottom edge of the cake.
This is a fun cake to make and get kids to help you with. I was a little nervous, but mine does look kind of like what Mom made all those years ago. I’m sure hers was perfect. This is definitely a fun cake to "Bake your own Memories!"