Growing up in an Italian family, our Easter desserts tended to be not-so-kid friendly. There was a “wheat pie” that was mealy in texture and flat in flavor together with a traditional fennel (seriously, fennel?!?) cookie that was so rock-hard that my mother feared we would break our teeth on them (undue worry – we had no interest in them.)
Somewhere along the way, an older cousin got wise and concocted a kid dessert – the Bunny Cake. Our Bunny Cake was a vanilla cake with vanilla icing, layered in coconut and candy – kid heaven. The first year she brought it, it was fully decorated and greeted with ooos and ahhs and devoured quickly. But the following year, she thought it would be fun to bring it unconstructed and let the kids participate in putting it together. It instantly became a celebrated tradition.
All these years later, with children of our own, the Bunny Cake endures. Before dinner begins, there is a swirl of activity around the table as the kids assemble the bunny, followed by a proud photo of the finished product. As a parent, I’m a bit horrified by the amount of processed sugar that is lobbed into and onto that cake. But, watching the pure joy that my children and their cousins have in putting it together reminds me to embrace the moment and reflect on how special those moments were for me as a child.
If you’re curious about the Bunny Cake, read on for instructions…
Bake a two-layer round vanilla cake (packaged cake mix works just fine). Cover a baking sheet in foil and place one of the cake rounds in the center (bunny face.) Using a serrated knife, carve opposing crescents out of each side of the second cake round. Those will become your bunny ears and can be placed above the bunny face. The remaining bit of cake round is the bunny’s bow tie and is placed below the bunny face. Ice the cake with vanilla frosting and sprinkle coconut flakes over the face and ears (we dye some of the coconut pink to make the inside of the bunny ears.) Use jelly beans or gum drops for eyes & mouth, colored candies like M&Ms or Skittles for the bow tie and chocolate licorice sliced thin for whiskers.