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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Easter Bunny Cakes

My mom tried very hard to establish traditions. She tried to do the lemon easter egg cake but it never looked quite right. The cake usually crumbled. Frosting just doesn't work as glue to put it back together. Colored coconut doesn't hide it very well, either. We teased her about her ugly cakes, but they still tasted good. And we still loved her. The effort mattered.

Which leads me to my point of the story - it doesn't matter if you're a Pinterest queen or a total Pinterest fail, like me usually. What your family will remember is that you tried. You had fun with it and with them. That's what really matters.

Easter is a time to celebrate re-birth, new chances, and the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Because of His sacrifice, we have the chance to be reborn and renewed and forgiven of our mistakes and sins. And He won't care if our cakes are Pinterest-worthy beauties or total disasters. What will matter is that we tried and did the best we could.

So here's my version of an Easter cake, just as a reminder that even imperfect ugly cakes taste as good as the pretty ones.

Easter Bunny Cake

Colored Coconut, aka fake grass:
1 c. shredded coconut
a few drops of green food coloring

Put coconut in a plastic bag. Add food coloring. Shake until coconut is all about the same shade of green. If it's too light, add a couple more drops of food coloring.

Spread on a plate or pie pan and let it dry for a couple of hours.

Cake - feel free to use your favorite cake mix or recipe, but lemon is traditional in our house for this:
2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter or shortening
1 c. milk
3 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs
2 egg yolks (set aside the whites to use for frosting)
1 t. lemon flavoring
1 t. lemon zest, if desired

Beat all ingredients on low speed just until mixed. Turn speed to high and beat for 3 minutes. Pour into two round cake pans that have been greased and floured. Bake at 350°F for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to finish cooling.

Fluffy Frosting - you can use whatever frosting recipe you want, but I like this fluffy marshmallow version. It's sticky and messy but very tasty:
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. corn syrup
2 T. water
2 egg whites
1 t. vanilla

Mix sugar, corn syrup, and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cook to 242° on a candy thermometer which is firm ball stage - a small amount dropped into a bowl of very cold water forms a ball that holds its shape until squished.

Meanwhile, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Pour hot syrup very slowly into egg whites, beating the whole time. This is a lot like making divinity except it won't get as stiff. Once you get all the syrup incorporated, keep beating and add the vanilla. Beat until peaks form and the frosting is thick and glossy.

To make bunnies:
Take a large serving tray or plate. Cut one round cake in half. Set the halves up on end on the plate to make a half circle, double layer cake set on its side. You can put some frosting between the layers to hold it in place or use a thin layer of strawberry or raspberry jam because it tastes good with lemon cake. Frost the cake with the fluffy frosting. Add two red or pink jelly beans as eyes. Cut ears from pink construction paper and stick into the cake towards one end to make a head. Sprinkle the green coconut on the plate to make grass. Add jelly beans as desired.

To make a cake like my mom's cake:
Crumble half the cake trying to get it out of the pan. Stick the pieces together on a plate, gluing with frosting. If it still looks like a round cake, drop it a couple of times. Glue it together with more frosting. It should be a lopsided weird looking pile of cake crumbs and frosting. Sprinkle coconut across the cake then dump a giant bag of jelly beans over the frosting on top. Set the cake aside somewhere the kids can sneak most of the jelly beans out of the frosting before you serve the cake.

Serve with a spoon since the frosting isn't holding it together. It won't matter because everyone will enjoy it anyway.