Chicks and bunnies are universal symbols of spring and, to an extent, Easter.
Brighten up your Easter table — or any springtime celebration — with one of these whimsical cakes. No special pans are required, and decorating is as simple as slathering on frosting and adding some candy or a sprinkle of colored sugar here and there.
Mix and match cakes and frostings as desired. We particularly enjoyed the Devil’s Food Cake paired with Malted Milk Buttercream, but it is equally good with Coconut Buttercream.
Cream cheese frosting is a classic choice for a carrot cake, but Coconut Buttercream would be a delicious alternative. Cream cheese on Coconut Cake is excellent, too.
The choice is yours.
■ For best results and easier decorating, give each cake a crumb coat by coating the entire cake with a very thin layer of frosting, then chill the cake in the refrigerator or freezer just until the frosting is hard. This seals in the crumbs and prevents them from mucking up the frosting.
■ Use an offset spatula to apply frosting.
■ Always line pans with parchment paper. Greasing the paper is optional.
■ Cool cakes in pans completely before assembling and frosting.
Easter Chick Cake
4 cups desired frosting tinted yellow (recipes follow)
1 (8- or 9-inch) round cake (recipes follow)
1 (8- or 9-inch) square cake (recipes follow)
Divide the frosting into 3 bowls: a bowl with about 1 cup of frosting, a bowl with 2 tablespoons of frosting and a bowl with about 3 cups of frosting. Add a drop or two of red food coloring to the 2 tablespoons of frosting and mix well. (This is for the beak). Set the 3 cups of frosting aside.
Use the 1 cup of frosting to “glue” the cake pieces together and for the crumb coat.
Place a very small dollop of frosting in the center of a baking sheet. Cover baking sheet with parchment paper, using the dollop of frosting to “glue” the parchment in place.
Loosen the round and square cakes from their pans by running a knife around the edges. Peel off parchment paper. Trim the top crusts off the cakes to level.
Arrange the round cake, cut-side down, just slightly right of center on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
Using a sharp knife, cut one corner from the square cake to make a 4-by-2 ½-by 2 ½-inch triangle. Cut a 4 ½-inch circle from the center of the square cake. Cut a very small triangle from the remaining scraps of square cake to make a beak.
You should have an 8-inch circle (the body), a 4 ½-inch circle (the head), a 4-by-2 ½-by-2 ½-inch triangle (the tail) and a very small triangle (the beak).
Trim the 4 ½-inch cake so that it fits snugly against one side of the 8-inch cake to create the head and body of a chick. Arrange triangle on the side of 8-inch circle. Once you have the head and tail positioned on the body the way you like them, use a bit of frosting to glue them together, then glue the beak to the head.
Coat the entire cake with a very thin layer of frosting and refrigerate or freeze until frosting is hard, 30 minutes to one hour.
Frost cake as desired with the remaining 3 cups of frosting, using the orange frosting for the beak.
Makes 1 cake.
Bunny Cake made with Coconut Cake and Coconut Buttercream
4 cups desired frosting, untinted
2 (8- or 9-inch) round cakes
Marshmallows, candy, colored sugar, sprinkles and/or shredded coconut for decorating
Measure about 1 cup of the frosting into a bowl. Set the remaining 3 cups aside.
Place a very small dollop of frosting in the center of a baking sheet. Cover baking sheet with parchment paper, using the dollop of frosting to “glue” the parchment in place. Arrange baking sheet on work surface so the short sides are parallel to the counter.
Loosen the cakes from their pans by running a knife around the edges. Remove from pans. Peel off parchment paper.
Arrange one cake round just below the center of the parchment-lined baking sheet.
Using a sharp knife, cut an oval from two opposite sides of the remaining cake — as if following the stitches on a baseball — to create the ears and bow tie.
Place the bow-tie piece at the bottom of the whole cake round and arrange the ears at the top. They can be angled straight or to the side, whichever looks more rabbit-like to you.
Coat the entire cake with a very thin layer of frosting and refrigerate or freeze until frosting is hard, 30 minutes to one hour.
Frost cake as desired with the remaining 3 cups of frosting. Use candy, sprinkles or colored sugar to decorate bunny’s face, ears and bow tie as desired. (We used Cadbury Mini Eggs, marshmallows and colored sugar.)
Makes 1 bunny cake.
Carrot-flavored Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
4 cups frosting, tinted orange
1 (7-by-11-inch) cake PLUS 6 cupcakes OR 1 (9-by-13-inch) cake
Green Edible Easter Grass (such as Galerie brand, available in 1-ounce bags near the Easter candy)
Measure about 1 cup of the frosting into a bowl. Set the remaining 3 cups aside.
Place a very small dollop of frosting in the centers of 2 baking sheets. Cover baking sheets with parchment paper, using the dollop of frosting to “glue” the parchment in place.
Remove cake from pan. On a work surface, cut cake into three triangles by making a cut lengthwise from one top corner to the center of the bottom edge; repeat cut on the other side, from opposite top corner to center bottom edge. You should have an isosceles triangle in the center and a right triangle on each side.
Place the center triangle on one baking sheet.
On the other baking sheet, press the right triangles together to create a carrot-shaped cake.
Apply a thin layer of frosting to each cake and refrigerate or freeze until frosting is hard, 30 minutes to one hour. Frost cakes as desired with the remaining 3 cups of frosting. Decorate tops with the Easter grass.
Makes 2 carrot-shaped cakes.
Devil’s Food Cake
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 cup brewed strong coffee or black tea
⅔ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder such as Hershey’s Special Dark
4 ounces finely chopped dark (72 percent cacao) chocolate
1 ⅔ cups gently packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon fine salt
4 eggs PLUS 2 egg yolks
1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare pans by lining bottoms with parchment paper. For a chick: Line 1 (8-inch-by-3-inch) round cake pan and 1 (8-inch) square cake pan. For a bunny: Line 2 (8-inch or 9-inch) round cake pans. For a carrot: Line an 11-by-7-inch baking pan or 13-by-9-inch pan with parchment paper, leaving some overhang on opposite sides; if using an 11-by-7-by-3-inch pan, also line 6 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a saucepan, combine the butter and coffee over low heat. Cook, stirring, until butter melts. Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder and chocolate, whisking until smooth.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar, vanilla and salt. Add melted butter mixture and whisk well. Mix in the eggs and egg yolks.
Sift the flour and baking soda into the chocolate mixture and whisk thoroughly to combine.
Divide batter evenly among the prepared pans. Bake until cakes are springy and a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out with just a few crumbs; 15 minutes for cupcakes; 25 to 30 minutes for round, square pans or 9-by-13-inch pans; or 45 to 50 minutes for a 11-by-7-by-3-inch pan. Cool completely in the pans.
Makes 2 (8- or 9-inch) round cakes; 1 (8- or 9-inch) round and 1 (8- or 9-inch) square cakes; 1 (7-by-11-inch) cake PLUS 6 cupcakes; or 1 (9-by-13-inch) cake.
Recipe adapted from BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts by Stella Parks
Coconut Cake
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup cream of coconut such as Coco Lopez (see note)
½ cup shortening
½ cup butter, softened
1 ½ cups granulated sugar, divided use
1 egg PLUS 4 egg whites, divided use
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ teaspoon coconut extract
½ cup unsweetened flaked coconut
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare pans by lining bottoms with parchment paper. For a chick: Line 1 (8-inch-by-3-inch) round cake pan and 1 (8-inch) square cake pan. For a bunny: Line 2 (8-inch or 9-inch) round cake pans. For a carrot: Line an 11-by-7-inch baking pan or 13-by-9-inch pan with parchment paper, leaving some overhang on opposite sides; if using an 11-by-7-by-3-inch pan, also line 6 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the cream of coconut and milk.
In a large bowl, cream shortening and butter with 1 cup of the sugar. Beat in egg. Add flour mixture alternately with coconut-milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour; add extracts. Add the shredded coconut to the batter.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and remaining ½ cup sugar to soft peaks. Fold egg white mixture into cake batter, just enough to incorporate. Spoon batter into prepared pans and bake 25 to 45 minutes or until cake is springy to the touch and a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely.
Makes 2 (8- or 9-inch) round cakes; 1 (8- or 9-inch) round and 1 (8- or 9-inch) square cakes; 1 (7-by-11-inch) cake PLUS 6 cupcakes; or 1 (9-by-13-inch) cake.
Note: One (15-ounce) can Coco Lopez Cream of Coconut is enough to make this cake plus a batch of Coconut Buttercream.
Carrot Cake Cupcake topped with Easter Grass Photo by Mitchell Pe Masilun
This nut-free carrot cake is lightly spiced with cinnamon and gets a sweet-tart hit from grated apples.
Carrot Cake
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 ¾ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fine salt
½ to 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup full-fat plain yogurt
1 cup butter, melted and cooled OR 1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups coarsely grated carrots
1 cup coarsely grated peeled apple
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare pans by lining bottoms with parchment paper. For a chick: Line 1 (8-inch-by-3-inch) round cake pan and 1 (8-inch) square cake pan. For a bunny: Line 2 (8- or 9-inch) round cake pans. For a carrot: Line an 11-by-7-inch baking pan or 13-by-9-inch pan with parchment paper, leaving some overhang on opposite sides; if using an 11-by-7-by-3-inch pan, also line 6 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt, melted butter or oil, water and eggs.
Whisk egg mixture into flour mixture. Fold in carrots and apple.
Pour batter into the prepared pan(s). Bake 25 to 45 minutes (depending on pan size and shape), or until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan.
Makes 2 (8- or 9-inch) round cakes; 1 (8- or 9-inch) round and 1 (8- or 9-inch) square cakes; 1 (7-by-11-inch) cake PLUS 6 cupcakes; or 1 (9-by-13-inch) cake.
Malted Milk Buttercream
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) butter, at room temperature
¾ cup malted milk powder
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
Yellow food coloring
Red food coloring
In a large bowl, combine the butter, malted milk powder, salt and 2 cups of the confectioners’ sugar and beat with an electric mixer until incorporated. Add the remaining sugar and continue beating until mixture is no longer grainy. Add vanilla and desired food color and beat until frosting is very light and fluffy.
Makes about 4 cups.
Recipe adapted from Cake Magic! by Caroline Wright
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
½ cup butter, softened
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Red and yellow food color
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in confectioners’ sugar, one cup at a time, until frosting is smooth and spreadable. Beat in vanilla. Measure 1/2 cup frosting into a small bowl and add green food coloring to tint to desired shaded. Tint remaining frosting with red and yellow food coloring to create orange-colored frosting.
Makes about 4 cups frosting.
Coconut Buttercream
2 cups (4 sticks) butter, cut into quarters and softened
¼ cup cream of coconut such as Coco Lopez
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons coconut extract
Generous pinch fine salt
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Flaked coconut, for decorating
Beat butter, cream of coconut, extracts and salt on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Beat in sugar, 1 cup at a time, until smooth and incorporated. Increase speed and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Makes about 4 cups frosting.
Recipe adapted from The Perfect Cake from the editors of America’s Test Kitchen
Food on 04/17/2019

This content was originally published here.