Serve up the cutest coconut bunny cake for Easter! It’s a nostalgic favorite made from a single yellow 9-inch cake layer and decorated with flaked coconut.
Growing up I remember my mom making a version of this coconut cake around Easter, and she’d use a pink jellybean for a rabbit nose. I thought the whole thing was so clever, and it was truly a special holiday with a bunny cake on our table.
I just had to make one this year. I’ve been missing my family and our big holiday meals, and the tradition of making this cake makes me feel closer to them. It’s fashioned from a single yellow cake layer, and with some easy carving it is transformed into a cute, furry-looking bunny.
This cut-out cake design has been around for decades. I’ve seen so many home-baked versions over the years from friends and neighbors. I didn’t deviate much from the original design. I did opt for edible candy ears instead of the usual construction paper ears, but you should use whatever best suits your time constraints. The candy ears do take a little more effort.
The cake layer is so delicious with a big dose of sour cream added to the batter. Slice it in half, frost with yummy coconut buttercream, and stick it together so that it looks like a big taco.
Cut a notch out of the top of the cake and be sure to save the scraps. It looks fairly bunny body-shaped at this point.
Stick a couple of scrap pieces on top of the head area with frosting and trim it to a roundish shape. The video at the end of this blog post will be helpful to follow for the carving technique – definitely check it out!
Another smaller scrap piece will make the tail on the opposite end of the head. Cover the entire thing with frosting. You don’t have to be too precious with this step, just get it all covered. Shredded coconut will cover up most imperfections.
As I mentioned earlier, mom always made the bunny ears using construction paper. It’s easiest, really. But I decided to make candy ears. I cut out two rabbit ear shapes out of heavy card stock and coated them with a thick layer of candy.
While they’re still wet, lift one end using a toothpick and transfer them to a parchment-lined baking sheet. After a chill in the freezer peel the card stock from the backs of the candy. Again – the video will be helpful here.
Melted pink candy and sanding sugar will give the bunny’s ears more detail. I also brushed the white areas with corn syrup and added coconut for a fuzzy appearance. A little buttercream dotted on the back of a real satin bow holds it in place and makes the cake look cuddly like a toy. (Aw!)
Two black Sixlets eyes and a heart-shaped candy nose gives this bunny a cute face. If you don’t have those candies on hand then black and pink jellybeans will work.
How could I NOT make some green coconut ‘grass’? It’s so classic with this cake. I layered it with grassy green sprinkles and a few gorgeous Sconza Jordan almonds. I could go on and on about how perfect this candy is. Each candy almond is so polished and unblemished. They look like little bird eggs!
This is such a good recipe for a single cake layer. It’s tender and the sour cream helps it retain its softness. It is the perfect blank canvas for nearly any small baking project, but especially this one.
Have a sweet Easter!
Coconut Easter Bunny Cake
- 1 cup 200g granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup 113g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 eggs at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 2/3 cups 200g all-purpose flour
- 1 cup 227g sour cream
- 3 oz. vanilla almond bark melted
- 2 oz. pink candy melting wafers melted
- 1/4 cup pink sanding sugar
- Clear corn syrup or piping gel
- 3 tablespoons unsweet flake coconut
Coconut buttercream and décors
- 1/2 cup 113g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 1/2 cups 1 lb. confectioners’ sugar
- Milk or cream to thin
- 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 black Sixlets candies
- 1 pink heart-shaped hard candy piece or pink jellybean
- 10 oz. two 5 oz. bags unsweet flake coconut
- Green food color
- Grass green sprinkles
- Sconza Pastel Jordan Almonds
For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9″ round cake pan with vegetable shortening, and line the bottom of the pan with parchment.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the sugar and butter until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Increase mixer speed to high for 2 minutes. The batter will become light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla, almond extract, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
- With the mixer on low speed, add 1/3 of the flour to the mixture. Add half the sour cream. Add 1/3 flour followed by the remaining sour cream. Finally, beat in the last 1/3 portion of flour. Beat on low speed to combine after each addition. Scrape down the bowl and incorporate any streaks of flour or sour cream by hand using a large spatula.
- Spoon cake batter into the pan, spreading to level. Bake for 30-35 minutes until browned on top, and a toothpick tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven, and let the cake rest in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn the cake out onto a rack to cool completely before frosting.
For the bunny ears:
- Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay down another sheet of parchment on a work surface. Cut out two bunny ears from thick card stock using scissors. Lay them on the parchment on the work surface. Coat the pieces with the melted white candy spreading past the edges. Use a tooth pick to pick up the end of one piece and carefully transfer it to the parchment-lined pan. Repeat with remaining piece. Freeze until solid, about 10 minutes.
- Use a toothpick to find the edge of the paper on the back of the ears and gently pry/peel it off using the toothpick. Alternatively, place the white candy in a piping bag or zip-top bag with a corner snipped and pipe two bunny ears on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze until solid. Another alternative is to just use the card stock as the ears (this is the way my mom did it – using construction paper).
- Place the melted pink candy in a piping bag or zip-top bag with the corner snipped. Pipe an oval inside the white ears and fill completely with candy. Use a toothpick to fill in gaps. Let stand until set, about 15 minutes. Use a small art brush to coat the pink candy with corn syrup; sprinkle on the sanding sugar. Shake off the excess sugar and brush it away using a small dry art brush. Brush corn syrup on the white area around the pink sugared center. Lightly press flake coconut on; tap away excess. Let stand until set, 30 minutes.
For the frosting and decors:
- Place the butter and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on low speed until crumbly. Add milk or cream to bring the frosting to spreading consistency. Add extracts and mix on high speed until light and fluffy.
- Assemble the cake:
- Place the cake layer on a work surface and cut in half. Spread a generous layer of frosting on one half and sandwich the two pieces together. Stand the cake upright. Trim away an L-shaped notch from about one-third of the way up one end of body to create the head. Attach cake scraps on top of the head area using frosting; trim using a serrated knife to make a round shape (see video). Cover with frosting, rounding the head. Place another small cake scrap at the opposite end of the head for a tail. Cover with frosting and round the tail using an offset spatula. Sprinkle the entire cake generously with coconut, and press it into the sides and crevices of the cake. Refrigerate until firm, 20 minutes.
- Transfer the cake to a serving plate. Cut a line into the top of the head shape using a small paring knife; Insert ears upright, slightly overlapping, with the pinks facing forward. Use leftover frosting to dot the back of the candy heart and attach in the center of the rabbit’s head for a nose. Press the two candy Sixlets into the cake on either side of the face. Combine leftover coconut and green food color. Mix well with gloved hands, rubbing the pieces together between your palms to completely coat. If you don’t have gloves, place coconut and food color in a zip-top bag and massage the bag until the coconut is consistently green. Spoon green coconut around the bunny. Add sprinkles and Jordan almonds to the grass. Serve at room temperature.