Friday, April 22

chocolate buttermilk easter cake

In terms of cuteness, Easter is surely the best holiday. Pastel colours, bunnies and chickens easily trump Santa for me. Despite all the simply gorgeous inspiration floating around, I've lately felt utterly uncreative. I feel like Easter has snuck up on me, despite having consumed many cream eggs and hot cross buns over not days, but months. I feel so many baking opportunities have passed me by...

So, wanting to make an Easter present for my co-workers, I drew ideas from both Donna Hay, and a more recent source of inspiration: Tracey Lau. Check out her blog for some absolutely wondrous photography and recipes. This cake is everything Easter is about: equal portions of cuteness and over-consumption of chocolate. My Easter baking may have come a little late, but it has arrived with great force, and I was simply smitten with the results. Isn't this the way baking should always be? 

Ingredients (makes a four-tiered cake)

For cakes:
Recipe from Donna Hay
1 cup water
120 gms butter, chopped
4 tablespoons cocoa, sifted
2 cups plain flour, sifted
1 tsp bicarbonate of (baking) soda, sifted
2 cups caster sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp ground vanilla bean

For filling:
50 gms butter, at room temperature
250 gms cream cheese
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
1/4 cup cocoa, sifted

For chocolate buttercream:
500 gms butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup cocoa
2 cups icing sugar

To decorate:
350 gms fondant
Desired food colourings and sugar decorations

Preheat oven to 150C.

For your decorations, form two-thirds of the fondant into a large ball to form your rabbit's bottom, then make a small ball for it's tail. Create two rabbit feet, using a scalpel or small knife to create his toes. Colour a small amount of remaining fondant grey - form shapes for your rabbit's feet pads. Colour remaining fondant green and slice into grass blades or various lengths and widths. Allow to dry on a sheet of baking paper. 

For the cakes, place the water, butter and cocoa in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the butter has melted. Place the flour, bicarbonate of soda and sugar in a bowl, add the cocoa mixture and whisk to combine. Add the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla and whisk to combine.

Divide mixture between 4 lightly greased 20cm round cake tins lined with non-stick baking paper. Bake for 40 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Allow to cool in the tins for 5 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks to cool completely. Stack two cooled cakes on top of eachother (with baking paper in between each layer to prevent sticking) and with a small, sharp knife, cut a semi-circular hole (about 3 cms deep and 7cm wide) into the cakes - this will form the burrow for your Easter bunny. Refrigerate until needed.

For the cream cheese filling, place the butter and cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 6 - 8 minutes or until pale and creamy. Add the icing sugar and cocoa and beat for a further 6 - 8 minutes or until light and fluffy. To assemble, place bottom layer (the layer that has the base of the already cut burrow) on a serving plate and thinly spread with one quarter of the frosting. Repeat with remaining layers, then use any left over frosting to fill in gaps between layers. Refrigerate for an hour. 

For chocolate buttercream, beat butter in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth and pale. Add cocoa and beat until combined. With motor running on a low speed, gradually add icing sugar, increasing speed to high between additions. Stop when mixture is light and fluffy, but holds it's shape - you may not need all of the icing sugar. 

Remove cake from fridge and very cover very thinly in a layer of buttercream. Chill for 30 minutes. 

Once crumb coat of buttercream has cooled, coat cake and burrow liberally with buttercream - you can be messy with this part. Vertical strokes will make it look more tree-like, and remember to add rings to the top of the tree stump. Add roots around the base of tree. Insert bunny into the burrow, adding his tail and feet, using a paintbrush dipped in water to secure. Decorate tree with grass, flowers and Easter eggs as you like. 

Standing over twenty centimeters tall, this proud, four-tiered chocolate cake means business, was incredibly heavy and could serve twenty, quite honestly. But the cake itself is lovely and moist, not overly sweet, and stores incredibly well. I made my cakes a few days in advance and kept them in the fridge for three days before decorating: you would never have known. 

The original cake recipe called for two 12cm split cakes, resulting in a much smaller four tiered cake, but I have doubled all quantities. If you don't have an army of grateful coworkers or family members to consume your gorgeous cake, maybe scale it down a little. Or go overboard. It is Easter. 

Have a lovely break, readers. 

Recommended baking soundtrack: Sea Wolf - Leaves in the River.


  1. AWWWW! What a gorgeous cake! This is just the sweetest idea. I love his little tail

  2. Hi! I've tried to make your cake and it's not working. The cake is super flat. When you say '1 tsp bicarbonate of (baking) soda', do you mean baking powder? I used baking soda (the orange container)... Please help, i'm trying to make this cake for my daughter's 4th birthday. Now I have to make an other cake but I wanna make sure i'm not doing anything wrong

    1. I was your post I went to google and here is your answer hope it helps
      What is the difference between baking powder, baking soda and bicarbonate of soda? What are their different applications?

      Baking soda and bicarbonate of soda are different names for the same thing; in Australia, we mostly refer to it as bicarbonate of soda, but overseas, especially in America, it is referred to as baking soda. They aren’t interchangeable, but bicarbonate of soda and baking powder are both leavening agents. When included in a batter, the leavening agent causes air bubbles (produced by stirring, whipping or beating) to expand when cooked – causing it to ‘rise

    2. Are you using Dutch process or regular cocoa? They react differently with leavening agents

    3. This is my go to choice cake and has always worked for me on any project. Hope I am no stepping on any toes.

  3. Its look soooooo cute...!!!Amber it's very real looking cake. It's look like one real rabbit trying to go into house. Amazing work by you. Your cake is Just Made for Easter.!

  4. This has got to be one of the cutest Easter cakes I have ever seen... I am going to attempt it for our family Easter Dinner this year, everyone will love it, I am sure... Thank you so much for the idea!!

  5. What exactly is 'caster' sugar? Is that the same as granulated sugar in the US.?

    Also, which cocoa - Dutch process or regular cocoa?

  6. Hello, I tried making this cake for Easter. Like one of the comments earlier, the cakes came out super flat. The recipe says it should be 20cm high when completed - I will be lucky if mine reaches 10cm, probably more like 8cm! It is still very tasty, but just wondering what's gone wrong. I was very particular with getting all of the ingredients right.

  7. I just made this for our family easter party tomorrow! Thank you for an awesome recipie and instructions so easy to follow!

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Wow.. So Cute cake. Thanks for sharing cake recipe with us,Its really helpful for me.

  10. just so adorable !! I may try the smaller version or I'll eat to much of it LOl !!!thank you for sharing

  11. If her Chocolate Cake recipe isn’t working for you it may also be the climate that you live in. For instance if you live in a very humid climate like the southern United States you will need both Baking Powder and Baking Soda. Look up chocolate Cake recipes online with similar ingredients and adjust the recipe accordingly. It also matters if you live in the mountains or at sea level as far as your leavening goes. Or you may just want to use two cake boxes and make 4 round cakes (looking at the picture you need only 3 layers, so keep one layer for something else)

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