Bunny cake

When I have a special occasion I know I have to do a cake. There are a few days per year when I challenge myself to try a new type of cake. This time the occasion was a special one, my daughter turning 8 years old. When I asked her what kind of cake she would like, I somehow hoped that she would answer a doll cake, as I already did some similar ones before. But no, she decided on a bunny cake. No, it is not an Easter cake (although would it could fit also for this), it is a birthday cake. 
My challenge was then to do an animal cake for the first time in my life. Bunny she wished for, then bunny should be.
I went for a simple version, without complicated 3D layers for decoration. This is a big cake made from 2 sponge cakes that are cut in such a way that they look like a bunny. And when I say a big cake, I mean an almost 4kg cake that can be cut into at least 30 portions. 

During my baking cake experience over the years, I tried to avoid as much as I could to make very sweet cakes. But for this time, I wanted to try myself some classic recipes that I avoided so much over the years due to a high amount of sugar and butter inside. 
A simple calculation with the total amount of sugar is 150g of sugar for each sponge cake, 600g for the cream, and 1kg from the sugar paste. That is a total of 1900g of sugar! Yes, there are 2 cakes made here, so we should divide this by 2, meaning that the amount for one cake is 900g. As well, if you calculate the butter, it arrives to 450g of butter per cake. Still way to much sugar and butter in a cake for me. My daughter wanted absolutely a cake covered in sugar paste, but this is totally optional. The consistency of the cream is perfect to decorate the cake so, honestly (unless of a special request), the sugar paste is not needed.  Now well, my daughter is turning 8 only once in her life ... and such a sweet cake is not something that she eats regularly. 

Making this cake took some time. During the day I have other duties, I spread the work over 3 days. The first day was the sponge cakes baking. You can well do this in advance if you keep it in the fridge. The next day, was the preparation of the Swiss buttercream and the last day was for decoration activities.

Indeed, this might not be a healthy dessert but there are some interesting advantages for the one who is preparing it (meaning me :) ) 

Swiss buttercream is a real pleasure to work with. It is smooth, silky, consistent and I cannot describe it better. Its secret is the big amount of butter that enters inside, It is the butter that makes the cream so silky. This specific cream requires that you cook the egg whites in advance like you do for meringues. You need to cook them before they will be mixed with butter.

Needless to say that when I put it on the table for the birthday party of my daughter, her best friends were amazed and the atmosphere was full of woooows! When put on plates to be served, the sugar paste was eaten first. My daughter, who is very picky about the creams that I put between the layers of the cakes really appreciated the silky and sweet part of it. In the end, my daughter was happy with her birthday cake and that is what matters for me the most.


Sponge for 1 cake of 18cm. 

  • 6 eggs (whites and yolks separated)
  • 200g flour
  • 150g sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons of milk (water is fine as well)
For this cake you need 2 sponge cakes of 18cm, so be sure you have the double of the above quantities for a sponge cake.

Filling (Swiss buttercream):

  • 10 egg whites
  • 900g butter (at least 80% fat)
  • 600g sugar
  • 150g raspberry sauce

+ 1kg sugar paste ( this is just for decoration purposes, so if you want to reduce the sweetness and calories of your cake, just decorate only with the cream)

+ food coloring for the decorations

+ 2 tablespoons vanilla essence to moist the sponge cake layers


Prepare the sponge cakes in advance. You can even do it one day before.  
    1. Start by preparing the baking pan. I used a flexible baking ring that I set for 18cm diametre. Any pan will work (can be 16cm or 20cm) but the bigger the pan the more space the bunny cake will take. 
      Prepare the pan by buttering it on all the sides or use parchment paper so the cakes do not stick. I also use wet bake strips outside the pan when baking to get the cake flat but this totally optional. If you do not use it you get a bump in the middle of the sponge cake, which is very easy to cut.
      Put the pan aside, turn on the oven at 180ºC to preheat, and let's start the composition. 
    2. Beat the egg whites until the foam is raised. I use a standing mixer on a high speed but a hand mixer is fine as well.
    3. Add the sugar and continue to beat the egg whites. It takes some minutes of beating until the foam is glossy and has stiff peaks.
    4. In another bowl, beat the egg whites with milk. It takes also several minutes on high-speed mixing until they foam as well and they become more white.
    5. Go back to your beaten egg whites and pour the mixed yolks over them. 
    6. Turn the mixer on its lowest speed to combine the 2. At this stage, mix it as less as you can.
    7. Sift the flour and baking powder.
    8. Add these dry ingredients, one spoon at a time, over the egg composition, and mix on the lowest speed just until they are combined. To be sure that you minimize the movements at this stage you can also do this step by hand. I am the kind of person who likes to minimize the time and effort, so I prefer to do everything in the mixer if possible. So, I mix just until the flour is incorporated.  
    9. Pour the composition into the baking pan and level it with the spatula on top.
    10. Bake it at 180ºC for 35 minutes. Every oven is different so do not take this timing by the book. Test your cake with a wooden stick in the center, and if it gets out dried then it is baked.
    11. Take the sponge cake out of the oven, let it cool for 20 minutes in the pan and just after, remove it from the pan to cool completely on a wire rack.
    12. Now you'll need to bake the second sponge cake by following all the above steps. If you have 2 pans and enough space in your oven, you can do them both at the same time, but I don't, so I bake one sponge cake after another.
Prepare the Swiss buttercream:

  1. Put the egg whites and sugar in a bowl that is heat resistant because you'll need to put them later on a bain-marie. I use the stainless steel bowl of the mixer that I put over a pan on which I added some water. The water in the pan should not touch the bowl with the eggs and sugar.
  2. Turn on the heating for this bain-marie system and mix the eggs with a whisk. The composition needs to reach 70ºC and in the meantime, the sugar will be already dissolved. Use a food thermometer to measure the temperature of the eggs.
  3. Then, remove the bowl from the hot pan and put it under the mixer. Turn it on at a high speed and let it make the meringue for a few minutes of mixing. 
  4. When the meringue is stiff, we'll need to add the butter, spoon by spoon, or piece by piece while continuing to mix. During the mixing, the temperature of the eggs is lowering but as I used the same metallic mixing bowl, the meringue will be ready before the egg whites arrive at the room temperature. I use then the butter that was taken out from the fridge just 10-15 minutes before (when I started the cream). But if you use another mixing bowl and your meringue arrived to room temperature when mixed then is better to use the butter at room temperature not cold from the fridge. The butter needs to be added cube by cube (let's say of 2cm size) or spoon by spoon depending on its form. What is happening when you add the butter is that the meringue will lose its nice stiff shape, but just continue to mix as it will come back. If it doesn't (because maybe your butter or meringue was too warm), put your bowl in the fridge for a few minutes, and restart the mixing. Ideally, if both meringue and butter are at room temperature the cream gets very nice.
  5. When the cream got stiff again, I split it into 2, because on one part I added the raspberry sauce. The one with raspberry was meant to sit between the cake layers while the white one to sit on the borders and top. The point was that the sugar paste may be a bit transparent when put on top of the cake and if you have a pink buttercream under then your cake might not look pure white.
Assembling of the cake:
  1. First, you need to cut the ears of the bunny. Take one of the sponge cake and with the help of the baking pan borders mark 2 ovals on the sides of the cake. Leave a space between them of 4-5cm so you also get a nice ribbon.
  2. With these markings on top of the cake, cut vertically the cake following them. You'll end up with 2 ears and one ribbon.
  3. Then, you'll need to look for a basement for your cake. It can be a big tray or it can be what I used: polystyrene covered in aluminum foil. 
  4. The cakes should be now cut in layers horizontally. I cut mine in 5 layers. All 4 cake pieces need to be cut this way, otherwise, you'll not get the same height for all of your cake.
  5. Prepare now a liquid made from 500ml of water and 2 tablespoons of vanilla essence. You'll use this to moist your sponge cake layers.
  6. Take now the main cake (the round head of the bunny) and put the first layer on a round paper cake board that fits the size of your cake. This is useful for transferring the cake later to its big support. 
    I assembled the layers on top of a rotating stand so I do not have to turn myself around the cake.
  7. On top of your first layer, pour 3 tablespoons of water with vanilla to get your cake moist.
  8. Take now a piping bag with a flat tip and fill it with the raspberry cream. 
  9. Cover the sponge cake layer with raspberry buttercream. If you use a piping bag there is no need to layer it with a knife.
  10. Take another layer from the sponge cake, put it on top, and repeat the same steps as you did for the first layer: moist, then cover with cream. You'll do this until you finished the 5 layers. On top of the last layer I did not add the cream as it has a pink color so leave it as it is for the moment. Then repeat the entire process for all the remaining parts: the 2 ears and the ribbon. It takes a bit of time, as in total you have 5 layers x 4 cake parts but you'll see how rewarding is to see your cake getting its shape. 
  11. When the layering is done for all 4 pieces of cake, the outside needs to be done. For this, I change to the remaining white buttercream (without raspberries) that I also put in a piping bag with the same flat tip. Cover all the pieces of cakes with the white cream on the sides and on top.
  12. Using a special spatula for leveling, or a big knife or a dough knife level the cake on the sides and on top. The idea is to cover the sponge cake layers completely and shape the cakes nicely. It doesn't have to look perfect because this is not the last layer, but the shape has to be good.
  13. Put the cakes in the fridge until you stretch the sugar paste as thin as you can. 
  14. Cover all the cake pieces in white sugar paste. I learned that it is much better to do the sides and then the top in separate sheets of sugar paste. It is more difficult to cover the entire piece with one sheet of sugar paste without tearing it and without dealing with the extra waves of sugar paste. Mine it did, and I learned my lesson.
  15. When all the pieces are covered in sugar paste place them carefully on the big cake support, arranging nicely the ears, the bunny face, and its ribbon. Put the cake in the fridge.
  16. Prepare now the decorations of the bunny. Here you can get as creative as you can with the tools and colors you have available. For me, it was my daughter who chose the design of the cake and she made many parts from the decorations. It was a kind of serious playing ... I do not mind if it is not a perfect decoration, it is a common creation with my daughter and I am really proud of her.
  17. Take the cake out of the fridge and add the decorations. The way to stick them to the existing white sugar paste is to brush them on the back with a bit of water.
Now you just need to be ready for the kids to come to the party to eat your bunny cake!

In the end, a tip, as the cake was too big and I didn't want to force myself and my family to eat it all (keeping in mind that is also very sweet), the remaining part I just froze, cut in pieces.


Post a Comment