From the Kitchen – Some Bunny’s Favourite

by Joan Saunders | photos by Scottee Giles – 

I once found my son, aided and abetted by his cousin and aunt, eating a large chunk of cake for breakfast. The rationale? Well, it had fruit on top, had eggs in the batter as well as flour, milk and whipping cream. Basically it was exactly the same as having blueberry pancakes. Or so they said.

If you’re working within those parameters, then I can make the case that this cake is a complete meal. It has protein, carbs, fruit, vegetables and milk products – all you could possibly need or want. Plus, it’s gorgeous, especially if you take the time to make some sweet marshmallow flowers. And if you’re not sure about cake as a meal, this is the perfect ending to a special dinner as we celebrate spring.

I decided to try the marshmallow flowers after I saw them online. They’re so easy, and you can play around with the colours of the petals and their placement on the cake. It’s also the kind of baking project that kids can definitely assist with as, once you’ve cut the marshmallows, little ones can decorate the petals with the coloured sugar and arrange them as they please on the cake. Such fun.

It’s also thematically correct for April, as the Easter Bunny is sure to want a slice of this moist, delectable cake. Not only is it packed with carrots, but it also features nuts, pineapple and coconut. I know that there’s a lot of carrot cake recipes out there, and you might have your favourite, which is all well and good. In my books, carrot cake is always a fabulous choice. But if you don’t have a go-to recipe, take some time to create this memorable, festive dessert, as you’re sure to make some bunnies in your household very happy indeed.

But don’t blame me if you find anyone surreptitiously tucking into this cake for breakfast. At that point, they’ll easily justify their guilty pleasure and yes, I’ve heard it all before.

Easter Bunny Carrot Cake
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped nuts
(walnuts, pecans, or mix)
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
¾ cup crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup white sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
1 cup canola or grapeseed oil
4 eggs

12 oz cream cheese, room temperature
¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ½ to 5 cups icing sugar (to desired consistency)
1 tbsp lemon juice
zest of one lemon

Cake: Preheat oven to 325°. Butter and flour three 9-inch cake pans.

Whisk together: flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, salt. In another bowl, stir together carrots, nuts, coconut, pineapple.

Using mixer with paddle attachment, or in bowl with whisk, beat sugars and oil together until smooth. Add eggs, one by one; beat until smooth. Keep speed of mixer low; add flour mixture. Mix only until dry ingredients disappear, then gently stir in carrot mixture.

Divide batter evenly into three pans. Bake 40 minutes, rotating pans halfway. Check cakes with cake tester/skewer. When it comes out clean, they’re done. Cool on racks. Carefully remove from pans when cool.

Icing: Using mixer with paddle attachment or handheld mixer, beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add icing sugar gradually. Beat until smooth. Beat in zest and lemon juice.

To ice: After cakes are completely cool, place one cake layer on plate, top with about 1 cup icing. Smooth icing all the way to the edges of cake. Add second cake layer with top side down, repeat; add the top layer, this time right side up. Use rest of icing to ice the top and sides. Swirl icing as you’d like. Store at room temperature.

Marshmallow flowers:
large or small marshmallows
kitchen scissors
coloured sugar sprinkles
candy or nut for flower centre

Put coloured sugar sprinkles in small bowls, one colour in each. Use kitchen scissors to cut large marshmallows in half. Then, for each half, cut on diagonal. Use your fingers to shape the ovals, rounding out the middle and pinching ends closer together to make them look like flower petals. Dip front of petals in coloured sugar sprinkles. The stickiness of the marshmallow will make sugar stick to petals. Arrange petals in circle on cake to create flowers. Finish by putting nut or coloured candy in centre.

Use mini marshmallows: cut them in half widthwise, roll in coloured sugar. Arrange in a circle. Add small candy for centre.

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