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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Tree Stump Bunny Cake


(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 isEaster. 


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