Old-Timey Vanilla Bunny Cake

My mother made this bunny-shaped cake for us in the Sixties. I made it for my kids in the Nineties. Now, twenty-five years later, I am happily making it for my grandson. I love the architecture involved in creating the bunny shape out of two round cake pans as much as I love the simplicity in the flavor of a vanilla cake.

Cake Ingredients

2¼ cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1½ cups sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into half-inch slices, at room temperature
4 large eggs
½ cup milk (whole or 2%)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350º.
Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans.

Place the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl and mix on slow speed until well blended.

Add the slices of butter and blend on medium speed until the mixture resembles pea-sized crumbles.

In another bowl, mix together the eggs, milk, and vanilla with a fork until well blended.

Pour the wet ingredients into the butter and flour mixture and beat on slow speed for one minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Beat the batter on medium speed for one minute until smooth and fluffy.

Pour batter into prepared cake pans. Bake for about 25 minutes on the middle oven rack. When done, the cakes should be golden in color and a knife poked into the center should come out clean.

Remove cake pans from the oven. Let cool on a wire rack for ten minutes. To easily release the cakes from their pans, use a knife to loosen the edges and then flip the pans onto a rack. The cakes must be completely cooled before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients
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1  8-ounce bar cream cheese, softened
½ cup  (1 stick) butter, softened
1  teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3¾ cups (1 pound box) confectioners’ sugar
2-3 tablespoons whole milk

Instructions
Beat butter and cream cheese together in a large bowl on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy. Add powdered sugar and start beating on slow speed until the sugar is incorporated into the mixture to keep powdered sugar from spraying all over the room. Beat frosting until smooth and creamy.

frosting Red velvet cake

Add vanilla and beat for 15 seconds more. Add milk as needed to help fluff up the frosting.

frosting Red velvet cake
To Assemble Bunny Cake
Cut one of the cake layers as shown.
Arrange cakes as shown below. Place parchment paper strips under the cake’s edges. Ice the cake and then remove the strips. Decorate with M&M’s.
My husband got into decorating the cake. I had to pull him off the job when he talked about applying eyebrows.

Meanwhile, a few miles away at my Goddaughter Leigh’s house, my dear friend Becky was busy making an Easter Bunny Cake for her three-week-old granddaughter. She sent me a photo.

The Barton/Meadors family made this beautiful bunny.

My friend Janet Davies sent a photo of her coconut-covered bunny cake. Here is her method of icing the cake: Cut each cake layer in half horizontally. Poke holes in the layers with a toothpick. Pour a mixture of 12 ounces frozen coconut, 1 pound powdered sugar, and 1 cup sour cream over the layers and allow to soak in.  Add flakey coconut to the top. The sour cream gives it a tangy touch.  Sometimes she takes off the crusty of the cake to make sure the runny icing gets inside the cake.

Here’s another cute one sent to me by mom’s cousin, Jean Maroney. Her daughter-in-law, Alena, made it.

My niece made this one.

Please share your creation on Instagram with the hashtag #judyschickensbunnycake

If you are celebrating Easter, Happy Easter!

Related Posts for Easter Day

Fun to do with Children:
To Dye For: Making Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs
How to Tell If an Egg Is Fresh or Hard-Boiled
Test Your Sense of Smell with Jellybeans

Brunch:
50 Ways to Make a Frittata
Quiche Lorraine with Bacon and Kale
Mom’s Monkey Bread, circa 1970
The Biscuit King

Desserts:
Italian Ricotta and Lemon Cookies
Italian Sesame Seed Cookies

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© 2014-2019 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.

Mom’s Monkey Bread, circa 1970

I wasn’t planning on writing another blog post before Christmas, but I have a hard time saying No to a recipe request from one of my brothers, especially when they bring up food memories that involve our mother. My brother Sam wrote, “Judy, Mom always made sticky buns in a cake pan that had the centerpiece cut out. They were very popular. Do you remember how to make them?”

He was talking about Monkey Bread. I really had to think hard to remember how Mom made it back in the Seventies. Remembering brought me to a happy place in our childhood kitchen with the big bay window over the sink that overlooked the entrance to Bay View. I was happy for the challenge.

Sam, here is my first attempt in forty years at making Monkey Bread. The big white blob is cream cheese frosting. Although I knew what kind of pan you were referring to when you wrote “a cake pan that had the centerpiece cut out,” I didn’t have an angel food cake pan, so I used a Les Creuset Dutch oven. It did the job. Do not use a tube pan with a removable bottom as the butter will leak out and make a mess.
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When I went to the grocery store to find loaves of frozen bread dough, it was nice to see they still stocked the five-pound packages I used as a kid. You will need two loaves for this recipe. Be sure to defrost them about thirty minutes before you plan to bake. There is no need to let them rise first.
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Ingredients:
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2 loaves (2 pounds) frozen bread dough, thawed
1 stick (½ cup) butter
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
½ cup chopped walnuts or raisins (optional)

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350º
Grease a deep 9 or 10-inch cooking container.

Mix together sugars and cinnamon.
Melt butter in a pan until just melted. Stir in vanilla. Remove from heat.
Cut loaves into pieces, as shown in the photo below.
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Drop individual pieces of dough into the butter and stir until each piece is evenly coated
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Take each piece out and roll it in the cinnamon sugar—place in a greased baking pan. Let rest for about 15 minutes. It does need to rise in the pan before cooking.
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Bake for about 45 minutes. The dough will rise as it cooks. The top layer will turn golden brown and be firm to touch when it is ready. If you don’t cook the bread the full amount of time, the lower dough balls will be doughy even though the bread looks done on top.
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Let cool for five minutes and then flip onto a serving plate.
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Frosting:

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½ package cream cheese, softened (½ pound)
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon milk
1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
¼ teaspoon vanilla
dash of salt

Mix ingredients together until well-blended. Thin with more milk if desired.
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Serve bread with cream cheese frosting on the side or drizzled on top, as shown in this gorgeous photo sent to me Christmas morning by my Aunt Rachelle.

Merry Christmas to Rachelle and my brothers!

Appetizers:
Cranberry and Hot Pepper Jelly Brie Bites
“Croatian Cheese” a Flavorful Appetizer Made with Feta and Goat Cheese
Roasted Tamari Almonds

Brunch:
50 Ways to Make a Frittata
The Biscuit King
Sorghum, Oats, and Cranberry Granola
The Navel Mary Way: How to Peel an Orange
Fruit and Nut Bread

Desserts:
Mrs. Walker’s Cranberry Nut Pie
Italian Ricotta and Lemon Cookies
A Cake for All Seasons
Lily’s Red Velvet Cake

LET’S STAY CONNECTED!

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Remember to always check this website for updated versions of a recipe.  

© 2014-2020 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.

Ellen’s Most Moist Zucchini Bread

I love this recipe for zucchini bread. When my children were young, we lived in one of those neighborhoods where there were lots of children, fenceless backyards, car pools, and lots of sharing of recipes. This was one of those recipes. Lucy, our perky neighborhood teen babysitter, used to ride her bike down Sneed Road to our house; believe me, my children were as happy to see her as I was. One day, she brought a loaf of her mother, Ellen’s, zucchini bread. It was unusually moist and dotted with colorful green flecks from the zucchini peel.

The flecks give the bread texture and color that make it visually appealing.
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The only change I made to Ellen’s recipe was to add more zucchini, nuts, and chocolate chips. One of my sons will not eat zucchini but loved this bread.
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What to do with a baseball bat-sized zucchini?

Like for many of us, I often make zucchini bread when I find one of those baseball bat-sized zucchinis in the garden. If you do that, too, be sure to remove the large seeds before grating the flesh by quartering the zucchini into long strips and cutting out the triangular-shaped seed section. For large amounts of grating, I use the shredder blade in the food processor. Put the grated zucchini in a colander until ready to use. They will start to sweat, and you want that liquid to drain away.

Have no idea how I missed this!  7 pounds 6 ounces
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Yield: 2 loaves or 1 loaf and 2 mini-loaves

Ingredients:

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3 eggs
1 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups granulated sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 pound unpeeled zucchini (a tad over 3 cups when grated)
1 cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped
(Optional: add ½ cup chocolate chips)

Mise en Place:

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Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325º if glass pans, 350º for metal pans. Grease loaf pans.

Coarsely grate the unpeeled zucchini and set aside. If liquid forms at the bottom of the container while it rests, discard it.
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Beat eggs in a mixing bowl for 30 seconds on medium speed.

Add the oil, sugar, and vanilla and mix for two more minutes on medium-low speed. Beating these ingredients together at this point in the recipe is one of the things that gives fruit bread “lift” by incorporating air into the batter.
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Add the dry ingredients: the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Remember, when measuring flour, spoon it into a measuring cup and level with a knife as opposed to packing the flour into the measuring cup by dipping it into a package of flour. You can read more about measuring ingredients in my home ec post.

Mix on slow speed for 30 seconds. Mix gently, you don’t want to stimulate the gluten in the flour to become tough and elasticky.
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Add the nuts and zucchini and mix on slow speed until just mixed, about 30 seconds max.
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If you plan to add chocolate chips, stir them in now.

Pour batter into prepared pans.
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Cook for about an hour, or until a knife inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in pan for about 15 minutes and then remove from pan and allow to continue cooling on a wire rack. I usually need to use a knife to loosen the bread from the edges of the pan before turning it over to release it.
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My friend, Patty, describes how she made the recipe gluten free in the Comments section. Patty also substituted 3/4 cup of honey for each cup of sugar. This makes for a darker bread that is delicious, but needs to be called Honey Zucchini Bread because the final flavor left in your mouth is honey instead of zucchini.

I never thought of adding chocolate chips to this recipe until I started making my cousin’s recipe for pumpkin bread: Marion’s Crazy Good Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate ChipsI thought her recipe was great with chocolate chips, and since zucchini and pumpkin are in the same family, I thought, “Why not?” It was delicious! Surprisingly, not too sweet.
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Related Posts
Marion’s Crazy Good Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips
Fruit and Nut Bread
Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce and Whipped Cream
The Biscuit King

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Follow my photos of vegetables growing, backyard chickens hanging out, and dinner preparations on Instagram at JudysChickens.

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© 2014-2017 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

Marion’s Crazy Good Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips

Let’s just say you need something to serve for a morning meeting or an afternoon snack. Or, maybe you need to come up with a contribution to a bake sale or a neighborhood party. Or, maybe you are looking for a healthy-ish dessert. This is your recipe!

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There is something about the way the earthy pumpkin purée in this bread absorbs the heat of the spices and the sweet taste of the chocolate and turns it into a decadent memory of all that is autumn. Bonus points to this bread for being dairy and nut free.

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My cousin Marion first emailed me this recipe back in 2008 when I was looking for something to make for a school bake sale. It took me a year to make it because I couldn’t see pumpkin and chocolate tasting good together. When I finally tried it, I was blown away by the flavor. The spices subdued the sweet chocolate, and both did something crazy good to the pumpkin. The combination was brilliant. I started making her pumpkin bread every year for the school bake sale. It was so popular; it was placed on the school’s website where it remains all these years later. This recipe is so well-loved my cousin has to print copies for her customers to take home with them whenever she serves it at her Details and Goods trunk shows.

Yield: Makes 2 loaves, 1 bundt cake, or 18-24 muffins depending on size

Ingredients:
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Mise en Place:
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1½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup canola oil
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
4 large eggs
1  15-ounce can pumpkin purée
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350º

  1. Grease baking pans and lightly dust with flour. This recipe will fill one bundt pan, two loaf pans, 18 muffin tins, or six mini-loaf pans.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the sugar, oil, applesauce, and eggs on medium speed for two minutes.
  3. Add pumpkin purée and spices. Mix on medium speed for 30 seconds more. Use a spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as you mix.

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4. Add flours, salt, and baking soda. Mix for 30 seconds on low speed just until dry ingredients are fully incorporated into the batter.
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Stir in chocolate chips.
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Pour batter into prepared pans.
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Bake on the middle rack of oven for 50-60 minutes. To test for doneness insert a knife into the center of the baking pan. If it comes out with orange residue on it, put back in the oven for another 10 minutes. If it comes out with just melted chocolate on the knife, then it is ready.

Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Next, run a knife around the edges of the pans to loosen the loaves. Turn the pans over onto the wire rack and shake the loaves out. Immediately flip them over, so they are right side up. Allow to cool for an hour before packaging.

A few baking notes:

If you don’t have applesauce, use 1 full cup of oil instead of half oil and half applesauce.

If you don’t have whole wheat flour, use 2 cups of all-purpose flour.

In case you’re wondering, a 15-ounce can is equal to 1¾ cups of pumpkin purée.
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Marion, thanks for turning me on to this unlikely pairing of flavors! Marion thanks her friend, Marilyn who first introduced her to this recipe in the form of muffins as a crowd-pleasing snack after a high school lacrosse game.

Holding hands with my favorite cousin and first friend, Marion.

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Other Nice Fall Desserts
Mom’s Apple Pie with a Cheddar Streusel Topping
Mom’s Pumpkin Pie
Mrs. Walker’s Cranberry Nut Pie
Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce and Whipped Cream
Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie

Always check the website for the most current version of a recipe.

© 2014-2017 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.