This Easter Cake is not so much a recipe as it is an Easter Cake decorating idea! Three layers of Vanilla Cake are frosted with a charming pastel blue buttercream, speckled with chocolate and finally decorated with toasted coconut to form the nest for mini Easter Eggs.
It’s pretty as a picture! And the speckling part is FUN to do!
I confess: I struggle for dessert ideas every year when Easter rolls around. I know, I know, many of you will point out there are all sorts of traditional Easter dessert wonders from around the world … but I am yet to make one that gets me excited. *She ducks as people from all over the world chuck rotten eggs at her*
I implore you to prove me wrong. Really. PLEASE leave me a list of wonderful traditional Easter desserts in the comments below so I can hit them up next Easter … or even well before then!
And so as another Easter rolls around, and I am presenting a dessert which is not so much a traditional Easter dessert (well, not at ALL), but rather an Easter Cake decorating idea to channel the Easter spirit!
On the plus side? This is more a guide than a strict recipe. You can use any cake you want. Any decorating eggs you want. Any colour of frosting you want. Oh the possibilities!
Ingredients for Easter Cake
Here are the 5 components for this Easter Cake:
Vanilla Cake – 3 layers;
Pastel Blue Vanilla Buttercream Frosting – fluffy as can be, in the most adorable duck egg blue;
Speckles on the frosting – made with just cocoa and water, but just wait until you see how we do this!
Toasted Coconut – for the “nest” and rim around the base of the cake; and
Mini Chocolate Eggs – for decorating.
1. The Cake
I’ve used my Vanilla Cake for this Easter Cake. I chose it for it’s ultra-moist and tender crumb, and beautiful vanilla flavour. The deal-sealer is that the cake stays 100% perfectly fresh for 4 whole days which makes it ideal for using as a make-ahead cake for holiday occasions such as Easter!
2. Pastel Blue Buttercream Frosting
Other than the addition of blue gel to colour the frosting, it’s just your usual Buttercream Frosting ingredients!
Gel vs Food Colouring
Gel works better to achieve the pictured pale blue colour because it’s stronger than food colouring. While that might sound counterintuitive for a pale pastel coloured frosting such as what is pictured, the challenge is dealing with the effect of the yellow colour of butter: because yellow + blue = green!
So if you use food colouring which is not as strong as gel, you will end up with more of a pastel green frosting colour which, mind you, is still lovely.
But if you want to achieve the pictured pale blue frosting colour, you will need to:
Use Navy Blue Gel colouring (this works best I have found – and I tried quite a few blue gels!);
Use a European butter (such as Lurpak in Australia) which is a much paler yellow colour than Australian butters; and
Beat, beat, beat the butter for 3 minutes which makes the butter transform from yellow to (almost!) white through aeration.
Colouring method I use for pastel frosting
You will see in the step photos above that I use what might be considered an unusual method for colouring the frosting! I’ve found this method to be the safest when making pastel coloured frostings because it is way too easy to add too much colouring and ending up with frosting that is too strongly coloured and not pastel. Especially so when using gel, and even using the toothpick smearing method.
What I do is remove 1 tablespoon of frosting into a small bowl, add gel colouring and mix up an intense coloured frosting. Then I add that back into the frosting 1 teaspoon at a time, until I achieve my desired colour.
This is a much safer method that lets you control the intensity of colour far better!
3. How to do Chocolate Speckles on Frosting
You’ll love this! It’s simply cocoa powder + boiling water which is gently flicked onto the frosting using a toothbrush!!
This also works using a pastry brush (the ones with bristles, not silicone) but I found that a toothbrush achieves the best light “spray” effect. It’s also the easiest to control to get the most even effect across the surface of the cake.
4. Toasted Coconut
I use coconut as the “nest” to pile the Easter Eggs into on the top of the cake, and to decorate the base of the cake!
Just a mere 7 to 10 minutes in the oven is needed to toast the flakes up until they’re nice and golden! The bake time will vary depending on how fine the flakes are, and also how much sugar is in the coconut. So just keep an eye on it.
TIP: Oven is much easier than stove, a) for a more even colour; and b) less stirring = less breakage.
5. The Easter Eggs
And lastly, the Easter Eggs! Pile them into that nest you just created, and nestle them along the base as well.
I used these sweetly pastel-coloured, sugar-coated chocolate eggs by a brand called Darrell Lea here in Australia which I found at supermarkets. But really, any mini eggs will do. Cheerful foil-wrapped ones would look terrific as well, I think!
As adorable and totally on-theme-with-Easter as this cake looks, I think the most important thing is that it is also a really, really good cake for eating. I find that all too often, the more grandly the cake is decorated, the drier and more disappointing it is inside (think of pretty much every wedding you ever attended)!!
Well, not this one. The Vanilla Cake recipe is one of my signature recipes. It’s probably the recipe I have worked hardest on in my entire life to make it as perfect as I could, with one of the key requirements being that it stays perfectly fresh for at least 4 days. This happens to make it an ideal base when using it to decorate for occasions like Easter, whether because you’re hosting and have a gazillion other things to make fresh, or you’re taking it to a gathering in the next days.
Besides, it’s just so darned delicious. I daresay anyone who thinks Vanilla Cake is bland hasn’t tried this one!! 😂 – Nagi x
PS. The copious amounts of fluffy buttercream frosting helps tantalise the tastebuds, as does piles of Easter Eggs. 😉
Watch how to make it
- 1 Vanilla Cake , 3 layers (or other 20cm/8" cake of choice, Note 1)
Pastel Blue Vanilla Buttercream (Note 2):
- 340g/ 3 sticks unsalted butter , 1.25cm / ½" cubes, softened to 18°C/64°F (Note 3)
- 750g/ 1.5 lb (6 cups) soft icing sugar / powdered sugar , sifted
- 3 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 – 2 drops blue gel food colouring (or 1 – 2 tsp blue food colouring, Note 4)
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder (unsweetened or sweetened, doesn’t matter)
- 3 tbsp boiling water
- Toothbrush (or basting brush)
- 2 cups coconut flakes (or shaved)
- 200g/ 7oz small Easter eggs (I use pastel coloured speckled ones, Note 5)
- Level: Trim the top of cakes if required/desired to make the layers level (for aesthetic purposes).
- Chill: Place cake layers in fridge until thoroughly chilled (this makes it easier to frost so crumbs don't go everywhere).
- Toast coconut: Preheat oven to 160°C/325°F (140°C fan). Spread coconut on a tray. Bake 6 – 10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes, until golden. (Bake time depends on sugar level, so keep an eye on it). Cool.
- Cream butter: Beat butter in a stand mixer on Speed 8 for 3 minutes until it changes from yellow to almost white.
- Add icing sugar in 3 batches: Add icing sugar in 3 batches, starting the mixer on speed 1 until partially incorporated, then increasing until it's mostly mixed in.
- Vanilla, salt, and beat 2 mins: Add vanilla and salt, then beat on Speed 8 for 2 minutes until almost white, and it's beautifully fluffy.
- Colour (Note 4): Remove 1 tbsp frosting into a small bowl. Add 1 drop of blue gel, mix in. Add 1 teaspoon of coloured frosting back into main frosting, beat until incorporated (scrape down sides as needed). Add more coloured frosting 1 teaspoon at a time until desired tone is achieved.
- Mix cocoa and boiling water.
- Frosting: Spread 3/4 cup frosting between each cake layer, then using remaining frosting for side and surface (I usually have ~1/2 cup frosting leftover, but better safe than sorry!).
- Speckles: Place something behind cake as a backboard for the speckling mess! Dip toothbrush in cocoa mixture, then use fingers to flick speckles onto cake surface – sides and top. (Hint: Practice in sink first). TIP: When doing top of cake, angle toothbrush 45 degrees down NOT over cake, to avoid accidental big drips.
- Coconut Nest: Pile coconut in the middle to form a "nest" then pile a mound of eggs in it.
- Coconut Rim: Place a mound of coconut all along the base of the cake, then dot with Easter Eggs.
- Bask in praise: Take proudly to table and bask in the compliments!
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Life of Dozer
Giving Dozer a helping hand so he could check out what was happening with the Easter Cake splatter station.