This Easter Cake is not so much a recipe as it is an Easter Cake decorating idea! 3 layers of Vanilla Cake are frosted with a darling pastel blue buttercream, speckled with chocolate then decorated with toasted coconut as the nest for mini Easter Eggs.
Pretty as a picture! And the speckling part is FUN!
I confess – I struggle for desserts every year when Easter rolls around. I know, I know, many of you will point out there are all sorts of 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*
Prove me wrong. 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, I resort to a dessert which is not so much a traditional Easter dessert (well not at ALL), but rather an Easter Cake decorating idea!
On the plus side? This is more a guide than a strict recipe. You can use any cake you want. Any eggs you want. Any colour 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 pale blue colour;
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 Eggs – for decorating.
1. The Cake
I’ve used my Vanilla Cake for this Easter Cake. Ultra moist and tender, with a beautiful vanilla flavour, the clincher here 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.
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 dark. Especially 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 into the frosting 1 teaspoon at a time, until I achieve my desired colour.
This is a much safer method that let’s you control the intensity of colour far easier!
3. How to do Chocolate Speckles on Frosting
You’ll love this! It’s simply cocoa powder + boiling water which is gently splattered onto the frosting using a toothbrush!!
It also works using a pastry brush (the ones with bristles, not silicone) but I found that a toothbrush achieves the best light “spray” effect. Also the easiest to control to get the most even effect across the surface of the cake.
4. Toasted Coconut
Used as the “nest” to pile the Easter Eggs in on the top of the cake, and to decorate the base of the cake!
Just a mere 7 to 10 minutes in the oven 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 more even colour; and b) stirring = 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 sweet pastel coloured eggs by a brand called Darrel 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 Easter-on-theme as this cake looks, I think the most important thing is that it is also a really, really good cake. I find that all too often, the grander the cake is decorated, the drier and more disappointing it is inside!!
Well, not this one. The Vanilla Cake recipe is one of my signature recipes, probably the recipe I have worked hardest on in my entire adult life to make it as perfect as I could, with one of the key things being that it stays perfectly fresh for 4 days. Which makes it an ideal base when using it to decorate for occasions like Easter, whether it be because you’re hosting and have a gazillion other things to make fresh, or whether you’re taking it to a gathering.
And it’s just so delicious. Anybody who thinks Vanilla Cake is bland hasn’t tried this one!! – Nagi x
PS The copious amounts of fluffy buttercream frosting helps, 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 / 1/2″ 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 visual purposes).
Chill: Place cake layers in fridge until thoroughly chilled (makes it easier to frost so crumbs don’t go everywhere).
Toast Coconut: Preheat oven to 160°C/325°F (140°C). 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.
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, beat 2 min: 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 into frosting, beat until incorporated (scrape down sides as needed). Add more colouring 1 teaspoon at a time until desired colour 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 backboard for speckling mess! Dip toothbrush in cocoa mixture, then use fingers to flick speckles onto cake surface – sides and top. (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!
2. Frosting amount – This is the frosting required for a 3 layer cake, yes I know it sounds like a lot but it’s better to be safe than sorry. And we’re not going for a naked cake look here! You will probably have a bit leftover – freeze it (3 mths).
2 layer cake – Use the recipe scaler to reduce icing sugar/powdered sugar to 500g/1lb (click on Servings and slide down).
3. Butter softening – We don’t want the butter to soften too much because we want to beat it for quite a while to make it as white as possible. This is because butter is yellow, and yellow + blue colouring = green instead of blue which is what we’re targeting here. The longer you beat butter, the whiter it becomes. If butter is too soft starting out, frosting will get too sloppy. At any point during making process, refrigerate butter if needed.
4. Blue colouring – When aiming for pastel coloured frosting, adding colouring directly into frosting is risky I find – too easy to add too much. Also, the amount of food colouring required to achieve your desired pastel blue colour will depend on the strength and exact colour you use. I used Navy Blue Gel Colouring.
The method used in this recipe makes it easier to control. ie take out a bit of frosting, add colouring, then add that back in progressively until desired colour strength is achieved.
Green tinge: butter is yellow, and blue + yellow = green. So the blueness (or rather, green-ness!) of the frosting will depend on how white you make make the butter/frosting. European butters (like Lurpak in Australia) are more white than economical brands which are much more yellow. Also, beating the butter for 3 minutes will make it more white.
But honestly? Pale green is just as lovely as pale blue, in my opinion!
5. Eggs – I used small pastel coloured speckled eggs from Darrel Lea (Australia). Any eggs will work here!
Life of Dozer
Giving Dozer a helping hand so he could check out what was happening with the Easter Cake splatter station.