twd: baking with julia: lemon bunny cake

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there are two food traditions in my life: grandma's stuffing at thanksgiving and a bunny cake at easter.

i'll be honest, my earliest memories of this cake are more related to stealing jelly beans from the bunny decorations than the actual cake.

and then lying my pants off about it. i'm pretty sure my mom didn't buy it.

but i'm also pretty sure she's forgiven her sweet-toothed baby girl, because she still sends me an easter basket every year full of goodies . . . and always a dark chocolate bunny.

you're never too old for a dark chocolate bunny.

also?

you're never too old to fall for the homespun charm of the bunny cake. coated in coconut "fur", nestled on a bed of that insanely irritating easter basket grass, sprinkled with easter egg jelly beans.

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the relatively tart flavor of the lemon pound cake and cream cheese frosting helped cut the sweetened coconut a little, but let's be real. this is a seriously sugary proposition.

in previous years, i've gone with a carrot cake for the bunny. it felt so meta . . . bunnies eat carrots, but we're eating the bunny, the bunny made out of carrots . . . why is this so entertaining to me? 

one year, i tried to go a little more healthy by buying an actual coconut, smashing it open with a hammer, and then decorating the bunny with toasted brown freshly peeled coconut curls. it was amazing and wrong all at the same time.

and this is the other thing about my easter bunny cake tradition . . . it's supremely adaptable. easter, for the non-christian christians, is a holiday without a lot of baggage or rules. it isn't the holiday you'll fly across the country to visit the family for. it's the holiday you celebrate with the family you've created wherever you are – or the family you borrow for a weekend or egg-toss-filled brunch.

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Lemon Easter Bunny Cake

You can find the recipe for the lemon loaf cake at Tuesdays with Dorie. I took the whole loaf recipe, but baked it in a 9 inch round cake pan instead. I also baked this Thursday night for serving on Sunday, and has happy to find the cake stayed moist and yummy wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge.

To assemble, take a 9 inch round cake. slice in half so you have two half circles. Stand one up, and coat the flat side with thick frosting. (I used Joy's recipe.) Stand up the other half circle and press the flat side into the frosting so you essentially have half a layer cake standing upright on your cake stand or platter. If you have time, give the outside a thin frosting crumb coat and then refrigerate for 20 minutes or so to let the frosting set before adding your final coat. This helps make the bunny truly white white, but since you're adding coconut, it isn't completely necessary. Then lightly press coconut all over the bunny to create the fur. I like to add a ball of coconut as a tail.  Eyes and nose are jelly beans, and I cut ears and whiskers out of paper. You'll need to cut little slits in the cake to insert the paper.

strawberry coconut scones

summer means strawberries, right?  check out these bad boys.

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i do have a confession.  i bought these strawberries at the tarjay.  and we are just on the wrong side of strawberry season.  they looked so red and yummy.  but check out the inside:

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yeah.  sadness.   but nothing that can't be solved by sugar and butter.  into scones they go!

scones are one of those baked goods that people have very particular feelings about.  and by that, i mean extreme animosity towards scones sold by certain omnipresent coffee shops with green signage.  i have no such prejudices against dessert masquerading as a breakfast item.  

these scones, however, may also cause some heart burn.  they aren't super flakey or biscuity.  although they have just the right hint of sweetness for proper breakfast food.  and they are profoundly cakey and soft in texture.  this, i think, is because they don't have buttermilk?  i really like me a tangy buttermilk scone.  i know you can make buttermilk out of regular milk.  but i didn't.  i just made these:

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what?  i forgot to mention my last minute brilliant idea to add coconut?  toasted coconut.  makes everything better.  let's get started.  lazy scones for subpar strawberries.  aren't you glad you kept scrolling?

chop your strawberries.  weigh your dry ingredients.

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add cold, cold butter (another victory . . . someday i'll remember to presoften butter, someday).  get your hands in there until it looks like this.

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then eggs, then milk (whole if you've got it!) and STRAWBERRIES.  don't they look so much better all chopped up?

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no, you can still tell.  sigh.

ah, but this is much better.

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and better.  milk wash action shot!

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coconut.  pre-toasted.

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yum.

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what are you talking about a missing scone?  there's no missing scone. just go make these already.

Strawberry Coconut Scones

Largely based on this recipe from Gourmet

  • 2 1/2 cup or 10 5/8 oz all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup or 1 3/4 oz white sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, chopped in largish chunks
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, plus a little extra for the wash
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut, give or take

Preheat your oven to 425°F.  If you don't have lovely silpat, grease up your baking sheet.

Whisk together your dry ingredients – flour through salt.  Add the butter and mix in with your fingers until it looks like coarse meal.  Stir in eggs and 1/4 cup milk until just combined, then carefully fold in strawberries. 

Flour your work surface.  If you want big scones, dump out all your dough.  If you're taking it to work, like I did, start with half the dough.  Knead lightly and shape into a round.  Use your rolling pin if you like thinner scone.  Cut into slices, like pie.  Or pizza!

Transfer your scones to the baking sheet.  Brush with milk.  Sprinkle with coconut!  Or turbinado sugar!  Whatever your heart desires.

Bake about 10-12 minutes for smaller scones, or closer to 15 for larger.  Eat warm with salted butter straight off the baking sheet.  Best the same day.