How to Make a Bunny Plant Pot Cake
This showstopping bake is the perfect centrepiece for your Easter table this year – complete with a cheeky rabbit climbing up to smell the newly sprung flowers. Baking expert Lucy Bruns explains the different techniques used to create the modelled flowers and textured, airbrushed plant pots – follow along and be inspired to make something truly spectacular!
7 medium eggs
14oz/400g soft butter or margarine
14oz/400g caster sugar
10oz/285g self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
250g Renshaw Ready to Roll Icing » in lilac, pastel yellow, and duck egg blue
Renshaw Flower & Modelling Paste » in various colours
Small round cake cards (4”)
Blossom flower cutters
All flowers can be made well in advance, or at least 2 or 3 days beforehand.
Hydrangea – use flower/modelling paste in your choice of colour. Roll it very thin approximately 1mm and use the metal cutter to cut out the flower shapes. Dust the silicone mould with a little cornflour and press the flowers firmly to form a 3D flower. Leave the flowers to harden on a flat piece of dense sponge or polystyrene.
Daisy – roll out white flower paste 2mm thin and cut out daisy shapes with the daisy plunger cutter. To make the centres, roll out yellow flower paste 2mm thin and use a blade tool or blunt knife to score lines one way and then across to make a cross hatch pattern. Use a small round plunger cutter to cut out the centres and fix in place with a little water. You could also double up the white daisy shapes. Leave the flowers to dry in cup formers or an empty cardboard egg tray.
Leaves – roll out green flower paste approximately 1-2mm thin. Use the leaf plunger cutter in large and medium sizes to cut out various leaves. Use your fingers to give each leaf a bit of shape by lifting up one edge, curling one end under or draping over the edge of a piece of firm sponge. Leave to dry out.
Filler flowers – these are non-specific flowers that are great for filling out large areas and adding volume to your arrangement. Roll out your choice of flower paste 1mm thin. Stamp out flower shapes and on a foam pad, use the pointed cone tool to thin and ruffle each petal. Then pick up the flower and pinch it in the middle with your thumb and forefinger to gather it at the base. Leave to dry.
Orange blossom – use orange roll out icing with a little Gum-Tex added to give it strength and elasticity (you can add this to any colour of icing if you don’t have flower paste in the desired colour). Cut out 3 sizes of blossom using cutters and on a foam mat, use the ball tool to thin and slightly ruffle each petal. Leave the flowers to dry out and harden. When you want to use the flowers, layer them up in size order sticking each one on top of the other with a little water. Colour some royal icing with black food colour and fit a piping bag with a fine writing nozzle no.1. Pipe tiny black dots in the centre of each flower.
Bunny and Woodgrain cake board:
These can also be made well in advance and at least 2 days beforehand.
Bunny – use pale grey flower/modelling paste and roll out 1cm thick. Use a sharp craft knife to cut out the shape of the bunny’s body – cut the ears out separately from the offcuts. Neaten the cut edges and soften and round them with your finger tips so the bunny has a bit more shape and looks less flat. Lay the bunny down flat on a piece of foam or dense sponge with the arms bent over the edge of the surface. This will be where the bunny is seen to be clambering up into the top of the plant pot. Use the dresden tool to score grooves in the leg joints and armpits to give the bunny more dimension. Make a fluffy tail from a small ball of white icing, squashing it slightly so that the underside is flat. Use a cocktail stick to add texture to the tail.
Woodgrain cake board – cover your cake board with 200g white roll out icing and 50g of grey icing mixed with 2tsp Gum-Tex. Mix the 2 colours together but stop before they are completely mixed so that it has a marbled appearance. Roll the icing in a circle larger than the size of the board and lay it over the board which has a light wash of water on it to fix in place. Trim away the excess icing around the edge with a sharp knife. Use the pointed end of a dresden tool/leaf veiner to score deep lines across the board for the planks of wood and lighter lines in between for the woodgrain. Leave the board to dry overnight.
Plant pot cakes method:
Preheat your oven to 170°C fan/340°F/Gas mark 3.
Line the bottom of each flower pot with a piece of baking paper to block the hole. Line the sides of the pot with baking paper – trim away any excess paper but leave 1” remaining above the rim of the pot.
Top tip! Use a paperclip to hold the baking paper in position.
Make the cake mix by beating together the butter/margarine with the sugar until light and fluffy (I used a stand mixer but you could also use an electric whisk). Beat in the eggs one by one and then sift in the flour, cocoa and baking powder altogether. Mix together until everything is just incorporated.
Top tip! Don’t over mix as you don’t want to develop the gluten which will result in a heavy, dense cake.
Fill each plant pot with cake mix until it’s 2cm below the rim of the pot. Bake in the oven, turning each pot 180° after 30 minutes. The smallest cake will be ready after approximately 45-50 minutes and the 2 larger cakes between 50-60 minutes but always test each cake with a skewer inserted in the centre and if it comes out clean with no trace of cake mix on it then it’s done!
When the cakes are baked leave them on a rack for 5 minutes and turn the cakes out and remove the baking paper. Leave them to go completely cold before moving onto the next step.
You will need to level each cake – use a serrated knife to remove any domes on the top of the cake to make a nice flat surface.
Top tip! If the cakes have risen higher than the height of the pot then pop the cake back in the pot and use the top edge of the pot to rest the knife on a cut it level.
Turn each cake upside down on a silver cake card with a circle of baking paper to stop it sticking and use the knife to make a slight but visible cut vertically from the top to the bottom. Then slice the cake horizontally into 3. Add whatever filling you like – jam, chocolate fudge icing, etc and then stack the 3 layers back together using the vertical cut to match up the layers back in the same place.
Cover the outside of the cake with chocolate fudge icing. Put the cake on a turntable and use a cake scraper to get a smooth finish. Leave the icing to set for at least 3 hours or overnight.
It’s then time to cover your plant pot cakes with roll out icing. Measure each cake up one side, across the top, and down the other side. This will give you the diameter of the circle of icing you will need to roll out. For the largest size of cake (approximately 36cm diameter) you will need 750g of your chosen colour of icing.
Top tip! I used 2/3 lilac mixed with 1/3 white to get a pale shade. Knead the icing slightly until warm and pliable and roll out on a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar. Roll out a circle approximately 3-4mm thick. Drape the icing over the cake and smooth it all over firstly with your palms and then with an icing smoother. Trim away any excess icing around the base of the cake – you will need to keep this to make the rim of the flower pot.
Fip the cake the right way up temporarily and use something small, round and 5-7mm thick (I used the red lid off the pot of Betty Crocker icing) to raise the cake up slightly from the cake card before turning it upside down once more. Roll the remaining icing into a long thin strip, long enough to go around the base of the cake. Use a ruler and a sharp knife or pizza wheel to cut a thin straight strip for the rim of the pot.
Top tip! Use the rim of the actual terracotta pot as a guide to how wide to make the strip. Stick this in place with a little cooled, boiled water. Repeat for all cakes.
Use a piece of scrunched up tin foil to give a textured and aged appearance to the pots. You can further enhance the weathered look by lightly airbrushing the cakes with brown or black food colour. At this point, you can also enhance the woodgrain effect on your cake board too.
Top tip! If you don’t have an airbrush then you could try dusting cocoa powder over the pots with a large, soft brush. Leave all of the cakes overnight for the icing to set.
To stack the cakes on the cake board, firstly fix the largest cake in the centre of the cake board with a blob of stiff royal icing. Cover the top of the cake with a layer of chocolate buttercream icing. Insert 3 cake dowels in a triangle in the centre of the cake. Mark where the level of the buttercream is on the dowels and remove them and cut them down to size. Reinsert the dowels, cover them over with a little more chocolate fudge icing and put a small 4” cake card over the dowels. Ensure this is stuck in place with the chocolate icing.
Attach the medium cake on top of the large one with a blob of royal icing on the cake card. Repeat the process with 3 more dowels inserted in the medium cake and a small cake card on top. Attach the small cake on top.
The bunny made earlier can be fixed in place with royal icing so that it is climbing into the bottom pot. You may need to support the bunny in position until the royal icing has dried. Fix the ears and tail in position on the bunny. Fill the pots with sugar flowers fixed in place with more royal icing.