Rest assured: There will always be a bunny cake at Easter.

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As I’ve mentioned in writing before, my family isn’t one with tons of traditions. That might sound cynical but trust me: The traditions we do keep mean a lot to us, and we really stick to them. Many family traditions occur around the holidays, and even more are food-based. It’s certainly easier to stay committed to a tradition when it’s delicious. One yearly baking project my mom and I will never give up? Our Easter bunny cake.

She and her mom baked it when she was a little girl, and we’ve done the same my whole life. It’s not a stunning Easter cake that will wow guests with your baking and decorating skills, but it’s a recipe that makes memories. It’s a great baking project for the kids, but we’ve continued to make it each year since I’ve been an adult. And even though Easter looks a lot different this year, my mom and I will each be baking our own bunny cake.

My parents and I live in different cities, and because of the COVID-19 pandemic we, like everyone else, are unable to gather for Easter this year. As sad as that may be, there’s still a lot to celebrate this Easter—our safety, health, and the comfort of a bunny cake, among other things. Even though we won’t be baking our bunny cake in the same kitchen, my mom and I plan to FaceTime and still share the experience. A different way to tradition? Yes. A bad one? There isn’t such a thing.

I’ve included recipe clippings below, which you can tell have aged a bit. The important thing to know is that with this bunny cake, the actual recipe isn’t all that important. You’ll need two round cake pans to create the bunny by cutting one of the cakes as indicated, but feel free to use your favorite cake recipe for your own bunny. My mom and I have always made a white bunny cake, but since I’ll be spending Easter this year with no one but my chocoholic boyfriend, I’m going to try my hand at my very first chocolate bunny cake, which is another silver lining of this weird season we’re in. Although we’d rather be together, we’re not only continuing but evolving our traditions. The bunnies have looked different over the years (one year, we tried to do a side-facing bunny at my grandmother’s house—he was not very pretty), and they’ll continue to change with our family. Rest assured: There will always be a bunny cake at Easter. And that’s the whole point of family traditions—you can always count on them. Even if your teenagers whine about putting on that Christmas sweater, they’ll look back on them fondly and even come to depend on them. This year, I’m depending on a cake shaped like a bunny.

Whether your Easter tradition is a cake shaped like a bunny or butter shaped like a lamb (or something totally unrelated to food made in the likeness of cute animals), I’m urging you to keep it going. Now isn’t the time to give up on family traditions, even if you can’t physically be with your family. It’s okay to alter them a bit; the sentiment is still there. Because one day, when they’re 25 years old and celebrating Easter in a one-bedroom apartment with no one but their partner, it’s going to mean more to your kids than they realize.

Included with the comically old pictures of bunny cakes is my mom’s recipe for marshmallow icing, in her beautiful handwriting. It’s our favorite way to top the bunny cake, but feel free to use any frosting recipe. From there, go wild with the decorations, especially on the bunny’s bow tie. Jellybeans are a go-to, as well as Twizzler whiskers. You can use shredded coconut all over the bunny or simply dye a small amount pink to sprinkle on the ears (pink icing works as well). Your bunny does not have to be beautiful, and honestly, it probably won’t be a looker. All that matters is you have fun and make a sweet memory.

Bunny Cake
Bunny Cake and Marshmallow Icing Recipe

Southern Living’s bunny cake recipe sets up the bunny a little differently and admittedly, in a prettier way than ours. Get the recipe here.