It’s not too late to make this cute Easter bunny-shaped gluten free coconut cake to share with your family this Sunday. It’s easy and delicious and is a perfect project to do with your kids!
My birthday is at the end of March, which is always close to Easter, sometimes even ON Easter. When I was growing up, my mom used to make all our birthday cakes. She had so special pans to create unique shapes. She would just bake cakes into rounds or rectangles and then cut them up to look like whatever she was making.
For me, it was always either a bunny cake or an Easter basket, butterfly, or something to represent spring. And because I loved coconut, it was covered in coconut! The cakes were always SO good!!
Since I’ve been on a cake baking roll lately, I thought I’d go down memory lane and bake an interpretation of my mom’s birthday cake, complete with flour frosting. What? Flour frosting?? What in the WORLD is flour frosting, you ask? We’ll get into all the details of that in a minute. But first, let’s talk cake!
Gluten Free Coconut Cake
I vividly remember my birthday cakes growing up because they were so pretty and SO yummy!!! I always thought my mom made the cakes from scratch, but she recently told me she used a box mix. That’s one thing about box mixes–they’re always so light and fluffy, which can be hard to duplicate with a homemade cake.
And then there are gluten free boxed mixes. Whole different ballgame, at least in my opinion. The chocolate ones aren’t bad, but I have yet to find a good-enough-to-eat vanilla (or yellow) gf boxed cake mix. They always taste of chemicals to me. So we’ll just have to make our own. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Kim’s gluten free flour blend–or your favorite blend containing xanthan gum
- Granulated sugar
- Oil–canola, vegetable or any neutral oil
- Baking powder
- Sour cream
- Vanilla extract
This cake is so simple to blend together. It can be done in a stand mixer, with a handheld mixer, or in a large bowl with a spoon. Beat the sugar, eggs, and oil until well blended. Add the sour cream and vanilla extract and mix to combine.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Alternate adding the flour mixture with the milk in two additions, mixing only until combined. Don’t overmix.
Fill a well-greased 9-inch round and 8-inch round cake pan 3/4 of the way with cake batter and bake at 350 degrees F for about 40-45 minutes, or until cakes spring back when lightly touched, or when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cutting the Cakes to Make a Bunny
It’s super easy to cut up these cakes to make the cutest little bunny rabbit ever! Leave the 9-inch cake whole and intact, but with the 8-inch round, cut two curves on each side, almost as if you’re cutting down lines in a tennis ball. These will be your ears. The middle piece will be the bowtie.
Making the Flour Frosting
Now let’s talk about this flour frosting. I guess back in my grandma’s baking days (where this frosting recipe originated), powdered sugar wasn’t widely available. And maybe eggs weren’t thought of to use for frosting, at least in America.
Enter flour frosting. It goes by a few other names, as I found in my research–Ermine, roux, and boiled milk frostings. They’re all the same thing–milk and flour (in our case, xanthan gum-free flour blend) are boiled until a paste forms, allowed to cool, and then butter and granulated sugar are added. Beaten together, the mixture transforms into a light and airy whipped frosting that’s smooth and not too sweet.
A coconut simple syrup brushed on the cake layers before frosting the cake drives the coconut flavor home. Then when sweetened shredded coconut is sprinkled on top of the whipped flour frosting, an ordinary yellow cake becomes a delightfully delicious coconut cake!
When you’ve frosted the cake and are ready to add the coconut, put parchment paper on those spots you want to cover with either tinted coconut or sprinkles. Then you can remove the parchment and add your colored coconut or sprinkles!
How to Color Coconut
Place the desired amount of coconut in a small baggie and add a few drops of liquid or gel food coloring. Close the bag and squish the coconut around in the bag until all the coconut is a uniform color.
Even with everything going on in the world these days, make this cute Easter bunny gluten free coconut cake to brighten your days and give you and your kids a new project to work on. Plus, the end result is not just adorable, but delicious too!
Gluten Free Easter Bunny Coconut Cake
- 2⅓ cups (466 g) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (240 ml) canola or vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- ¾ cup (170 g) sour cream
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- 2¼ cups plus 2 tbsp (333 g) Kim's gluten free flour blend or your favorite blend with xanthan gum
- 2½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk, at room temperature
- ½ cup plus 2 tbsp (88 g) Kim's xanthan gum free flour blend
- 2 cups (480 ml) whole milk
- 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
- 1 lb (4 sticks or 452 g) butter, at room temperature
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
COCONUT SIMPLE SYRUP
- 1½ cups (360 ml) water
- 1 tbsp sugar
- ¾ cup (45 g) sweetened shredded coconut
- 2 cups (120 g) sweetened shredded coconut
- sprinkles, as desired
- 2 chocolate chips for eyes
FOR THE CAKE
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 9-inch round and an 8-inch round baking pan or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat oil, eggs, and sugar until well combined. Add sour cream and vanilla and blend well.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Alternate adding flour mixture with milk in two additions, beating just until combined. Don't overmix.
- Pour cake batter into prepared pans, about ¾ full. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until cake springs back when lightly touched, or toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
- Place cakes in pans on wire rack to cool for 15 minutes, and then remove from pans and allow to cool completely before frosting and decorating.
FOR THE FROSTING
- In a small saucepan, combine flour blend with milk and whisk. Place over medium heat and continue to whisk until mixture begins to bubble and thicken, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour into sieve set over a medium bowl. Press through to remove any lumps. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the mixture and refrigerate until cool.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a handheld mixer, beat flour mixture to loosen it up. Slowly add granulated sugar and beat for about 2 minutes or until fluffy. Add butter and continue to beat until smooth, fluffy, and light, about 5 minutes. It may look curdled at first, but will come together with continued beating. Add vanilla extract and mix to incorporate.
FOR COCONUT SIMPLE SYRUP
- Place the coconut in a medium bowl.
- In a small saucepan, combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil. Pour over the coconut and allow to steep for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.
- Pour the coconut mixture through a sieve set over a small saucepan and bring the liquid back to a boil. Allow the syrup to reduce slightly, about 5 minutes. Let cool before brushing onto cakes.
TO ASSEMBLE THE CAKE
- Cut sides off of the 8-inch cake layer as if there were imaginary tennis ball lines to create ears. Middle section will become bowtie. Set 9-inch round in the middle of a large serving platter and place ears on top and bowtie along the bottom. Frost cakes, adding a little extra frosting where the cakes connect to "glue" them together.
- Cover with sweetened shredded coconut and sprinkles as desired. Serve at room temperature.
8 thoughts on “Gluten Free Easter Bunny Coconut Cake”
Does the cake NEED the syrup for moisture (like many European recipes) or is it moist enough on its own?
It is perfectly moist and doesn’t absolutely need it. I just like the extra coconut flavor it offers.
I know, right?! Thank you so much! I know he’ll be super happy! And so will everyone else!
Why he decided to throw me this curve ball, I’ll never be able to tell you! Teenagers! 😊
I am guessing this will work in a 9 x 13 glass pan. Am I correct?
Haha! Yes, it’ll work in a 9 by 13 just fine 🙂
My grand-nephew just requested a Tres Leches cake! He’s not GF but I have Celiac so it needs o be GF and as much like “real” Tres Leches as possible. Any ideas?
Hi, Melissa! I DO have some ideas!! Make this same vanilla cake and then mix up the three milks (1/2 cup heavy cream, 1 12-ounce can of evaporated milk, and 1 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk). Pour over the cooled cake that’s been pricked all over with a skewer or fork. Let it soak overnight in the fridge and then top with sweetened whipped cream 🙂 (now I want a tres leches cake, too!)
This is is another wowza!!! So moist and full of flavor. I used coconut oil, because that’s usually all I have, and I didn’t have enough sour cream so put buttermilk for the part I didn’t have, and it was phenomenal. I was a little worried but thought I’d try it, didn’t want to go to the store. Thank you for another winner!!
Thanks, Pam! I’m so glad you liked it 🙂