A fun and beautiful Easter Cake is so easy to make when the decorations are made out of candy! This Peeps cake has multi-colored layers and an Easter theme, so it’s perfect for holiday celebrations this Spring.
Layer cakes are my favorite dessert to make when it’s a holiday or I have guests coming over for a party. A tall, layered cake is super impressive looking, even if it’s a snap to bake and decorate like this Easter cake is.
If it’s not quite Easter yet, you might want to make a King Cake, which is traditionally eaten for Mardi Gras celebrations.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Easy to Decorate: Instead of fancy piping, adding candy to decorate a cake is way easier. Grass made from sweetened coconut, chocolate eggs, and a ring of bunny peeps are perfect Easter cake decorations.
- Fun Colors: If the outside of this cake wasn’t fun enough for you, wait until everyone sees the inside! We’ll color the cake batter with food coloring to make each layer a different springtime color.
- Scratch Vanilla Cake Recipe: It’s easy to make a delicious vanilla cake from scratch as long as you have a good recipe! This recipe uses butter and buttermilk to create a tender, bakery-style cake that everyone loves.
- Step By Step Instructions: If you’ve never made a beautiful layer cake like this one, my recipe will teach you how to bake, stack, and fill a layer cake perfectly.
Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
- Butter: Unsalted butter is used in the cake batter as well as to make a rich buttercream frosting.
- Sugar: Regular granulated sugar is the best choice for baking a cake.
- Eggs: 3 large eggs pull the cake batter together. Let your eggs come to room temperature along with the butter before mixing.
- Buttermilk: Whole milk can be used instead of buttermilk if you prefer, but adding buttermilk to cake makes them extra soft and velvety.
- Vanilla Extract: The perfect flavor for a vanilla cake! You can feel free to add almond extract if you prefer as well. A bit of coconut extract would also work well!
- Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, and Salt: These common pantry ingredients are the dry mix for our scratch cake recipe. Sift them together before adding to the cake batter.
- Gel Food Coloring: I’m using pink, yellow and blue food coloring to match the colors of my Easter bunny peeps.
- Vanilla Buttercream: An easy Vanilla Buttercream frosting is made with unsalted butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, salt, and heavy cream.
- Decorations: 24 Bunny peeps in three different colors, 1 bag of easter M&Ms, and 1 cup of sweetened coconut flakes, (dyed green) are what you’ll need. I’ll tell you how to color the coconut below.
How to Make a Peeps Easter Cake
- Prepare to Bake a Layer Cake: Preheat the oven and grease 3 9-inch pans with shortening or butter and dust with flour. Set the pans aside.
- Make the Batter: Start by creaming together the butter and sugar using an electric mixer on medium speed. Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating each before adding the next. Add the vanilla extract, and beat until well-blended.
- Mix: In a separate bowl, sift and then whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt so that it’s well-combined. With a wooden spoon or spatula, gradually fold in the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, alternating adding the flour with adding buttermilk, until just barely combined. Do not overmix the batter.
- Color the Cakes: Divide the batter equally into three small bowls. Add a drop of the pink, yellow, and blue food coloring separately to each bowl of batter. Stir gently until the color is mixed. Pour each batter into each of the 3 cake pans.
- Bake: Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Make Frosting: While the cakes are cooling, make the buttercream frosting by creaming the butter with an electric hand mixer on medium speed. Gradually add in the powdered sugar a half cup at a time until all of it is mixed in. Pour in the vanilla extract, salt, and cream, and blend on low speed until completely smooth. Add ¼ of the frosting into a piping bag with a large round tip.
- Build the Layer Cake: Put a small amount of buttercream in the center of your cake stand or platter and place the blue cake in the middle of the stand. Pipe the buttercream around the top of the blue cake, spiraling inward until the top is covered. Use an offset spatula to smooth out the buttercream. Continue the same process with the yellow cake and then the pink cake. Use the spatula to spread buttercream thinly on the sides of the cake (the crumb coat), then place the cake in the freezer for 20 minutes.
- Decorate: Add a fresh layer of buttercream to the sides of the cake, then place the bunny peeps around the outside, alternating colors. With a large star tip, pipe the remainder of the frosting into small swirls around the edge of the top of the cake. Sprinkle the middle of the cake with green coconut and M&M eggs. Serve and Enjoy!
Parchment paper circles make removing cakes from the pan a breeze!
- Use a scale: To be sure that your layers are all the same size, use a kitchen scale to weigh the three bowls of batter.
- Measure Correctly: When following a cake recipe, it’s important to properly measure all of the ingredients. See all of my measuring tips and tricks if you need a reminder.
- Level if needed: If your cakes come out domed you may need to level them using a serrated knife. Also, if the bottoms of the cakes are too brown for any reason, you can carefully slice off the brown layer to get perfectly colored cakes.
- The Best Cake Pans: The best cake pans for layer cakes are straight sided round pans. They will make removing the cakes easier, and the layers will rise evenly when baking. I use these non-stick pans and get great results every time.
- Use Gel Food Coloring: You’ll get the most vivid and bright colors in your baked goods using a gel based food coloring rather than a liquid. Wilton gel food colors are my favorites. The set linked here has all of the basic colors and will last you a long time.
- Is your freezer full? Instead of setting the crumb coat in the freezer, put the cake in the fridge for 40 minutes instead.
What to Serve with Peeps Easter Cake
You are going to want to make this fun cake to go along with your Easter brunch or dinner menu!
Finish the menu with more Easter Desserts! Try these Cookie Cups with chocolate eggs, or make up a batch of Bunny Bait white chocolate popcorn. No Bake Strawberry Pie is also delicious for any Spring holidays.
You can create a buttermilk substitute, which works the exact same way as buttermilk, by combining regular whole milk with a splash (about a tablespoon) of white vinegar. Give it a stir and let it sit for a couple of minutes, it will thicken up and work perfectly in this recipe. Regular whole milk can be used as well.
You can make the cake and store it, covered, in the refrigerator for up to three days. I suggest adding the peeps to the cake just before serving as they will dry out and harden once they are removed from the package.
It’s super simple to turn regular sweetened, shredded coconut into green coconut grass. Just put the coconut in a ziptop bag, and add a few drops of green gel food coloring. Seal the bag, and rub the food coloring into the coconut without getting your hands messy.
Your family is going to be so impressed with this fun Easter Cake that you make for them! Be sure to Pin this recipe to save it for later.
For the Cake:
- 1 cup/2 sticks (250g) unsalted butter softened
- 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 cup buttermilk or whole milk
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups all purpose flour spooned and leveled, plus extra for dusting pans
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 drop Gel Food Coloring each about ⅛ teaspoon: Pink, yellow, and blue
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:
- 2 cups/4 sticks (450g) unsalted butter softened
- 8 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup heavy whipping cream
- 24 Bunny Peeps pink, blue, and yellow
- 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes dyed green
- 1 bag Easter M&M's
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Grease 3 x 9-inch pans with shortening or butter and dust with a tablespoon of flour each. Set pans aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed. Add the eggs, one at a time, and make sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. Add the vanilla extract, and beat until well blended.
- In a separate medium bowl, sift and then whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to make sure it’s thoroughly combined. With a wooden spoon or spatula, gradually fold in the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, alternating adding the flour and the buttermilk, until just barely combined. Do not over-mix the batter.
- Divide the batter equally into three small or medium bowls. (It’s best to use a digital kitchen scale to make sure the weights are equal.) Add a drop of the pink, blue, and yellow food coloring separately to each bowl of batter. Stir the batter gently until the color is well mixed. Pour each batter into each of the 3 cake tins.
- Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the tin for about ten minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack to cool the cakes completely.
To make the buttercream:
- While the cakes are cooling, cream the 2 cups of butter with an electric hand mixer on medium speed. Gradually add in the powdered sugar (about ½ cup at a time) until all of the powdered sugar has been mixed into the butter.
- Pour in the vanilla extract, salt, and heavy whipping cream, and blend at low speed until completely smooth. Put about a ¼ of the buttercream into a piping bag with a large round tip.
- Put a small amount of buttercream onto the base of a cake stand or platter, and place the blue cake in the middle of the stand. Pipe the buttercream around the top of the blue cake, and spiral inward until the top is covered. Use a spatula to smooth out the buttercream. Continue with the yellow cake and then the pink cake.
- Use a spatula to add buttercream to the sides of the cake and spread thinly. This will be your crumb coat. Place the cake in the freezer for 20 minutes (or in the refrigerator for 40 minutes).
- Add a fresh layer of buttercream to the sides so it covers the cake neatly.
- Then place the Bunny Peeps around the sides of the cake, alternating Pink, Blue, and Yellow.
- With a large star tip, pipe the remainder of the frosting into small swirls around the edge of the top of the cake. Sprinkle the middle of the cake with green coconut and M&M's.
- Food coloring: Specific colors used for this cake were Wilton’s Gel Coloring Rose, Lemon Yellow, and Sky Blue. Wilton’s Kelly Green was used to dye the coconut.
- Gel food color is very vibrant. A tiny drop is enough to give bright colors.
- This cake was made with dark cake tins. If using light cake tins, bake at 350°F/180°C for 25-30 minutes.
- To dye the coconut, I did the following
I put 1 cup of sweetened coconut flakes into a gallon-sized ziplock bag.
I put ⅛ teaspoon of Green food coloring gel into a small ramekin, added a drop of water, and stirred it around until the food coloring had thinned slightly.
I poured the food coloring into the ziplock bag with the coconut, and I shook the bag and rubbed the food coloring onto the coconut.
After the color was evenly distributed, I spread the coconut out on a piece of parchment paper for it to dry. It took about 30 minutes for it to dry completely.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
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