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There's more to this cake than first meets the eye! This delicious moist surprise pound cake reveals a chocolate Easter Bunny in every slice.
This cake takes a little bit of extra preparation time, but the end result is well worth it. Happy Easter and happy baking!
Ingredients in a Surprise Pound Cake
The pound cake earned its name from its original ingredients: one pound of butter, flour, sugar, and eggs. Modern pound cakes like this one contain a couple of extra ingredients for added flavour and a better texture!
- Unsalted butter: leave your butter out on the counter for one hour to bring it to room temperature. You can also soften your butter in the microwave by heating it in 10 second intervals on a very low setting.
- Can I use salted butter? Yes. Omit the added salt from the recipe if you do.
- Caster sugar / superfine sugar: this finely ground sugar is easier to dissolve into the butter during the creaming process. This makes the cake fluffier and moister.
- Can I use granulated white sugar? Yes, but make sure to cream it into the butter very well. Your cake may have a crispier crust and slightly denser crumb.
- Vanilla extract
- Eggs: I use 55-60g (2 oz) eggs. Eggs give the pound cake their rich colour with a slightly yellow tinge. Make sure you take the time to beat well in between the addition of each egg.
- Plain flour / all-purpose flour
- Baking powder: NOT baking soda! Check that your powder is IN DATE! Expired baking powder is a common cause of failed cakes.
- Can I use baking soda? I do NOT recommend baking soda. It can give cakes a bitter and metallic taste.
- Can I use self-raising flour? Yes. Omit the baking powder in this case.
- Milk: I use cow's milk. I have not tried baking this cake with non-dairy milks, so proceed with caution if you plan to make this cake with non-dairy milk.
- Unsweetened cocoa powder: I use Hershey's (US) or Nestle (AUS/UK) brand. Do NOT use hot cocoa powder or raw 'cacao powder.'
How To Make A Surprise Pound Cake
1. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and fluffy. This will take about 2-4 minutes on medium-high speed with a handheld or stand mixer.
2. Add the eggs, one at a time, and cream well in between each addition - this is essential for a light and fluffy cake! The mixture should still be pale and voluminous after beating in all of the eggs.
3. Sift over flour and fold in. Try not to push too much air out of the batter and do not overmix!
4. Stir in the milk, just little bit at a time, until the batter is combined. Once again, try not to deflate the batter too much.
5. Scoop approximately two cups of batter into another clean bowl.
6. Sift over cocoa powder and stir in well.
7. Spread in your greased and lined slice tin.
8. Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
9. Make sure the chocolate cake has cooled for at least 20 minutes. Using your bunny-shaped cookie cutter, cut out as many bunnies as possible (usually about 8-10).
10. Transfer carefully to a lined tray and freeze for at least 20 minutes. This will keep the bunnies in tact while baking and will make sure they don't overcook in the pound cake.
11. Spread a thin layer of vanilla batter in the bottom of your loaf tin. Press the bunnies very firmly against each other to form a log. This will make sure the vanilla batter doesn't seep in between the chocolate bunnies.
12. Distribute the rest of the vanilla batter carefully around the bunny-shaped log. Smooth out the batter on the top of the cake. Bake for 1 hr 15 mins or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean (or with a few moist crumbs clinging). If the top of the cake browns too much during baking, cover with a sheet of aluminium foil.
Equipment & Tools
You will need:
- 24 x 13 cm (9.5 x 5 inch) loaf tin. It should be at least 6.5 cm (2.5 inches) tall or taller than your Easter cookie cutter.
- 28 x 18 cm (11 x 7 inch) slice tin.
- Another large plate or tray.
- An electric stand mixer or hand mixer.
- Two large mixing bowls.
- A wooden spoon or silicone spatula.
My equipment for this recipe was very generously provided by Wiltshire Australia. I used their 24 cm Loaf Tin and 27.5 cm Slice Pan, both in rose gold. These non-stick, PFOA free pans are oven and dish-washer safe. I also used their Colour Rush Silicone Spoonula in pastel blue for easy mixing and scraping! Available for purchase here.
Why is my pound cake dry, dense or crumbly?
Pound cake is traditionally a moist and dense cake. A pound cake will be denser than other vanilla cakes, but should still be extremely moist. If your surprise pound cake is dry, then it is likely that:
You are measuring your dry ingredients incorrectly. the moistness of this cake relies on an accurate balance of dry to wet ingredients. When measuring dry goods such as flour, you should spoon the flour into your measuring cup until it is piled up high, then level off the pile with the back of a flat-bladed butter knife. When it doubt, weigh the ingredients using a kitchen scale.
You have overcooked the pound cake. Pound cakes cook long and slow. Make sure your oven is at the correct temperature. To check whether the cake is cooked, insert a clean skewer into the centre of the cake - it should come back clean or with moist crumbs clinging to it. Continue to check the cake every 5-10 mins after the recommended baking time.
You have not beaten the butter, sugar, and eggs properly. The fluffy texture of the cake relies on beating the butter and sugar together until the ingredients are properly combined. Use room-temperature ingredients for best results.
When creaming the butter and sugar, the sugar should mostly dissolve into the butter and the mixture should be very pale and fluffy. This can take anywhere between 2-4 minutes at medium-high speed.
When adding the eggs, only add them one at a time. Beat well in between each egg (about 30 seconds to 1 min at medium-high speed). The mixture should be still be very pale and somewhat fluffy by the end of the process.
Why didn't my surprise pound cake rise?
Your baking powder is expired. double check your baking powder is in date. This can easily cause sunken cakes!
You under-beat or over-beat the butter, sugar and eggs. This can either incorporate too much air into the batter (which will deflate in the oven) or not enough air (which doesn't allow the cake to rise). See above suggestions for properly beating the ingredients together.
Why do my chocolate bunnies look misshapen/have moved/look cut-off/are extremely dry?
Make sure to allow for the minimum cooling and freezing time. You MUST cool the chocolate cake for at least 20 minutes before cutting shapes. Freeze for at least 20 minutes (or longer if you know your freezer runs warm).
Freezing the bunny cut-outs keeps the bunny shapes intact while baking the cake. It also prevents the chocolate portion of the cake from over-cooking.
Choose the right cookie cutter. Use a sharp-edged cookie cutter (I much prefer metal cutters) with a simple design and less small details. Small details (such as small ears or tails) are much easier to break off while cutting/moving/freezing the cake.
It is ESSENTIAL that your cookie cutter has a maximum height of 6 cm (2 ⅓ inches) tall. Shorter cookie cutters work even better! Otherwise the chocolate shapes will poke up through the top of the cake, and cannot be 'held in place' by the weight of the vanilla cake batter.
Press the bunnies firmly together in the centre of the cake. The chocolate bunnies should be firmly pressed against one another to prevent vanilla batter seeping in between. This will make the bunnies look misshapen.
- 350 g (12.5 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 ½ cups (600 g) caster sugar / superfine sugar
- 2 teaspoon (10 mL) vanilla extract
- 6 large eggs
- 3 cups (450 g) plain flour / all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoon (12 g) baking powder
- ½ teaspoon (3 g) salt
- ½ cup (125 mL) milk
- ¼ cup (25 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- Preheat the oven to 150°C / 300°F (fan/convection) or 170°C / 340°F (standard). Grease and line a 24 x 13 cm (9.5 x 5 inch) loaf tin and a 28 x 18 cm (11 x 7 inch) slice tin with baking paper. Set aside.
- In the large bowl of an electric mixer (or using a hand mixer), beat together butter, sugar and vanilla essence until pale and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well in between. The mixture should be very pale and fluffy.
- Sift over flour, baking powder and salt. Fold in with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until well incorporated. Do not over mix.
- Stir in milk, a little bit at a time, until well combined. Try not to push too much air out of the batter.
For the Chocolate Bunnies
- Transfer two cups of batter to another bowl. Sift over the cocoa powder. Stir in until well combined.
- Spread the chocolate cake batter evenly over the base of the slice tin. Bake for 20 minutes or until puffed up and a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
- Allow to cool for 20 minutes. Using a bunny-shaped cookie cutter (or any Easter themed cutter), carefully cut out as many pieces of chocolate cake as possible. NOTE: your cookie cutter should be no taller than 6 cm (2 ⅓ inch) or it will pop out the top of the cake.
- Transfer the bunny-shaped cake pieces to a separate tray or plate lined with baking paper. Freeze for 20 minutes.
Assembling the Cake
- Spread a thin layer of vanilla cake batter into the bottom of the loaf tin. Starting from one end of the loaf tin, place the frozen bunny-shaped cake pieces side by side so they form a bunny-shaped log in the centre of the loaf tin. Make sure they are firmly pressed against each other to prevent vanilla batter seeping in between.
- Carefully distribute the remaining cake batter around the bunny-shaped log. The bunnies should be completely covered by a layer of cake batter.
- Bake for 1 hr 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean (or with a just few moist clinging crumbs). It is very important to check the cake with a skewer, as cooking time will vary according to your oven and loaf tin! If the cake starts to brown too much on top during cooking, cover with a layer of foil.
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the loaf tin before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Please note that my recipes are measured in metric cups and spoons which are larger than US cups and spoons. Most recipes will be fine if measured in US cups and spoons, but please use the weight (grams) measurement for the most accurate result.
- For best results, wrap the cooled cake (un-sliced) in cling-film and place in an airtight container. Keep for up to 3 days.
- To freeze the cooked cake: wrap tightly in cling-film then place in a zip-loc or freezer bag. Keep frozen for up to 6 months. Thaw overnight at room temperature before serving.
- If the cake has dried out a little, microwave each slice for 10 seconds just before eating to keep it warm and moist.
Substitutions & Tips
- Granulated white sugar vs caster sugar: if you want to use regular sugar instead of caster sugar, make sure you cream the butter and sugar very well to help dissolve the sugar fully into the butter. You may get a crunchier crust and slightly denser crumb.
- Cookie cutters: you can use any shaped cookie cutter. Less intricate/delicate designs are easier to work with. Your cookie cutter should be 2 cm (0.75 inch) shorter than the height of the loaf tin. This will make sure the chocolate cake pieces stay hidden and don't pop out the top of the cake.
Nutrition Information:Serving Size: 1 Slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 513Total Fat: 23.6gSaturated Fat: 8.5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11.6gCholesterol: 92.5mgSodium: 256mgCarbohydrates: 67gFiber: 1.5gSugar: 41.9gProtein: 7.2g