Easter is just around the corner. For most of us the holiday brings with it family and family traditions. I come from a large German family on my mom’s side so, when I was younger, Easter was a time that the whole family got together; often at a park since there were so many of us. There were a lot of traditional German dishes that were brought but the one thing that I will never forget was my grandma’s butter bunny. Every year she would take a couple sticks of butter, cut them up and reassemble them to form the shape of a rabbit. She then set it on a plate with green-colored coconut and we had an adorable centerpiece and spread for our breads.
Once I got married I wanted the tradition of the butter bunny to live on. I decided to put my own swing on it though. I had been taking cake decorating classes and learning how to figure pipe, the art of creating animals or people with icing piped from a decorating bag. I had bought a book by Roland Winbeckler called Figure Piping Ideas for Cupcakes & Larger Cakes. It taught you how to pipe all sorts of cute animals onto cakes and cupcakes.
When I came across the instructions for a rabbit, an idea hopped into my mind (pun intended.) I should try piping the bunny out of butter instead of just cutting up the sticks like my grandmother had. I gave it a shot and it turned out adorable so I have been making an Easter Butter Bunny ever since.
Here is a tutorial on how to make your own butter bunny. The nice thing is that he can be made ahead of time so you can make him this weekend and then lightly cover him with plastic wrap and have him ready for Easter day. Just be sure to take him out of the refrigerator a few hours before your Easter meal so that he softens up enough for people to be able to spread him easily on their bread.
To make your own butter bunny you will need: A cookie sheet, wax paper, scissors, tape, 3 sticks of butter at room temperature, a decorating bag, a coupler, decorating tips #5 and #10 (or similar sizes), coconut, liquid green food coloring, a small plate, jelly beans, chocolate jimmies, and rainbow baking chips(or something similar.)
Step 1: Whipping the Butter
Make sure your butter is softened at room temperature. If it is straight out of the refrigerator this won’t work. Place your sticks in an electric mixer with a whip attachment and whip at high speed for about 2 to 3 minutes until the butter is airy and its color has lightened. It will have a similar consistency to a soft icing.
Step 2: Piping the Body
Prepare your decorating bag and fit it with just a coupler. If you need instructions on how to prepare an decorating bag, click here.
Cut a piece of wax paper and tape it to the back of a baking pan to use as your work surface. In the photo I ended up piping my bunny on the back of a green plastic corrugated board because the color made it easier to photograph. I normally do this on the back of a baking sheet covered in wax paper.
Pipe the body of the bunny on the center of your wax paper. You want to squeeze heavily to fill him out. To get this shape it helps to start with your decorating bag straight up and down, slightly above the surface of the pan. Start squeezing and lifting your bag as the icing gets to the fullness you want. Once you have the height you want, tilt your bag towards you and bring the bag towards you to elongate the body. As you get to the neck area, lighten your pressure so that it isn’t quite as full as the backside of the bunny.
Step 3: Piping the Head
To form the head, angle your coupler at the neck area and pipe out a big ball of butter attaching it to the body.
Step 4: Piping the Legs and Feet
Place a #10 tip on the coupler. Start with the back legs and attach them to either side of the bunny’s backside. Start near the top of the body and come down to the base, slightly lessening your pressure as you get towards the base so that it has a sort of teardrop shape.
Stick the tip into the bottom of the leg and then pull it towards you, while squeezing the bag, to form the foot. Repeat on the other side.
For the front feet, stick your tip into the bunny body, a little bit behind the head, and pull the tip towards you while squeezing. You will want to curve it a little to give it a less rigid shape. Repeat on the other side.
Step 5: Piping the Tail and Ears
The tail is a simple ball on the bunny’s backside. Still using your #10 tip, place it just off of the bunny’s bottom and pipe out a ball for the tail.
To pipe the ears, turn the bunny so he is facing you. Still using the #10 tip, pipe two mounds on the top of the head, lightening your pressure as you get to the top to give it an ear shape.
This is how your bunny will look at this point:
Step 6: Piping Nose and Eyes
To pipe the foundation of the nose, position your #10 tip just below and off to the side of the center of the ball. Pipe a flat ball. Then pipe another one right next to it.
Underneath the two balls, pipe a small flat ball in between them to make the foundation for the mouth.
Just above the nose balls, pipe two smaller balls for eyes.
Step 7: Outline Ears
Switch your tip to a #5. Pipe a line of icing around the front of the ears to define them.
Now here is how your bunny should look:
He needs some color and some life to him so it is time to add some candy.
Step 8: Adding Candy
Take a pink jelly bean and cut it in half. Add it to the center of the nose area, in between the two balls that formed the foundation for the nose.
Pull out two blue baking chips and place them in the eye balls. Be careful not to make him look cross eyed, unless that is the look you are going for.
Insert the jimmies, using longer ones to make whiskers and smaller, curved ones to form a mouth and eye brows. I find that it helps to use a pair of tweezers to position them easier.
You have completed the bunny but you need to get him very cold so that you can remove him from the wax paper. Place him in the freezer for about 20 minutes or so.
Step 9: Plating the Bunny
While your bunny is chilling in the freezer you can make the grass. Place your coconut into a plastic storage bag and add several drops of green food coloring. Shake the bag until all the coconut gets colored. If you want a brighter green add more food coloring until you have the desired shade of green.
Spread it out onto your plate so that it looks like a little field of grass.
Once your bunny is nice and chilled, remove him from the freezer and use a spatula to carefully lift him off of the wax paper and onto the grass on your plate. Sometimes his front legs will break off in this process. If that happens just stick them back in place once you have him positioned how you want on your plate. You can then add some more jelly beans around the grass to look like little Easter eggs surrounding him.
Here is the completed bunny from a head on view:
Now for an angle shot:
A little closer:
Isn’t he just the cutest?!
Have fun making your own butter bunny this Easter. Maybe you will start a new tradition in your family.
Happy Easter to all and thanks be to God for sending his son!
Until next time, God Bless and Sweet Dreams.