I love Peeps.
I’m sure that isn’t surprising, given that I love marshmallows, candy corn and Red Vines. My friend Aaren thinks Peeps are disgusting (I await her comments below) and gave me a super-cute Peep-bunny Easter basket one year because she said I was the only person on Earth who likes them. But she’s wrong! Because not only does my darling husband love Peeps, my friend Olga — possibly the healthiest eater I know — is even more obsessed with them than me.
So, when I started thinking about a Peep-related baking project a few weeks ago, I asked Olga what she thought. I had planned to bake a cake shaped like a Peep bunny (with pink sprinkles, of course), but Olga said that was not Peep-y enough. It had to include actual Peeps.
The Baltimore Sun’s food blog had a post about Peep brownies that convinced me not to bake the Peeps. And I felt like a cupcake with a Peep on top was not creative enough.
And so… the idea for the Peepcake was born.
If you would like to avoid going into a sugar coma, feel free to use a different type of cake. Chocolate would probably be good. And I won’t judge you if you use a box of cake mix. Peeps aren’t exactly organic anyway.
You could also dye the cake batter a brighter yellow or pink or something if you wanted. But I liked the light yellow. It kinda reminded me of a giant Twinkie with Peeps on top.
I think I overbaked the cake a little though, so don’t do that. The top will still be very pale when it’s done, so go ahead and test it even though you think it isn’t ready. Mine was pale yellow on top but this darker color on the sides and bottom… and the cake ended up a little dry.
I decided to use seven-minute frosting for this because it is marshmallow-like. But I realized after I made it that it’s best consumed within a day or so. Whatever kind of frosting you use, you should store the cake in an air-tight container so the Peeps don’t harden.
The assembly is the fun part. After preparing the little cake board I bought recently (at Annapolis Cake and Candy Supply, which is awesome) I put the first layer down, flat side up, and spread a kinda thick layer of frosting on top. Then I arranged some Peep bunnies around the cake as evenly as possible.
Then I put a little bit of frosting on top of the Peeps and spread a layer of frosting on the flat side of the second layer. In hindsight, I should have used more frosting in the middle. But it is difficult to spread frosting over the Peeps, so you’re better off using a thicker layer on the cake layers. Then I put the layers together…
There are obviously some big holes here, but you can cover those up when you slather the rest of the frosting all over the cake, like so:
You don’t have to worry about the sides being totally perfect, though. Why? Because of the bunnies.
I realized halfway through that you don’t even need to pull them apart. Just stick them right on there. Then it’s time for the chicks.
But I didn’t think it looked done. So I added some Easter-themed sprinkles (also from Annapolis Cake and Candy Supply).
So, here is my Easter recommendation: If you hate Peeps, make some highfalutin saffron-honey marshmallow chicks. But if you’re looking for something really Peeptacular, try this cake.
All-occasion yellow cake (From the Gourmet cookbook)
2 cups cake flour (NOT self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, left at room temperature for 30 minutes
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup whole milk
Preheat oven to 350. Butter two round cake pans (or one 13×9-inch pan) and sprinkle flour on pan, coating lightly and then knocking out excess.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt together into a bowl.
Cream butter and sugar together with an electric mixer (use the whisk attachment if using a stand mixer — I clearly didn’t read that part very carefully) at medium-high speed until fluffy and pale yellow, about five minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in vanilla and mix until thoroughly blended, about five more minutes.
Add flour mixture and milk alternately in three batches, beating on low until just combined after each addition. End with the flour mixture and mix just until batter is smooth.
Spread the batter evenly in the pans. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until cake starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cake will still be light yellow. Cool for five minutes in the pans, then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
While cake is cooling, make frosting.
Seven-minute frosting (also from the Gourmet Cookbook)
2 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
Place all ingredients in a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Beat with a hand-held electric mixer at low speed until mixture is warm and sugar is dissolved. Increase speed to high and beat about seven minutes — until the frosting is thick and fluffy.
Remove from heat and beat until frosting is slightly cooled.
3-4 packages Peep bunnies
1 package Peep chicks
Dab a small amount of frosting on the center of the cake plate or cake board. Place the first layer of cake, rounded side down, on the plate or board. Stick small pieces of wax paper around and slightly under the cake to protect plate from frosting drips.
Spread a thick layer of frosting on top of first layer, then arrange a layer of bunnies as evenly as possible on top. Spread a bit of frosting on top of the bunnies and spread a thick layer of frosting on the flat side of the second cake layer. Carefully pick up the second cake layer and place it, frosting side down, on top of the bunnies.
Use the rest of the frosting to frost the top and sides of the cake, filling in holes on the side with extra frosting. Once cake is covered in frosting, remove pieces of wax paper.
Place bunnies next to each other (no need to separate them when you take them out of the package) around the side of the cake, ears facing up. Arrange the chicks in a starburst pattern, tails facing in, on the top center of the cake. Sprinkle remaining white space with sprinkles.
Cut cake with sharp knife to serve. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature.