Each Easter I try to come up with a creative dessert for the family and more often than not, I’ll end up baking a cake. This year I decided to rely on our family favourite, carrot cake. Only instead of frosting it with the traditional cream cheese frosting or even better (my husband’s favourite, pumpkin pie spice buttercream) I chose to go with a milk chocolate buttercream. I knew I needed to use a buttercream frosting because in my head, I had a picture of a bird nest cake that just wouldn’t go away and buttercream frosting had the consistency that would enable me to transfer the image from my head onto the carrot cake.
If you’ve never had carrot cake with milk chocolate buttercream frosting, let me tell you it is very good. I frosted the piece that was cut to make the hole for the nest and had a few sample bites. You know, just to make sure it was O.K. to serve to guests.
The recipe for the carrot cake is posted here.
The buttercream recipe is from Magnolia Bakery’s Vanilla Buttercream. I doubled the recipe and added a 10 oz package of (melted in a double boiler and cooled to lukewarm temperature) Ghiradelli Milk Chocolate Chips.
To make this cake:
Three layers of carrot cake, cooled. Apply a layer of buttercream icing between each layer as you stack your layers.
When the top layer has been added, cut a line approximately 4″ in diameter around the center of the layer.
Using a small off-set spatula, cut all around the circle just deep enough to go through the top layer only. Lift out the cut circle and set aside (for snacking on later).
Apply frosting around the remains of the top layer and inside the *nest.* Finish dirty icing the entire cake. Set in the fridge to cool before applying the finished layer of frosting.
When cake has cooled, remove from fridge and apply final coat of frosting. Smooth out the frosting around entire cake.
Fill a piping bag with the milk chocolate buttercream. Using a #4 tip, begin piping lines in random directions and random lengths. Start piping insides the nest being and then work your way to the outside top of the cake.
Once you have completed piping the nest on the top layer, begin piping the sides of the cake. I found it easier to pipe in 3-inch sections from top to bottom working my way all around the cake. Don’t worry, it doesn’t take as long as you think it will.
Once your *nest* design has been completed, fill the nest with your choice of coloured candy Easter eggs. I used M&M’s. If you are good at fondant sculpture, you can make the bird. As you can see, I bought a little inedible one to decorate the nest.
I removed the bird and the eggs before wrapping and storing the cake in the freezer where it will (hopefully) be safe until Easter weekend!
UPDATE AUGUST 2016: I’ve received a lot of questions about trying this with other types of frosting or coverings. The most effective alternative would be to use fondant.
Also, This article seems to be getting visited by a lot of complete beginners. I recommend you start by learning the basics of cake decorating first, then attempt to perform this bird nest cake.
UPDATE FEBRUARY 2014: This month I’ve received a lot of requests for the recipe for this carrot cake. I do have a link to the recipe in the post but decided to update and publish the recipe on this page. Enjoy!
Kathleen’s Carrot Cake Recipe
2 cups of unbleached flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
3/4 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
3/4 cup of white sugar
3/4 cup of packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups of vegetable oil
2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
2 cups of grated carrots
1 cup of crushed pineapple
1/2 cup of chopped pecans (optional)
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl and whisk together well. Set aside.
In your mixing bowl beat together sugars, eggs, oil and vanilla until smooth. Gradually add flour and spice mixture until well combined. With mixer set on low, add carrots, pineapple and pecans.
Pour into prepared cake pans or cupcake pans.
Bake cakes at 350° for 40 minutes until cake tester comes out clean. For X-large cupcakes bake for approximately 28 minutes at 350° until cake tester comes out clean. Let cool in baking pans before removing to cooling racks.