Easter Bird Nest Cake

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.


Completed Cake 4

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.

Layers Frosted

When the top layer has been added, cut a line approximately 4″ in diameter around the center of the layer.

Cut for Nest

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).

Nest Scooped

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.

Dirty Iced

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.

Nest Design Application

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.

Design on Sides

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.

Completed Cake 6

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 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

3 eggs

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.

Thank you for visiting & taking the time to leave a comment!

  1. This is so adorable. Just love the idea and the look of the finished “Nest”. Thank you for sharing and Happy Easter!

  2. This cake is too cute Paula! It’s also HUGE! I hope your family saves plenty of room after Easter dinner to have a nice big piece (along with those candy eggs of course). The addition of the bird is adorable too! As always, you’ve done a fantastic job! Happy Easter to you and your family!

  3. Paula, this looks so adorable and realistic!! I was going to see if these were little sticks of some kind…just darling!! Happy Easter to you and your family!

  4. Ahhh Paula…..this cake is awesome. I love the whole idea of a bird’s nest for Easter….and this cake is the cutest. How creative! And I can only imagine how yummy it is. Sounds divine! ♥♥

  5. I was wondering if the cake recipe makes all 3 of these cakes or if the recipe just names one cake and you have to duplicate the cake the three times? And where do I get the bird?I want to do this Wknd :)))

    • My carrot cake recipe makes enough to make this cake as shown on the blog. I divide my batter up into three 8″ round cake pans which I have greased (with Crisco shortening) and lined with a light coating of flour. I also line the bottom of the pans with a circular piece of parchment paper.

      To divide up my batter evenly between the three pans I pour it first into a glass 1 cup measuring cup and fill each pan with the batter, one cup at a time per each pan until the batter has been equally shared between all three pans.

      I purchased the little bird at my local Dollar store, in the floral decor section.

    • Hi Tommy ~ Using chocolate sprinkles if you don’t have piping bags is a great idea! Additionally, you could make a piping bag from a small baggie, just snip a small hole in a bottom corner of the bag, fill with buttercream and pipe away.

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  7. I love this cake! I also would like to know about the 3 carrot cake layers please. The link to the cake recipe doesn’t specify the pans to use, so did you just pour the recipe into 3 eight inch round pans and reduce the cooking time? Thanks!

  8. It sure looks like a great cake, and looks like it will not take all day to make it. Thanks for the idea, and who would have have thunk chocolate frosting on carrot cake! I,m making this for Easter! Have a great Easter!

  9. Thanks for the inspiration! I tried it (to those that were asking I did have to make two batches for 3 layers…… The twigs…. Well I applaud you- I only did the top in twigs—- my patience wore thin! Lol thank thank you! And the cake was delish(the scraps from the cut out!

  10. This would be perfect for any spring function not just Easter…..I plan on making this for a Mother’s Day Brunch….can’t wait to see everyone’s reaction :)

  11. Thanks again for this Paula!! I made the cake and decorated it like you did, what a hit! The carrot cake and the icing were delicious.

  12. This cake turned out wonderfully!!! Carrot cake and carob frosting goes very well together!! All my kids agree it is a keeper!! Hubby loved it as well :)) thank you very much for sharing this :)

  13. How cute! This must have taken you for ever! Awesome job!
    Happy Belated Easter! :)
    Have a great week!
    Dixie n Dottie
    SMILE, GOD LOVES YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  15. Paula,
    I’m so behind on commenting on my favorite blogs but I wanted to make sure that I commented on this post because when I first saw this cake I was in awe. It is absolutely gorgeous. I really want to make one of these next year. Thank you for sharing your amazing talent. Hugs!

  16. Paula –

    I love this and am going to attempt it this Easter!! But, I do have a question … how did you “smooth” the final layer of frosting after you applied it? I’m not sure how to do that.

  17. Love it, my kids just love carrot cake, and whats more one of them is into bird watching, must do this for him instead of our tradition figolli for easter, Thank you for a splendid idea.

  18. Great idea. Looks so pretty. Was wondering could I use coconut (dipped in milk chocolate) instead of piping for outside of nest? I dont think I have patience for all the piping. What do you all think?

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  20. Loved this! My sons birthday is Easter so I’m always looking for an easy but “special” cake I can do for him! When I first saw the picture I thought you used Cadbury chocolate Easter eggs ( the small candy covered ones) they would be perfect! Thanks for the “do-able” birds nest! Now how to get it from NC to BAllston Spa New York. Son is in the nuclear proto type school of the Navy. Hooyah!

  21. I’m wondering if chocolate covered stick pretzels could be used for the twig effect thus making a crunchy outside? What do you think?

  22. I’m confused. The instructions say to cool the layers before icing. Then after icing the “nest,” the instructions say to play in refrigerator until cake is cool. I thought it was already cool??

      • Hi there ~ The first cooling is meant for after the cakes are baked. Let cool on counter (on their cooling racks) before you apply the layer of “dirty icing.”. The second cooling (in the fridge) is after you have “dirty iced” the cake and before you apply the final layer of frosting and the “nest” design. Sorry for any confusion :)

  23. It looks very yummy and it’s beautiful I just might try this one as I love butter cream frosting, and the addition of chocolate to it will be awesome I’m sure. :)

  24. Another option that would look realistic and easy would be to use Crunchy Chow Mein noodles , gently fold and mix into melted chocolate chips (possibly dark and milk to give multiple colors) and pat them onto the cake. You could also use the frosting as well, these would make really cute personal nests using Large muffin tins.

  25. Okay so I have made this but with chocolate spider recipe around the outside instead of just chocolate and its amazing!!

  26. Hi, I just wanted to let you know that a Facebook page known as Cutchi Kitchen has been sharing your blog photos without any credit to you. I find this sad, so thought of letting you know.

    • Thanks so much for letting me know Meghan. It was very nice of you to do so and I appreciate it very much. I have contacted Cutchi Kitchen and the post has been removed from their FB page.

  27. Oh! I’ve just seen this and I liked it so much! I’ll try it out for the Holly Week ( because I’m writing you from Lima-PERU in South America and here the Eastern is called Holly Week) I’m sure it’ll be a great surprise for the little ones of my family!

    • Hi Isabel ~ I’m delighted that you like the cake enough to try it this Easter. I’m sure the little ones will love it. Happy Easter to you and your family :)

  28. Would a bunt cake be easier? The middle would not have to be cut out. Also chinese noodles covered in chocolate for the nest look. I may try that. Cake is gorgeous for Easter!!

  29. Super Cute Cake. I think it might be a little easier to frost the first 2 layers and cut the hole in the top layer before placing it on the top. This would eliminate the mess of trying to remove the cake where you had cut the hole. Thanks for your recipe.

    • Hi Crystal ~ Using a large muffin tin to make individual nests is a great idea! Your grandchildren are going to really enjoy them. Thanks for visiting :)

  30. Just made this for my sister who is a bird lover – she LOVED it. I’m not a professional baker, but do it for fun. Posted a picture on FB and everyone thinks it’s great. Thanks so much for sharing – and for encouraging me by saying making the sticks didn’t take as long as you’d think. Totally true!

  31. When I first saw the picture, I thought the twigs were crunchy chow mein noodles coated in the buttercream and spread onto the cake. That’s neat that you piped them! Probably works a lot better that way! LOL

  32. My daughter & I will be making this cake soon! Thanks so much for the easy-to-follow instructions. IF (and that’s a big “if”) my cake turns out as beautifully as yours I’ll be sharing it on my blog…with a link back to you, of course! Although, if it’s a flop that might be a fun blog post too. The readers can always visit your site to see how a pro does it. ;) Once again, thanks for the inspiration!

  33. I loved the chocolate carrot cake it is so cute and I will make this and let you know how it comes out, wow thanks

  34. I was just wondering if anyone has tried to use rice noodles and stirl them in whipped chocholate icing if they would get the same effect for the nest, it would be a bit easier…..

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  36. How do you make the chocolate butter cream frosting? I want to make this but I don’t bake much and this looks fun.

  37. Amei o Bolo, só que sou desastrada para trabalhos domésticos. Tem como fazer este bolo e enviar por SEDEX? Qual a sua validade? Qual o valor caso seja possivel a minha encomenda
    Aguardo a resposta, pois preciso para a Páscoa

  38. I think it would be easier to cut the circle out of the cake BEFORE you put it on the other two layer? Anyway, I like this because it not only looks festive and fun, it sounds like the cake itself is delish……a win win

    • Hi Paulette ~ Thanks for visiting. I made this almost two weeks before serving it. It froze and thawed very well and was as good as fresh.

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    • I had the same thought as Stephen, using peeps as well as piping green grass–just on top–and fill with eggs; thinking of making one of each. Would be cute at Halloween to make the top cut more shallow, decorate the hole and small portion of the top layer like a mud pit with red gummy worms and black licorice spiders crawling out of the hole, on the top, and a few strategically crawling down the sides. Just thinking of all the possibilities.

    • I had the same thought as Stephen, using peeps as well as piping green grass–just on top–and fill with eggs; thinking of making one of each. Would be cute at Halloween to make the top cut more shallow, decorate the hole and small portion of the top layer like a mud pit with red gummy worms and black licorice spiders crawling out of the hole, on the top, and a few strategically crawling down the sides. Just thinking of all the possibilities.

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  43. Hi Darcy Hebdon,

    Please send me your easy recipe for the carrot cake using carrot baby food.


    • Hi Christa! I covered the cake with parchment paper first and then used two layers of plastic wrap over the parchment paper. Thank you for your visit!

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  45. Thank you so much for sharing this great carrot cake recipe. it is just absolutely amazing and I can’t wait to attempt to make one. I hope mine turns out as great as yours did. Thanks again for sharing it.

  46. My birthday is sometimes close to Easter. One year my Mother frosted an Angel Food cake, filled the hole in with frosting with green dyed coconut for grass, then had tiny eggs & baby chicks in the grass. Very cute. May try your version for Easter.

  47. Pingback: The Cutest Bird Nest Easter Cake Recipe - DIY & Crafts For Moms

    • I would also be interested in the buttercream frosting recipe. There used to be link to go to the recipe but I don’t see it! Thanks.

  48. When I first saw this cake I said…”Oh, my gosh! I love it!”…
    I have been deemed the ‘cake maker’ in our family. Don’t know about that, because I’m not always consistent in great looking cakes..however, they usually taste pretty good. Thanks so much for posting this..I shall give it a try!
    Happy Easter!

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  50. This is such a beautiful cake and can’t wait to try it for Easter. You said purchased the bird, where?

    • Courtney, I purchased mine from the local Michael’s Arts and Crafts. But you can find them at most places that carry floral supplies.

  51. I made this just yesterday for my son’s girlfriend’s birthday! She loved it, I loved it, everyone loved it!! I used my own ginger carrot cake recipe and used the buttercream recipe in your article! It was easy and fabulous!! A definite keeper for Spring/Easter/Birthdays!! Thank you for posting such a lovely design!!!

    • Hi Kelly! Your are most welcome! I think it’s wonderful that you made this cake for your son’s girlfriend’s birthday. Your ginger carrot cake recipe sounds great. Thank you for visiting and taking the time to leave your comment. So happy to hear that everyone loved what you created for them.

  52. I love this cake! Its gorgeous! However…when I saw it I didn’t realize everything was PIPED, I thought it was CHOWMEIN (LO MEIN noodles, chocolate covered. Could this work as well if hands cant handle the piping process? I could never do this tiny work even though I make beautiful meringue cookies, they are much larger.

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  55. I’m the Editorial Assistant for Fun Family Crafts and I wanted to let you know that we have featured your cake! You can see it here:


    If you have other kid-friendly ideas, we’d love it if you would submit them. If you would like to display a featured button on your site, you can grab one from the right side bar of your post above. Thanks for a fun project!

  56. I can’t wait to try making this cake. Before Easter. It is so clever and I’m sure will make a great hit with the grandchildren….. thanks. And I hope it looks as close as I can make it to look as best I can…….

  57. Thank you and I will make this for Easter…. It looks really wonderful and I’m sure will be a big hit with the grandchildren……

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  60. Is there anything else i could use for the little lines inside and outside the cake? Or would the butter cream be the best option to go?

  61. Hi Paula,

    Was wondering if the cake would look gorgeous with a pink or yellow buttercream frosting? any suggestions other than the chocolate? I thought I would try a strawberry/white cake.

  62. Did you use ghiradelli dark choc chips? Made cake lastnight and it’s a light chocolate, maybe because of all the powdered sugar. Please let me know. Will make again in two weeks.

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  69. Just found this cake while looking for ideas for a bridal shower. This is a second marriage for both bride and groom and don’t have need of anything major. We thought about a “Garden Party” theme with hats and lace parasols with plenty of seed packets and flower pots. (They both love gardening) This birds nest cake would be a big hit! Thanks for the ideas!

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  81. I made this for Easter this year. It was a very cute cake idea. I recommend following the directions to let the cake cool before adding the egg candies. Also, be sure to leave a thick perimeter around the cake’s edge. I cut the pool too close to the edge, which causes a breech in the levy! The cake ended up falling over right before we cut it. It was OK though- everyone saw it completed and enjoyed it. However, there are some structural concerns with this guy that one should be aware of while constructing this masterpiece. Happy baking and creating!

    • Hi Meghan! Thanks so much for you comment and for making this cake. I’m sorry to hear that yours toppled over during the cutting of it. Yes, it is necessary to leave a wide perimeter around the edge when cutting the hole for the nest. Additionally, the egg candies should only be added once the entire cake has been frosted and the frosting has had a chance to set. I appreciate your visit here.