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This article was taken from our July 2019 Issue

White Rabbit Cakes

These Lewis Carroll-inspired white rabbits are ideal for any tea party – not just Alice’s. The cakes are baked in gold foil cases, which makes them look extra special, and is a reference to the gold watch the white rabbit carries.

Half the cakes have coconut marzipan ears, while the others sport bunny tails. In both cases, desiccated coconut makes the perfect rabbit fur. I’ve even hidden a very important ‘date’ in the centre of each mini cake. Don’t worry: no one will be late when these are on the table.


Recipe from Quintessential Baking, Frances Quinn, Bloomsbury, Photography by Georgia Glynn-Smith

Makes 24


  • 50g pistachios, toasted
  • 50g butter, softened
  • 50g light muscovado sugar
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 50g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Finely grated zest of ½ orange
  • 50g finely grated carrot (about ½ medium carrot)
  • 12 pitted soft-dried dates (50-100g)
  • 100g desiccated coconut
  • ½ egg white, at room temperature (15-17g; reserve the rest of the white for decoration)
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 100g icing sugar
  • ½ tsp freeze-dried strawberry powder
  • 50g desiccated coconut
  • 50g butter, softened
  • 100g icing sugar, sifted
  • ½ tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp lemon extract
  • 75g full-fat cream cheese
  • 24 hole mini muffin tin
  • 24 gold foil mini muffin cases
  • Curved edge modelling tool, or wooden latte stirrer
  • Curved edge modelling tool, or wooden latte stirrer
  • Large piping bag with optional
  • Large piping bag with optional


Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Line the muffin tin with the foil cases. After toasting the pistachios, set aside 24 whole nuts and chop the rest.

Using a hand-held electric whisk (it’s tricky to beat this small a quantity in a freestanding mixer), beat the butter and sugar together for 5-10 minutes or until the mixture is very light and creamy and a pale café au lait shade. Break the egg into a mug or jug and beat with a fork. Gradually add the egg to the butter and sugar mixture, beating well after each addition. Sift the flour and cinnamon into the mixture and fold in. Finally, stir through the orange zest, carrot and chopped pistachios.

Spoon the mixture into your cases, dividing it equally. Cut the dates in half lengthways and stuff each half with one of the reserved whole pistachios. Press a stuffed date, cut side up, into the centre of the mixture in each case (if some or all of your dates are very long, you might need to cut them down to fit into the cakes). Use a teaspoon to cover the dates with cake mix.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cakes have risen and a skewer pushed in (around the dates) comes out fairly clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring the cakes, still in their foil cases, to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cakes are baking and cooling, make your coconut marzipan. Put the desiccated coconut in a food processor, or coffee or spice grinder, and grind to a really fine powder (in batches, if necessary). Put the egg white into a medium bowl with the lemon juice and mix together. Sift in the icing sugar, then add the ground coconut and stir to bring together into a ball, using a spatula to pick up all the mixture from around the side of the bowl.

Remove a quarter of this coconut marzipan and place in a separate bowl. Sift in the freeze-dried strawberry powder through a fine sieve (to remove any seeds). Knead into the marzipan to tint it a pale pink. Add an extra drop of lemon juice or egg white to moisten, if necessary. Keep the pink marzipan wrapped in clingfilm until needed. To create the rabbit ears, pull 24 pieces from the remaining white coconut marzipan, each weighing about 4g. Roll each piece into a sausage shape 4cm long and narrower at one end than the other. Flatten each shape slightly with your fingertips and mould into a rabbit ear. Lay the ears on a sheet of baking parchment or foil and, with the curved edge modelling tool or latte stirrer, create a lengthways indent within each rabbit ear.

Pull off 24 little pieces from the pink marzipan – about 2g each. Roll each piece between your thumb and forefinger until it is 3cm long, then press into the indent in a rabbit ear with your modelling tool or stirrer. You can use a little lemon juice or egg white, applied with the paintbrush, to help the marzipan stick, if necessary. Leave to set while you create your rabbits’ tails.

Pull off 12 pieces, about 4g each, from the remaining white coconut marzipan and roll each into a hazelnut-sized ball.

Place on a plate and, holding each ball at the sides, press down slightly to create a flat base. Lightly paint these rabbit tails with egg white and sprinkle over some of the 50g desiccated coconut to cover. Leave to set.

Next make the lemon cream cheese buttercream. Using a hand-held electric whisk, beat the butter in a medium bowl until soft and pale. Sift the icing sugar into the bowl in batches, working in the sugar with a spoon before adding the lemon juice and extract. Beat at full speed until the buttercream is really light and fluffy. Finally, beat in the cream cheese for about 1 minute (not much more – if you overbeat at this stage the cream cheese could ‘split’ and loosen the buttercream; if this does happen, place it in the fridge to firm up slightly).

Transfer the buttercream to the piping bag fitted with the 1.5cm nozzle; if you are using a disposable piping bag, you can just snip off a similar-sized opening from the tip. Pipe the buttercream onto your cakes in a domed shape, covering the cake’s surface to ensure a fully ‘white’ rabbit. Sprinkle with the rest of the desiccated coconut for decoration, then chill for 15 minutes to firm up the buttercream slightly. Place two coconut marzipan ears in the buttercream on 12 of the cakes, and a tail on each of the others.