You know Spring has sprung when Peeps hit the shelves. Those little marshmallow chicks herald longer days, warmer weather, and the promise of a future trip to the dentist. Celebrate their reemergence with the Giant Peep, a cake that is all of Spring baked into an homage to everyone’s* favorite April treat.
This Giant Peep Cake is 200x the size of a normal peep, which is important, as it contains a surprise clutch of Peeps within.
*Not actually everyone. Just everyone but Dave.
Step 1: Materials
Use your favorite cake recipe for the body of the cake. You'll want to double it up. I used two box mixes! If you want to know a secret, often when I "test-kitchen" cake recipes at work, I'll throw in one that's straight from a box. It's usually everyone's favorite, which is part disappointment, and part relief, as it means when I need to throw together a cake super quick, no one will mind if I make one from a box. Shhhh.......
The frosting here really tastes like melted down peeps. I recommend trying this, although the texture can be a bit tricky, and a buttercream, or even pre-packaged frosting would be much easier to work with. But if you're game, try this:
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 3 large egg whites
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon yellow food coloring
- Yellow sugar
- Chocolate for eyes
To shape the body you'll want to use a variety of baking vessels:
- 9x13" baking pan
- 1-quart oven safe bowl
- 2 1/2-quart oven safe bowl
Make sure to grease and flour the pans well.
This recipes makes a solid, delicious, giant peep cake. But if you're feeling zany, you can hollow it out and fill it with tiny peeps and surprise and delight your guests! I was able to fit 15 peeps in the cavity I created.
Step 2: Make the Cake
Mix up your double batch of cake. Distribute among your three greased and floured pans.
Bake at 350F for 35-40 minutes for the pan and small bowl, and 50-55 minutes for the larger bowl.
Let cakes cool in their vessels for 15 minutes, and then unmold and let cool completely.
Step 3: Shape the Cake
Once the cakes are cool, it's time to carve them into shape.
Cut the corners off of the rectangle and reserve pieces for the tail and beak.
Level the tops of the bowl cakes to create a flat surface. Eat the scraps immediately. (you're welcome)
If you want a hollow cake, use the large round cake to mark out its placement on the rectangular cake. Then cut out a circle about 1" inside this mark (see picture 3).
Cut a circle inside the large round cake, and also the small round cake if desired. I kept the smallest circle to place on top and add height to the crown.
Step 4: Assemble the Cake
I put thin strips of waxed paper under each side of the cake so that when I go to frost it later, I can be as messy as I want to be, and then gently slide out the waxed paper with all of the excess frosting on it, leaving a clean finish.
Place the large round cake upside down on the other end of the rectangle (over the hole if you decided to cut one).
Place the small round cake upside down on the large round (again, aligning holes if you decided to hollow it out).
If you've decided to stuff your cake with peeps, now is the time.
If you've cut the middle out of the small round, place this on top as well.
Trim another triangle to make a beak and use a skewer to secure to the face. You'll use frosting to fill out the rest of the beak shape.
The real trick to getting the shape right here is not to center each of the round cakes on top of the other, but to line up the backs of the rounds so it looks like the peep is pulling its head back slightly. This took me a few tries to get right.
Use toothpicks or skewers to attach 2 of the triangle corners to the short end of the rectangle cake to form a tail.
Step 5: Frosting
To make the frosting:
Create simple syrup of the sugar, cream of tartar, and 2/3 cup of water, by heating in a saucepan until dissolved.
Whip egg whites with a mixer until frothy.
Slowly beat in the simple syrup, then increase the speed of the mixer to beat into stiff peaks, about 7-8 minutes.
Beat in vanilla and food coloring until well combined.
Step 6: Decorate the Cake
Frost the cake with a "crumb coat" first - a thin layer of frosting to keep all of the crumbs in tact. Since we did so much carving on the cake, it's sure to be crumbly, and we want to contain the mess as much as possible.
Once the cake has been coated, start piling on a thick layer of frosting, Use this to smooth out the shape of your final peep, and build out the beak and the tail.
Coat the cake with a thick dusting of the yellow sanding sugar. The only way I was able to get it on the undersides of the beak and tail was to sort of throw the sugar up and at it. It was pretty fun, if not terribly effective.
For the eyes, I melted some chocolate and poured little disks. If you have chocolate wafers, use those instead.
Remove the strips of waxed paper and serve.
Step 7: Enjoy!
Since I had all these peeps, I decided to stage a few scenarios.
When the cake was cut open, all of the peeps inside spilled out in a manner that appeared to frighten the other peeps. The inside peeps them proceeded to chase the outside peeps as the outside peeps fled in terror into the open mouths of my coworkers. Yum!