Sunflower Peeps Cake

When I have a lot of events going on – friends with birthdays, Mother’s day, holidays – I feel like I’m rushing to bake all the time and always have a specific purpose to churn out desserts. But then there are weeks where nothing’s on the schedule and there’s no reason to consume extra amounts of sugar other than my own desire. A few weeks ago I had the sudden urge to bake a cake. For no reason at all! It was a Tuesday night, I scored some Peeps 50% off after Easter, and felt like making a mess in the kitchen. It’s kind of nice not to have the pressure of making something perfect for an event or party, so I just played around with a yellow cake recipe I’ve been wanting to make and a creamy chocolate frosting I knew I couldn’t resist. And the decoration is beyond adorable, as well as extremely simple. A few simple sweeps with an offset spatula made a pretty pattern on the sides and the constellation of peeps with chocolate chips made such a fun sunflower.¬†Yay for Spring!

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This yellow cake recipe comes from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe and she claims she made over 16 different cakes to get the perfect recipe, so I had to try it. I love when bloggers perfect recipes for me – I never have the time or energy to recipe test so vigorously, but I appreciate the work of other bloggers so much! I’m sure Mel is bursting with pride, because this really is a wonderful recipe. And you can definitely feel the love she’s put into every tablespoon and half cup of ingredients, especially with all of her recipe notes towards the end of her post. I’ve made and posted a great white cake recipe on the blog before, but there’s something to say about yellow cake that’s so homey and special. Nothing overly fru-fru about yellow cake, just lots of butter and egg yolks. Yellow cake with chocolate frosting is such a classic combination, and I decided not to go crazy with too much frosting – just enough to add some sweetness to every bite. Plus the chocolate makes a nice background for the sunny yellow peeps on top in the shape of a flower.

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I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort to keep fresh flowers in our apartment these days. I can’t help but be tempted by the amazing selection of blooms – especially tulips – that grace every corner store and the entire entrance of Whole Foods since Spring sprung. They’re irresistible! Plus it just makes me happy to see flowers every day in our little window sill, and they help add some life to our concrete jungle apartment. I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since we had a backyard and a garden that produced beautiful flowers every year. Good thing Central Park is so pretty! And that I can affordably keep flowers at home. It’s a shame they die so quickly, but what I can’t provide in fresh flowers, I make up for with artificially-dyed candy marshmallows atop a delicious cake :)

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I realize it’s annoying of me that I waited to post this recipe until it was probably too late for the post-Easter sale on Peeps, but if you can’t find them in a store near you, there’s always Amazon. This cake would look stunning at a wedding shower or birthday party alongside the Sunflower Cupcakes I made a few summers ago, especially for someone as obsessed with yellow as I am!

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Sunflower Peeps Cake

Cake and frosting recipe adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe


for the yellow cake:

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
2-1/4 cups cake flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature

for the chocolate frosting:

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled to room temperature

for the decoration:

13 yellow Peeps chicks
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips


for the yellow cake**:

In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the milk and sour cream together and allow the mixture to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter for 1-2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat for another 4-5 minutes on medium speed. Add in the vanilla extract. Then add the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl in between additions as necessary.

In a large bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt by sifting them together through a fine mesh strainer. With the mixer on low, add 1/3 of the dry ingredients until just incorporated, followed by 1/2 of the milk/sour cream mixture. Mixing in between each addition, add another 1/3 of the dry, then the other 1/2 of the milk/sour cream, and then the final 1/3 of dry and mix on low speed until just combined.

Grease 2 9" cake pans and line the bottoms with a round of parchment paper. Grease the parchment and sides of the pan again. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bang the bottoms of the pans on the counter a few times to get rid of air bubbles. Bake for 25-28 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

for the chocolate frosting:

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Whisk together the powdered sugar and cocoa powder in a small bowl, then add it to the butter with the mixer on low. Slowly increase the speed on the mixture until you get to medium high, then beat the mixture for another minute or so. Add the vanilla and cooled, melted chocolate chips to the mixer and whip together for 5 minutes until smooth and uniform in color.

for the decoration:

To assemble the cake, load about 1/3 of the chocolate frosting into a piping bag with a large round tip or a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off. Place one cake layer on a cake round and pipe a circle of frosting along the edge, and fill in with more frosting. Smooth out with an offset spatula and set the other cake layer on top. Frost the edge and top of the cake with the remaining frosting. To achieve the design I made on the sides I simply let the edge of an offset spatula gently rest on the frosting as I spun the cake around to create "rustic" lines.

Place the Peeps along the edge of the cake in the shape of a sunflower, then fill the inside with concentric circles of chocolate chips. This can be a tedious job, but worth it I promise!

** Please, please head over to Mel's Kitchen Cafe to read about her process creating the recipe and all the reasons things are the way they are. She's really informative and I think her thorough description helped make this cake such a success for me. I would hate for you to miss out on any important points with my condensed instructions here :)

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5 Responses to “Sunflower Peeps Cake”

  1. #
    cookingmommy — May 15, 2014 @ 7:34 pm

    I also have a weakness for the yellow cake and chocolate, it is a master combination that has been a standard for us cake lovers forever. You have inspired me to do this cake for our dieting group. We are going with 75% real chocolate powder, this helps burn fat. In addition we are going to top this off with real raw chocolate (cacao bits)

    Dark chocolate causes weight loss

  2. #
    Hana Sarker — May 16, 2014 @ 1:14 am

    I don’t like peeps :( not I’m thinking about recreating this cake with yellow candy melts instead :)

    • Erica — May 16th, 2014 @ 7:59 pm

      I don’t really like Peeps either, but they make the cake look so pretty that it’s worth buying some and then just choosing not to eat them :) Yellow candy melts might work too! Enjoy!!

  3. #
    Jamie@Milk 'n' Cookies — May 16, 2014 @ 10:29 am

    This is such an adorable cake, and yet I love how the decoration seems relatively simple. I’m not that skilled at cake decorating, so I certainly appreciate a cake that looks lovely without a lot of complicated techniques. I can’t wait to try this — thanks for sharing!

    • Erica — May 16th, 2014 @ 8:00 pm

      Yes, it’s great because it’s so easy to decorate but packs a real cuteness factor!!

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