The Easter cake in the shape of a rabbit took a good two hours to make. There was the batter itself, and the baking. Then the chocolate ganache and the buttercream icing. There was the cooling of the layers until they could be leveled off with a serrated knife, and the gluing together of the two sides of the rabbit with a mixture of buttercream and coconut. There was the icing of the rabbit's ears, a delicate pink on the inside and white on the outside, and then the piping of little white rosettes all over the rabbit's body -- as I worked, it seemed to me that the rabbit's fur was becoming a little like dreadlocks. But that was all right -- he could be a Rastafarian rabbit. Rasta Rabbit. Finally, a cut-in-half jelly bean for the two black eyes and a whole pink one for the nose. Q colored some coconut green, and the rabbit had a nice nest on the cake stand, with a few jellybeans scattered around his feet.
The rabbit cake was awesome. There is just no other word. He was the Taj Mahal, the Grand Canyon, he was Mt. Fuji. I placed him strategically on the breakfast table, so that people would catch sight of him as they came in the front door. Most of the guests had been briefed about his appearance before hand and, I imagine, were fairly sick of hearing about him in the abstract, but they all just about dropped dead when they saw him. And rightly so. He was just awesome.
Somewhere in the course of the second hour of working on the rabbit, it had dawned on me that I was going to have a real problem serving him. He looked far too real, and we had grown much too close. Would I start at his adorable little tail and work towards the head, or begin with the ears? Or would we carve him from one side to another instead, as one would carve a chicken breast?
As dinner progressed, I became less and less interested in the approaching dessert. At length I appealed to the other diners: I would be unable to cut the cake. In fact, I would probably be unable to be in the room when the cake was cut. I had once dispatched four lobsters, already in extremis, but that was a case of putting them out of their misery, not at all like attacking a perfectly healthy rabbit cake who had never looked better in his life. Someone else would have to do it.
There was a stunned silence, as people began to work with the idea of vivisecting the Easter Bunny. No one volunteered. Suddenly Q began to sing. He played Koko the Lord High Executioner, in the Mikado at school in 1938, when he was ten years old, and he still remembered all the lyrics.
You'll have to leave the kitchen now, he said, approaching the cake with his carving knife for the coup de grace, and he didn't have to tell me twice. I scooted back into the dining room. We'll help you get through this, someone said, and I was grateful for the support. Soon rabbit cross-sections began to emerge from the kitchen on dessert plates, to be passed down the table. This is incredible, someone said with her mouth full, and Q set my plate before me. It was the head. Quickly I plopped a dollop of cream on top so I wouldn't have to look into his jellybean eyes as I feasted on the seat of whatever consciousness a rabbit cake possesses.
It was a fine Easter dinner. Are you going to make a rabbit cake next year? someone asked. I wasn't sure at first, but after dinner I decided that I could and probably would. Perhaps the time will come when I can even carve -- er, cut -- the cake myself. Or perhaps not. They also make cake pans in the shape of Easter bonnets. And Easter eggs. Less stressful.
But not nearly as awesome.