An Easter basket is a popular symbol of this spring holiday and creating a candy-filled basket in cake form is a simple and fun way to make an Easter cake. A basic layer cake that is not overly sweet is used for this recipe to offset the sweetness of the rich frosting and assorted Easter candy decorations. Children will enjoy helping fill these "baskets" with their favorite Easter treats.
Mix together 1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 2 tsps. baking powder and 1/4 tsp. salt in a small bowl. In a large bowl, beat 1/3 cup shortening, 3/4 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup milk and 1 tsp. vanilla extract. When the butter and sugar mixture is uniform in color and consistency, slowly add the dry ingredients until they have been well incorporated into the mixture. Pour the cake batter into two well-greased 8 inch pans and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove the cake layers from the pans and allow them to cool on a wire rack or clean kitchen counter. When the layers are cool, carefully cut a 4-inch diameter circle out of the center of one of the layers.
A simple buttercream icing can be tinted by adding a few drops of food coloring in any color. Buttercream icing is made by beating together 1/2 cup vegetable shortening, 1/2 cup butter, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 4 cups confectioners' sugar and 2 tbsps. milk. When the icing is smooth, it's ready to apply to the cake.
Place the whole cake layer onto a cake board or a cake stand. Frost the cake's top with buttercream icing and then place the second layer on top of the icing. The hole in top layer forms the basket opening. Frost the top of this layer including the cut edges as well as the sides of the cake. Now the cake is ready to decorate. Create Easter grass by placing shredded coconut into a Ziploc bag with a few drops of food coloring and shaking the bag to tint the coconut. Small chocolate bunnies and jelly beans can be placed directly into the center of the Easter basket cake to complete the effect. A length of rope licorice creates a basket handle when each end is pressed into one side of the cake.