Friday 15 April 2022

Vegan burrowing Bunny Cupcakes activity for Easter

There's always plenty of food involved in Easter.  The kids love the Easter egg hunt in the garden and then there are the hundreds of hot cross buns consumed (one of Anthony's favourite snacks that are thankfully available all year round).  This year we're re-inventing our burrowing bunny cupcakes that help with their spatial reasoning, motor skills development as a vegan treat with Oreos to boot. 

One of the challenges for our kids is spacial reasoning. This is our ability to think spatially and mentally rearrange objects. It's an important skill for us all  – we use it daily to orientate ourselves in the world and can be challenging for autistic kids like ours.  We've made our burrowing bunny cupcakes before and teaching the same thing over and over is part of what they need to learn.  So we got the kids minds working with this vegan baking activity that also expands their diet into more vegan options.  Baking also has the great advantage of having plenty of motor skills, literacy and maths thrown in too.

Before making the cakes, we got the kids on a quest to be bunnies burrowing into the ground.  We had them crawl off the edge of the sofa and stairs and really think about how a bunny would look if they saw it disappearing into a rabbit hole.  Get Alice in Wonderland out if all else fails for you! This all works really well for our family which includes two autistic boys and a very eager baker in our daughter, Jane. 

We decided our brown bunny would have it's bum up (yes, the kids thought this was hilarious, apart from David, who didn't really understand but was so cute in saying 'bum' a few times), it's bunny paws or toes up and most importantly it's big fluffy white tail.

Now, these cupcakes are no work of art, but we had a great time pretending to be bunnies and making it - surely that's what counts.

To make our vegan burrowing bunny cupcakes we used a recipe from The Little Book of Vegan Bakes by Holly Jade, creator of the Little Blog of Vegan, that my daughter picked up on her latest trip to the book shop.  We made brown bunnies but you could also make white ones too. 

To do her recipe and make 8-10 of our Vegan Burrowing Bunnies Cupcakes you will need:
  • Cupcakes:
    • 240ml 91 cup) dairy-free milk (we used coconut)
    • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
    • 210g (1 2/3 cups) self raising flour
    • 100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
    • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder (for brown bunnies) or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (for white bunnies)
    • 60 ml (1/4 cup) sunflower oil
  • Brown bunnies buttercream:
    • 120g (1/2 cup) diary free butter (we used plant brand)
    • 400g (3 1/3 cups) sifted icing sugar
    • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
    • Sash of dairy-free milk if needed (we used coconut)
  • White bunnies buttercream:
    • 120g (1/2 cup) diary free butter (we used plant brand)
    • 400g (3 1/3 cups) sifted icing sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • Sash of dairy-free milk if needed (we used coconut)
  • For bunny tail and feet:
    • Regular Oreos to make the bunnies tails
    • Strawberry Shortcake Oreos to make the bunnies feet and pads (or you can use pink sprinkles on white ones if you can't find the strawberry type)
  • Sprinkles for decoration
How we did it: 

  1. Firstly we made up our chocolate cake mix according to the recipe.  
    1. Preheat the oven to 180 put out the cupcake cases. Then in a small bowl whisk the milk and apple cider vinegar and set aside for 10minutes to make the vegan buttermilk. 
    2. Sift together the flour, caster sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa if making brown bunnies.
    3. Add the oil to the buttermilk and whisk well to combine - adults can help a bit with this bit.  Then mix the wet and dry ingredients together until they are smooth.
    4. Fill the cases 3/4 full with the batter and bake for about 20 minutes until done.
Cupcake cases

If you can get a spatula to scrape the bowls this is another great way of getting the kids to think about using their hands.  It can be really tricky to understand how to move a spatula round a bowl to get all the cake mix out - practice definitely helps!

Both, pouring and mixing are great motor skills for developing kids. Bilateral motor skills (coordinating different sides of the body together) are used when holding the bowl and mixing and pouring too.

When done they should have popped up a bit and be bouncy, not wet, in the middle.  This is great because it is quick and the kids aren't waiting too long.  Once they were ready, we brought them out and left to cool.  If this is hard for your little ones, they can hold a 'wait' button or set a timer so they can wait without worrying as much.  I also find covering or cooling them out of sight is helpful.

Once the cupcake) are cooled then you can make into your bunny bums (he he).

2.  Made up our vegan chocolate butter cream using the same recipe book.
    1. In a stand mixer (we have this type from Kitchen Aid) cream the butter using the balloon whisk.
    2. Once creamy add the icing sugar and either the cocoa powder for brown bunnies or the vanilla extract for white ones.  We thought you could add a drop of food colouring to the vanilla one if you wanted for example pink bunnies ;-)
    3. Whizz together until creamy and add a dash of dairy free milk if a bit too thick. 
3.  Add the buttercream to the cupcake.  We used a fork to create the bunny fur look.

4. We added our bunny paws.  We split apart the Strawberry shortcake Oreo cookies and thought of each one being an upside down bunny paw with the pink filling as the paw pads.  We carefully pulled off some of the filling with a spoon to make paw shapes and pushed the other side into the side of our cupcake/frosting and repeat on the other side.

5.  Lastly we added the bunny tail.  We simply opened up a regular Oreo and used the bigger white filled side as our bunny tails. And voila, our burrowing bunny cupcakes are finished.

We also added sprinkles to the plate our boys were eating from so it looked like the bunnies where burrowing into rainbow sprinkles.  Then it was time to dig in (ha ha, no pun intended) so we thought about what bunnies might eat too.  This meant we also put out some carrot sticks and fruit which were also munched down - always a bonus!

If you'd like to read more about motor skills or reasoning activities and - you may like some of these:

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