Baking & Dessert

By Rena Unger | April 26, 2011

Photo: Rena Unger

It’s undeniable that food is the source of life. In many ways there is nothing more important than the food we eat. Beyond actual food, the meal itself can be the source of our

emotional development, creating family bonds, fostering community and healthy social development. Sharing a simple meal with a loved one can transform and nourish us on all levels physical, emotional and spiritual. My favorite aspect of what I do is helping others come together in the kitchen in a meaningful way.

Hiyen and Yen mixing the Carrot Cake; Photo: Rena Unger

I am very fortunate to be able to volunteer with a program developed by Chef Dave Martin and 4good Productions at the Ronald McDonald House New York. Last February, this program launched with a fun Top Chef Season 1 Alumni cook off event between Dave Martin and Andrea Beaman. Dave and Andrea each led teams of little sous chefs from RMH-NY, who helped to make their signature Top Chef dishes. The event was a huge success for many reasons; most importantly it marked the unveiling of their new state-of-the-art family kitchens.

Joely, Antoinette & Ashlynn learning that decorating cakes can be a dirty job!

This past weekend I led a workshop on Easter morning making Bunny Cakes with the families of Ronald McDonald House New York. It’s always a humbling experience when I show up to teach and leave the experience feeling like I was the student. I know my amazing Sous Chefs Katelind Root and Megan Guertner felt the same. Cooking with kids is so important; here is what we learned from our experience Sunday morning:

*Kids REALLY want to help in the kitchen, to feel useful and confident in their ability to create
*Families and friends bond through the act of positive teamwork
*Cooking is an opportunity to be creative in a fun and delicious way
There is always something kids can help with in the kitchen, at any age or skill level
*Kids are curious about the ingredients when they are included and tend to be more adventurous about the foods they try if they are involved in the process of making it
There is a sense of accomplishment that is even more incredible when shared over cake!


Megan, Katelind, Leonidis, Chloe, Dora, Priscilla, Antoinette, Chef Rena & Jacinda present the final Bunny Cakes!

When I was 10 or so there was a recipe in the paper for a Bunny Cake with the diagram below. I remember making this each Easter with my family. I have since kept the tradition alive with friends and now with the families at the Ronald McDonald House New York. The Bunny Cakes we made are primarily comprised of whole foods, devoid of processed and chemically refined ingredients. Check out and enjoy the Banana Cake with Chocolate Ganache and Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting recipes below.

To make you own Bunny Cake, prepare 2 X 9 inch cakes. When cakes are cool, cut according to the diagram.

If you would like to support the Ronald McDonald House New York you can find more information here.

Eat well!

If you would like to reach out to Rena Unger personally please click here.

Bunny Cake Diagram

Banana Cake Recipe

Yield: 1 (9-inch) cake

1/2 cup honey
8 tbsp butter (room temperature)
2 eggs
3 ripe bananas
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp fine sea salt


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch cake pan.
  2. Cream butter and honey in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, until mixed well.
  3. Add bananas to the egg, honey and butter mixture until combined.
  4. In another bowl mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  5. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing just until the flour disappears.
  6. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour.
  7. Cool for 15 minutes and frost with Chocolate Ganache Frosting before serving.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting Recipe

Yield: 2 1/2 cups

13 oz chocolate chips
1 cup coconut milk


  1. Pour chocolate chips into a bowl.
  2. Bring coconut milk to a boil and pour over chocolate. Stir gently until chocolate is completely melted and glossy.
  3. Allow to cool and pulse with electric mixer until smooth and fluffy.

Carrot Cake Recipe

Yield: 1 (9-inch) cake

2 cups organic whole-wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp all spice
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups carrots, grated
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup walnuts
2 cups diced apples
3 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
1/2 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease 9-inch cake pan.
  2. Mix flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice and salt in a bowl.  Add carrot, raisins, walnuts & apple.
  3. in a separate bowl beat eggs, pumpkin puree, honey and vanilla.
  4. Combine the flour & egg mixtures and pour batter into cake pan.
  5. Bake until toothpick comes out clean, 30 minutes. Cool and frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

Yield: 2 1/2 cups

8 oz cream cheese
3/4 stick butter (6 tbsp)
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla


  1. Beat all ingredients together until combined and light and fluffy


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