New Recipe: Fluffy ‘Bunnie’ cake a crowd-pleaser for Easter

If you said Bunnie’s coconut cake, you’d be right on. For decades, the Canadian Honker has been serving up generous slices to literally millions of customers — not just locals, but people from around the world. With its moist texture and fluffy coconut-topped frosting, plus the name “Bunnie” in it, I’d say it might make a memorable dessert for Easter. (I might even replace the maraschino cherry that sits on top with mini jellybeans.)

Matie Powers, a manager at Canadian Honker, puts the finishing touches on Bunnie’s Coconut Cake, her grandmother’s famous cake, on Thursday, March 25, 2021, at Canadian Honker Restaurant in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)

Matie Powers, a manager at Canadian Honker, puts the finishing touches on Bunnie’s Coconut Cake, her grandmother’s famous cake, on Thursday, March 25, 2021, at Canadian Honker Restaurant in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)

The cake itself is synonymous with the restaurant. You say Canadian Honker, and very likely Bunnie’s coconut cake comes to mind — at least it does for me. Though I’m not much of a sweets eater, I do make room for this.

Originally, it almost didn’t make it on to the menu. As the place was about to open in 1984, Jim Powers, father of owner Joe, insisted that Bunnie’s coconut cake needed to be added to the menu. “No way, the menu is set and printed,” said Joe, who was just 21 at the time. The rest is history: Joe lost, the cake won. It’s been a huge favorite ever since.

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Bunnie's Coconut Cake is pictured on Thursday, March 25, 2021, at Canadian Honker Restaurant in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)

Bunnie’s Coconut Cake is pictured on Thursday, March 25, 2021, at Canadian Honker Restaurant in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)

The provenance of the recipe has been questioned, but with a little digging, I read that Jim Powers, an X-ray technician at Mayo, brought the recipe to wife Bunnie from a co-worker. Being an excellent cook and baker, she baked it for her family, making modifications along the way. They all loved it so much, it only made sense to share it with the rest of the world when the restaurant opened.

How the cake makes it on to your plate is impressive. Three bakers bake it every day at both the restaurant and the Second Street catering location to keep up with demand. Numbers cited by Nick Powers, president of Powers Ventures and Bunnie’s grandson, show that over 30,000 slices are served a year, and more than 80 served a day just in the restaurant. That doesn’t count the ones that are carried home by customers.

It is also a favorite served at meetings around town, and at weddings. Then there are the sales of the sheet cakes. Powers expects over 200 will be sold this Easter week. Sizes range from 10-by-12-inch ($26.95) to half sheets ($39.95).

Have they ever offered it in a bunny shape for Easter?

“No, and we won’t. The traditional square of cake is how it needs to stay. It wouldn’t be the same otherwise,” Powers insists.

And the recipe, has it ever gotten out or been shared? There are recipes online purporting to be the original.

“Don’t bother,” he said. “They’re not even close. There are a lot of coconut cakes out there, but none like Bunnie’s.”

I can second that.

Matie Powers, a manager at Canadian Honker, holds a slice of Bunnie’s Coconut Cake, her grandmother’s famous cake, on Thursday, March 25, 2021, at Canadian Honker Restaurant in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)

Matie Powers, a manager at Canadian Honker, holds a slice of Bunnie’s Coconut Cake, her grandmother’s famous cake, on Thursday, March 25, 2021, at Canadian Honker Restaurant in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)

If you want to order for Easter, it’s a good idea to do that soon. Call the restaurant at 507-282-6572.

Post Bulletin food writer Holly Ebel knows what’s cookin’. Send comments or story tips to life@postbulletin.com.



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