Easter Lamb Cake
I always thought the Easter lamb cake, or cake shaped liked a lamb, was just a Polish and Eastern European Easter tradition. Until I saw them in Sicilian bakeries in Brooklyn. Then I thought they were also a Sicilian tradition. In my twenties, I spent one Easter weekend with my friend Stephanie and her family in Brooklyn. We colored eggs and her mom made delicious stuffed artichokes. Her aunt made a lamb cake. An Easter lamb cake was not a tradition on either side of my family. However, recently, an older relative of mine told me that lamb cakes are a tradition in the Benevento area of Italy and that people in my family did make them. So I tackled one this year. I used this Renalde lamb cake from Midcentury Menu for the cake part, although I used regular flour and more baking powder. For an Italian twist, you can add almond extract, or lemon or orange zest. This recipe made enough for one lamb cake and a dozen cupcakes. For the frosting, I used a marshmallow fluff frosting, but you can use any kind. This is a really delicious cake and frosting!
Easter Lamb Cake
For the cake:
a cake pan shaped like a lamb (mine is Nordic Ware spring lamb 3-D cake mold)
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 cup milk
3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
almond extract (optional), lemon zest (optional) or orange zest (optional)
For the frosting:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 cups butter
14 oz. marshmallow fluff
2 teaspoons vanilla
currants or raisins
green food coloring
Cream butter and sugar. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating each time. Add vanilla and almond extract or one of the zests. Sift dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients and milk, alternately. With a mixer, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into batter.
Grease both halves of the cake pan generously with shortening. You want it to be greased well so the cake slips out easily. Flour the pans.
Fill the face side of the pan. Put toothpicks in a T shape across the ears and down the middle of the neck for stability. Push them down so they are in the batter.
Put the other cake pan on top (the vent should be on top). Place on a cookie sheet. Using kitchen string, tie the mold in place.
Bake in a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes. Lower heat to 350 degrees and bake for a half hour more. Let it cool on a rack before trying to open it.
When it’s cool, take the top pan off.
Use a butter knife and just lightly go around the edges to loosen it. It should pop right out. Use some of the frosting to create a base on your serving plate.
Sit the lamb on top of it. If there’s a little extra cake at the bottom seam, just slice it off so the bottom is even.
To make the frosting, just mix everything in a mixer. Frost the cake. I used a piping bag. When it comes to the neck, head and ears, I would frost gingerly here. The weight of the frosting may make the neck/head tip over a bit. Use currants or raisins for eyes and cut a pink jellybean in half for the nose.
In a bowl, mix coconut and green food coloring until it looks like grass. Spread it around the lamb. Tie a ribbon around the neck. (This helps to stabilize it too.)
You can cook the cupcakes separately about 20-22 minutes in a 350 degree oven and frost.