Easter in our house is a holiday filled with traditions. When I was little it meant my grandmother would make a lamb cake with coconut fur and jelly bean eyes. My sisters and I would get new dresses, patent leather Mary Janes and anklets. of course we also had gloves and Easter Bonnets. And then, on Easter morning after church and locating the Easter baskets, we would have the traditional family egg fight. Somehow it seemed like my Dad always won; I think it was because he made us hit the pointy end of his egg with the round end of ours!
Raising my own family I kept those traditions alive. My daughter Sam always had a new dress, Mary Janes and a hat; we omitted the gloves. Sean always had a new sport coat and tie. We died eggs and hid baskets for the kids; they delighted in hiding their father’s where he would hardly ever find it. We had egg fights on Easter morning. My children were very little when my grandmother passed away so I took over the lamb cake tradition and 35 years later I’m still doing it. Along with the egg fights and easter baskets.
Today I made the Lamb Cake. Until recently I used one of those rather thin aluminum two piece cake molds. Several years ago I found a bakery quality mold at an estate sale. It is also a two piece mold but is of a much heavier construction. The result is a cake that bakes evenly and releases much more readily. And, most importantly, since I have switched to the heavier mold the ears stay attached to the head when I remove the cake from the mold. When I used the thinner mold the ears would separate from the head as the cake released and I would have to hold them on to the head with toothpicks and frosting.
The cake itself is a simple pound cake batter - and yes, I use a mix. I frost it with a buttercream frosting and then swirl the frosting to give it the appearance of lambs wool. Neither George nor I like coconut so the swirling of the frosting is an appropriate substitute for the coconut my grandmother used. I use black jelly beans for the eyes and the nose. In the past I’ve used purple jelly beans for the eyes but the lamb looked a bit psycho so it was back to black. I tie a spring-colored ribbon around the neck and the lamb is finished. My gran used to put green dyed coconut around the lamb to simulate grass. I pipe green frosting around the base of the lamb for the same effect.
There is always too much batter for the mold. One year I tried to put all of the batter into the mold and had a real mess when the baking cake overflowed the mold and baked unto the floor of the oven. Not being a total idiot, I learned from my mistake and have used less batter ever since. But I don’t like to waste things so I looked for ways to use up the extra batter. For awhile I made cupcakes that I gave away to neighbors and friends. Now that I run the B&B I make egg cakes for guests.
I simply pour the extra batter into small cake tins – the ones you use for individual cakes or meatloafs. they take about 30 minutes to bake. After they cool I cut the oblong cakes into egg shapes. I have to admit I do this freehand and am not the best at it. But it ‘s the thought – right?
I frost the cake with same buttercream and pipe a design around the outline of the cake. then the top gets decorated with jelly beans. I will present the cake tomorrow morning at breakfast and then will wrap it up for them to take home. Looking at the picture I realize I should have used a colored plate. All that white! Live and learn. Our guests also get a small easter basket at their place on the table with a personalized hard-boiled egg, jelly beans and a chocolate egg. They can eat candy for breakfast – I’m not their mother!
I’ve always loved the holiday traditions – now I get to share them with my guests!