Making Easter Lamb Cake

Easter lamb cake Walk into any Italian bakery at Easter time and you will see lamb cakes, they’ve been a yearly tradition in many households since the late 194o’s and 50’s. They’re used as an eatable centerpiece for your Easter table or to give as a gift during the season.

I’ve always wanted to make my own Easter lamb cake but I never had the molds that I remembered from my childhood, plus I didn’t think I could ever pull it off anyway!

vintage lamb cake molds In comes my friend Janet who’s been making these cakes every Easter since 1947, she makes them for her family and also gives them away as gifts. So I asked her if I could hang out with her one day and watch/help her make one, and she kindly said yes.

I was especially excited because she had the vintage mold that I remembered as a child, it was well used and still in perfect working order. She told me all the ladies back in the 40’s and 50’s made lamb cakes and as a child her mother and grandmother taught her how to make them and to keep up the tradition.

vintage GH cook book She pulled out some older vintage recipes for making lamb cakes, like this one published in 1953 in a Good Housekeeping cake book.

lamb cake recipe Over the years Janet has perfected her own recipe for lamb cake which is a nice sturdy sour cream pound cake flavored with vanilla and other extracts of your choice, we also added some rum to ours.

mixing cake batter Watching Janet whip up the batter was like watching a pro in action, I swear she could do this in her sleep!

greased and floured lamb cake mold I was in charge of buttering and flouring the mold, she instructed me to get into every nook and cranny, using my clean fingers to get in there. She stressed how important it was so as not to have your cake stick.  She said I did good!

filling lamb cake mold with batter Janet recommends placing your mold on a baking sheet for easy in and out of the oven. Pour your batter only in one side of the mold, always the face side down, never fill both sides of the mold, never, and make sure you don’t fill past the rim, you’ll have problems when you release it.  Another tip she had was to take a spoon and carefully place batter into the ears, face and neck, if it sinks down add a little add more, none of those areas should be lacking any batter.

Janet also likes to reinforce the ears by adding a toothpick in each, the ears are tiny and you don’t want them to break off, some people put a toothpick or skewer in the neck also, but she never had a problem with it.  Make sure your edges are all clean, take a paper towel to wipe them off. Now attach the empty back of the mold and you’re ready to bake!

baking a lamb cake Janet told me not to worry if you see the mold spit open a little towards the end of the baking time, it’s normal as the cake rises inside. She even stood it upright and baked it like that for the last few minutes.

Easter lamb cake If you’re going to frost it right away the cake has to be completely cooled down, do it in the standing position after you get it out of the mold, so have a cup of coffee like we did and be patient!

If you want to bake your lambs ahead of time feel free to freeze them at this point, before you decorate them, just make sure they’re cooled down and wrapped well for the freezer.

 

mixing frosting Now the fun part begins, it’s time to decorate the little lamby! Janet whipped up the frosting in no time as she was telling me in disgust just how terrible store bought frosting is and why people just don’t make there own because it’s so easy. I totally agree!

Her frosting consisted of 1 stick of unsalted butter, powdered sugar, half and half and vanilla, no recipe, just until you get the right texture, you’ll know, she said.

decorating an Easter lamb cake You can decorate your lamb anyway you want to, be creative!

applying coconut on a lamb cakeTake your frosting and cover the lamb completely with it, all over, except where your eyes and nose will be placed. You don’t have to be perfect because the flaked coconut sticks very well and will cover any flaws. Remember, no coconut on the eye nose area.

decorating an Easter lamb cake The eyes where made with 2 plumped up raisins that she squished down to form an oval shape. To prepare the nose she dabbed a little red food coloring on the tip and then placed half of a maraschino cherry on top.

decorating an Easter lamb cake Tie a pretty ribbon of your choice around the neck, Janet said she use to put tiny bells on the ribbon but can’t find them so much anymore.

decorating an Easter lamb cake We used paper grass to place all around the lamb to finish it off, Janet doesn’t like using the other kind because it flies around too much. Add eggs and jellybeans for additional color and whimsey all around.

Easter lamb cake Thank you Janet for a fun day of baking, I feel like a pro now and have the confidence to make my own so much so that when I got home I went on Ebay, saw a vintage lamb mold and put a bid on it, wish me luck!

For those of you who would like to try this on your own, here’s a mold similar to the one I used. A perfect addition to your Easter table!

Making Easter Lamb Cake

Ingredients

  • FOR CAKE
  • 3 cups flour, sifted
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, large
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons rum extract, optional
  • FOR THE FROSTING
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 heaping teaspoon vanilla
  • powdered sugar and half and half or milk to make the right consistency
  • FOR DECORATING
  • 1 bag of flaked coconut
  • 2 raisins
  • 1 maraschino cherry
  • red food color
  • piece of ribbon
  • paper Easter basket grass
  • assorted jellybeans

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. generously butter and flour lamb mold.
  2. Beat butter, add sugar and extracts and beat until light and fluffy.
  3. Add flour with baking soda until well incorporated.
  4. Beat in eggs one at a time alternating with the sour cream until batter comes together.
  5. Pour batter into prepared face side of the lamb mold, facing down on a baking sheet.
  6. Fill to the rim wiping up the edges clean.
  7. Reinforce the ears by placing a toothpick horizontally in each ear.
  8. Carefully place lid on and bake for 1 hour, but check for doneness 10 minutes before.
  9. FYI, you will have leftover batter with this recipe, enough to make a small cake.
  10. For Decorating, make the frosting with the butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, half and half and a pinch of salt, mixing until you get a nice semi firm frosting.
  11. Add raisins for eyes, a cherry for nose and tie a ribbon around the neck.
  12. Cover platter with Easter grass and jellybeans.
http://www.prouditaliancook.com/2014/04/making-easter-lamb-cake.html

 

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Comments

  1. This is adorable, Marie! How nice to spend the afternoon making this cute cake with your friend. I believe Nordic Ware still sells the same lamb mold. I’ve seen it on different sources this year. I already own too many Nordic Ware mold cake pans to buy another one–I have the stand up bunny cake pan that Williams Sonoma is selling again this year –it is also a 3D mold.

  2. My mother-in-law used to make this cake. We could not wait to cut into it. She did not want anyone around when she baked because we distracted her and she would forget an ingredient. We learned to stay clear when she was baking. I love that you got to cook with your friend. I think it is wonderful.

  3. Oh how cute is that lamb-y? I haven’t made one of these in at least three or four years and now you have me thinking I’ll do one for Easter this year for sure. My mom always made these at Easter and it’s especially sweet if you have young children around. Your step by step photos are really helpful to anyone who’s never made one of these Marie. Between your Easter lamb and Domenica’s ricotta crostata, I think I’ll have a lot of sweet offerings on the Easter table.

  4. Carolyn says:

    Oh my God, you’ve made me so happy! I have my Grandma’s lamb and bunny molds in a place of honor in my kitchen but they’re there for decorative purposes only because my experiments to recreate her cakes were disasters. Now I know what we’re having for Easter dessert. I could just cry. I will think of you and Nonna Vera when I bake these cakes. Thank you so much.

  5. My mom made this every year at Easter. When i was little, I would cry when someone ate the head. The pans are long gone, but it would be fun to bake one again.

  6. Oh, how sweet. I have never made a lamb cake, but I sure have admired them for ages. I remember having them when I was a little. Thanks for the sweet memories. I bet you had a ball with this one!

  7. I remember the Easter Lamb cake as the centerpiece for my Italian grandma’s Easter table. I found a mold years ago in a thrift shop and it’s been my annual tradition to make this cake for Easter ever since. Instead of using fake grass, I add a couple drops of green food coloring to some coconut, mix until colored as desired, and place around base of lamb. More coconut is yummy and the jelly beans are placed on the “grass”. Sometimes I place edible flowers such as pansies or violas on the grass. My adult kids and friends always look for the lamb…and so the tradition continues.

  8. Marie, I love this post!! I’ve been wanting to make a Lamb Cake for Easter the last couple years, but had read mixed reviews about the pan and the process of making this 3-D cake. Can you give me a tip on where to find this particular pan? I’d love to try it out this year!

  9. Oh…….sorry, Marie. I just realized you put a link in the post. I was just so excited!!

  10. Oh when we were cleaning out my parent house I got to go through the recipe drawers and I found that cookbook! I gave it to one of my nieces. My mom made that cake quiet often. Thanks for the wonderful memories!

  11. What a fun tutorial post to read, Marie! I do remember these cakes, from my childhood. Though, I never got to try one. They really are adorable. I hope you got the mold on eBay, though the one on Amazon looks pretty close. Good luck in recreating it. I’m sure you’ll do just fine.

  12. Although we are not Italian (we are 100% Irish) my mother’s family has been making these cakes since the 50’s and now it is my tradition to continue. I have their vintage molds and my sister and I recreate it each year. We always called our cake the “Lamb of God” cake and look forward to it every year. It makes a think of our Nana. Thanks for the great recipe.

  13. Hi! Love your blog! Do you have an Easter Grain Pie recipe that you can share?

    • Renee, my family never made those we just made a sweet ricotta pie minus the grain, the recipe is on my blog.

  14. Adorable!

  15. What a wonderful post! I grew up in a very Italian family – but my Nonna never made this cake. I know I would have LOVED it! This Easter, I’m going to try to make one for my God-Daughters! If all goes well…. I have a feeling this will start a new tradition (that my Nonna would have been proud of!). Thanks so much for this! xoxo

  16. My grandmother used to make these every Pascha/Easter. I have been carrying on the tradition with my children. I mix green food coloring with coconut flakes for the grass. I also use jelly beans for the eyes and nose. They’re a big hit every year! Adorable.

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  1. […] made this cake but it sure brought back lots of wonderful memories when my fried Marie at Proud Italian Cook  made it and wrote a post about it.   The pastel marshmallow eggs weren’t a favorite but […]

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