"Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us!"
Now, I can't tell you when this tradition began, but there are clay and cast iron molds out there that are HIGHLY sought after! (Some of these definitely date back to the late 1800's or farther, and have been passed down in families through the generations.) Now, in my case, I searched high and low for a lamb cake pan, (since our family didn't have one), and ended up purchasing a 1970's era pan on ebay. (I LOVE it- by the way!) The trick to making one is to use a pound cake batter, (it's a denser cake, and will hold the shape of the mold better), and to grease and flour your pan very well! There are many styles of the lamb cake. In this case, my husband really wanted chocolate cake, so I opted to cover the entire outside with buttercream frosting. But, if you made the traditional pound cake, you could simply dust with powdered sugar, or cover the entire lamb with a poured fondant to still be able to see the detail of the mold. Also, the "Flag of Victory" is optional, but mine was simply made with a skewer, and a rolled out jumbo marshmallow. Very simple, and I just used some food gel and shimmer dust to make the cross. Since marshmallows are sticky, it stuck nicely to the skewer, and held it's shape well. It also looks very much like an authentic banner! It is also a tradition to color shredded coconut green, (for the "grass" at the base of the lamb), and to add some Easter egg candies, or jelly beans- which symbolizes "new life". This pound cake recipe is very easy to make, and absolutely rich, moist, and delicious! Lamb cakes are also very cute for Baby showers, birthdays, etc.!
Yield: About 16-20 servings
Pound Cake Ingredients:
3 sticks of unsalted butter (room temp.)
1- 8oz. pkg. cream cheese (room temp.)
3 cups sugar
6 whole eggs
3 cups flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. Almond or Vanilla extract (or rum)
***optional: zest of 1 lemon or orange for citrus flavor
**For chocolate pound cake: add 1/2 c. dark cocoa powder & only 2 1/2 c. flour (3 cups total)
Lamb Cake mold (2 pieces)
For finishing: 2-4 cans of purchased vanilla or cream cheese frosting, homemade buttercream, poured fondant, powdered sugar, a couple raisins, cloves, m&m's, black & pink (or red) colored frosting, small star tip, pastry bag, etc.
Flag of victory: 1 bamboo skewer, 1 jumbo marshmallow, red gel coloring, paint brush (used for cake dec. only)
Coconut base: 1/2 bag of shredded coconut, green gel coloring, jelly beans or egg candies.
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease & flour the pans VERY WELL!! (Make sure to get into all of the crevices.)
1) Cream the butter and cream cheese together well. Add the sugar. When mixture is nice and fluffy & there are no lumps, add the eggs slowly, mixing well between additions. Slowly add in the flour, (and cocoa for chocolate), and baking powder. Add extract at end. Divide the batter between the 2 pans, and spread all the way to the top! (You may have excess batter- simply bake some cupcakes, or a small loaf with remainder.)
Note: some pans are different. Some pans are meant to be baked with the 2 halves assembled prior to placing in oven- so it bakes as a whole lamb. (Only one half of the lamb pans would be filled to the top, the empty half placed on top, then the pans would be clipped or tied together with kitchen string in place when baking.)
In my case, I baked the 2 separate, and assembled them with frosting when finishing. (See the pic below!) Only bake the 2 halves separately if you plan on finishing by decorating the entire cake with frosting!
2) Bake the cakes at 350F for 45-60min. You should check on your cakes after 40min., and test with a toothpick for doneness. Remove the cakes from the oven when done, and allow to cool for about 15min. before attempting to flip out. (You don't want the cake to be completely cooled before removing from the pan, as they may stick in some spots!)
3) When the cake is completely cooled, trim any excess from the base, (so it stands up flat!), edges, or level off the cake on both halves to fill with frosting, and push together. Finish by frosting the entire lamb with a cream cheese or vanilla frosting, or using a poured fondant. (Or, if you had a pan that was baked with both pieces together, you can simply finish by dusting the whole lamb with powdered sugar.)
For the eyes and nose, you could use raisins, cloves, m&m's, frosting, etc.! The ribbon around the neck is optional, but I used red colored buttercream & a small rose tip. You could also use real ribbon if you wish, and simply remove when slicing.
4) Coconut base: simply place 1/2 bag of shredded coconut in a large ziploc bag, with some green gel or food coloring. Seal the bag and massage or shake the coconut well to incorporate the color. Smear or pipe some frosting around the base of your lamb cake, sprinkle the coconut over and press so that it sticks to your platter or board. Press in some egg candies or jelly beans around the base.
5) If making the "Flag of Victory", simply use a dowel to roll out 1 jumbo marshmallow on a powdered sugar surface- as thin as you can make it without tearing. Snip the base to look like the pic below. Wrap one side around the skewer, and press together if necessary so that it sticks. Paint the cross on with the red gel, and highlight with gold shimmer dust if you wish! Simply stick the skewer into the lamb cake at the very end- prior to serving or placing on your holiday table.