Adventures in Cake – Easter 2013

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I am making it a tradition to make a cake in my lamb mold for Easter dinner. Some might call it an obsession, but I am going with tradition. My grandmother (my mom’s mother) made a lamb cake most years when I was a kid and I like continuing the tradition. I don’t remember Grandma ever talking about having any trouble baking her cake, or with it sticking to the pan. Not sure what that says about my cooking skills, but I’ll leave it to you to draw conclusions.

My mother did mention this year that she isn’t sure that the pan I have is the one Grandma had. She has a vague memory that Grandma had a cast iron pan, which has long disappeared. That might explain the problems I have getting my cake baked evenly – the pan I have is thin aluminum. Cast iron would heat more evenly than my pan does.

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But pans aside, I am still in search of the perfect cake recipe to bake in my lamb mold. I want the cake to have enough structure to stand up, but to still be moist. It is a fine line that I am trying to walk, and it is still a work in progress. I think the lamb shape works against me every year – baking it long enough to get the middle done dries out the edges. This year I used an eight-yolk cake from “Joy of Cooking.” I had yolks left over from making an angel food cake for my mom’s birthday (so many recipes, so little time to post them!). I have made the cake before as a regular layer cake and liked the results – moist, buttery and yellow from all the egg yolks.

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This year I also decided I didn’t want to bake the cake in the closed mold. I thought maybe the large diameter of the middle of the body was working against me. I baked the two halves separately and planned to glue them together with icing for the finished cake. I’m not sure it made a whole lot of difference. The ears, head and rear end all baked faster than the middle and were a little bit dry. If I weren’t worried about the sturdiness of the cake, I would soak the whole thing with sugar syrup to deal with the dryness, but I am afraid that might make the whole thing slump down onto the plate.

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I repeated last year’s grease job with melted shortening, though I must not have been as diligent with the shortening, as one ear and the head on the back half stuck in the pan.

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For a bit I thought I wasn’t going to get the back half of the lamb to come out of the pan at all. Better to lose the head than to have to dig the whole thing out in pieces, I guess.

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I was able to stick everything back together with icing. And the lamb survived the night intact, unlike last year. See last year’s results in the pictures below.

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The cake was fragrant with vanilla, the cream cheese icing was all I could wish for and everyone was impressed that it held together without the benefit of skewers.

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Somehow though, everyone will remember last year’s reattached head a lot longer than this year’s (relative) success. It’s funny how failures become family stories and successes are just tasty desserts.

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17 thoughts on “Adventures in Cake – Easter 2013

  1. Hi Sarah,
    Glad to read you and your family had a happy Easter. I commend you for not giving up on the lamb cake. (Although last year’s carrot cake and cream cheese frosting looked delicious!)
    Have you ever tried using a couple (greased) flower nails in the body part? Like Wilton does with a heating core? (I think that’s what they are called.) Supposed to help bake large layers evenly and might work here.

    • Hi Cherie! Good to hear from you. Hope you are doing well!

      Thanks for the idea. I thought of cake nails last night, just as I was going to sleep. I think I am going to get a couple and try them next time I use the mold – and I’m not going to wait until next Easter to try it! 🙂

  2. I hope you had a Happy Easter by the way your lamb is so cute .I’d like to know where did you get your lamb baking pans I have been for them for sometime but can’t find them.Thank you for sharing your recipes.

    • Mine is from my grandparent’s basement. 🙂 You might want to check ebay, Craigslist and garage sales. I just did a quick Google search, and Nordicware makes a pan that looks very similar to mine. It was about $18. I would love to have one that was heavier metal than mine is, but I honestly haven’t spent much time looking for one. Hope you have good luck finding one.

  3. Looks like a voodoo lamb. Good for you to keep on trying. You know where that lamb would have ended up at our house. Made your vanilla ice cream today along with scalloped potatoes. That’s a lot of cooking for my kitchen.

  4. Sarah,
    The lamb cake is still delicious, we are hoarding a small piece- I need to
    ration my sugar intake.
    I spoke to Linda last week and she said that she and Laura were enjoying
    your blog and to pass it on to you- I suggested that they respond directly
    maybe they will.
    See you soon,
    Love,
    Dad

    • Dad,

      You guys have such self-control! The cake called to me during the day. Thankfully it is gone now. I do so much better with no treats around the house.

      Linda did comment on the blog, last week. Good to hear from her.

      Talk to you soon!
      Love,
      Sarah

  5. for the release of pan i use the wilton spray ..that is a flower an oil type mix works great or you can use the one called joy it also works great an my cakes never stick in them an i use alot of wiltons pans ….the reg cooking sprays turns pans brown but wilton an joy do not

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