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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.