We are all adjusting to a different type of Easter long weekend this year so it’s totally okay to try new things or just do very little. To try and boost myself and my mood I thought, let’s do some vintage baking. We’ve done a few vintage recipes already (for Halloween and Valentines Day) and not everything has gone smoothly but it doesn’t matter, it’s all about light-hearted fun here. I dove a little into my cultural roots for this post and decided to make a vintage Easter Lamb Cake. No, it’s not an actual lamb it’s only shaped like a lamb. To be fair when I first heard of it as a kid I also thought it was made from an actual lamb so you can imagine my surprise when I was handed a slice of delicious cake instead. Yum!
Brooch worn in video is from Daisy Jean Floral.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that Easter Lamb cakes mainly were made in Europe as I remember a lot of Italian and Eastern European grandmother friends creating them but I don’t ever remember an Aussie or American family making them. Being Polish, I always remember them being called baranek wielkanocny which translates to Easter Lamb. Of course, it’s just a cake and can be made by whoever regardless of background but from my research, these cakes reached the height of popularity in the ’40s and ’50s. I’m hoping to create my lamb cake, not make it look demonic so I can put it on the table as a sort of centrepiece. The thought of taking it to the family on Easter crossed my mind but then I remembered the last time I tried to bake a vintage recipe so maybe not. If you’re interested in baking your own, you may be wondering where to get the cake pan from, I found a couple on Amazon and chose the style with the closest match to the original images. It’s got quite a funny face on it so the likelihood of it coming out looking dishevelled is very high. Aprons on!
When baking a 3D cake such as this one, using a normal cake mix may not be strong enough to support the weight and shape of the mould so a pound cake is highly recommended. The recipe I used came from The Polish Housewife as it was the main one I found which didn’t call for a prepacked mix of pound cake. Pound cake isn’t easy to find in Australian grocery stores so I made the cake from scratch and found it pretty easy to do so. Also, the recipe was labelled ‘No-Fail’ so I had to test out that theory.
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1 teaspoon vinegar and enough milk to make 1/2 cup)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- butter and breadcrumbs to prepare panfor the frosting:
- 1 cup butter
- 6 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 – 5 tablespoons milk & more for glaze
I followed the steps according to The Polish Housewife and found them easy to follow. I have repeated them down here.
- Preheat oven to 180C
- Cream butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time
- Combine dry ingredients and add to batter alternating with buttermilk and vanilla
- Prepare pans by spreading lightly with butter and dusting with dried breadcrumbs
- Pour batter into the bottom of your two cake pans, assemble according to direction on your lamb cake mould
- Bake for approximately one hour
- Cool the cake for 10 minutes, remove from pan
- Cool to room temp
There’s really no right or wrong way to decorate your lamb cake. I remember a lot of frosting with coconut shreds but have also seen very plain lambs with just a sprinkling of icing sugar. (Check out this blog for some great decorating inspiration). I decided with my lamb, I was going to use liquid icing for the face to create smoothness and then finish off the lamb’s body with piping “wool” and then a cute little ribbon around the neck. I also found some cute pre-made flowers which I added for a bit more colour. Instead of colouring coconut shreds green to look like grass, I just used some Easter grass I already had.
For the mould itself, I used a Nordic Vintage Lamb Mould which I found on Amazon. I have on the rare occasion seen these original tins appear in vintage shops and flea markets but it’s nice knowing you can still get a vintage replica for only a few dollars. You can shop the tin mould I bought here.
-Put reinforcements into the lamb’s ears in the way of a toothpick as they can often break or crack off due to being so fragile. You can also put a reinforcement skewer into the lamb’s neck if you’re extra worried.
-When greasing the pan, get right into every nook and cranny! It may also be worth dusting the pan with a thin layer of flour, breadcrumbs or semolina as an extra layer of non-stick. You do not want to break your lamb.
-Leave at least a 1/4″ to 1/2″ rim around the top of your cake pan when filling it with batter. You don’t want to overfill the bottom layer as it’ll pour out and not set properly.
-It’s also best to put the front lamb pan down as the base and fill that with mixture first making sure batter fills every nook and cranny of the lambs head.
-If your pan isn’t very heavy (most modern ones aren’t, you may want to tie the two pans together when baking. Vintage pans were quite heavy so the cake mix happily flowed into the top lamb layer, today, the materials are lighter so the cake mix can just overflow. By tying them together, there should be no spillage.
-Keep your lamb in the oven for the longest recommended time. Most modern trays do not have a way of checking if the cake mix if fully cooked so by keeping it in the oven for the longest possible time, you ensure that the mixture is cooked. Some lamb trays do have vent holes so you can use those to check your cake.
-Wrap your lambs head in Aluminium foil. The foil will slow down the cooking process and as the head is the smallest part, you won’t overcook it too much.
-Let the lamb fully cool down. After you take it out of the oven, let it sit till its cool to the touch. Then take off the back pan, let it sit and cool before you finally take off the front pan.
OH MY GOSH, IT DIDN’T FALL APART! For those that have seen me attempt other vintage recipes, I was so shocked that my lamb held it together and didn’t lose it’s head or an ear. I think lining the pan with butter and flour was a huge help even if I got flour absolutely all over my kitchen in the process.
I had a lot of fun decorating the cake and was glad I used both glaze for the face and normal frosting for the body. I ended up using around three layers of glaze on the face and let each layer set for a little while before I added the next layer. I wanted as smooth of a surface as possible and didn’t want to see a lot of actual cake underneath. Although you could use things such as raisings, jellybeans or cloves for eyes and a mouth, I just used some black piping icing I already had and it worked fine. I didn’t want to add too much to the face as I know it’ll just end up looking like a sleep paralysis demon.
Now, the taste! I had to remember that the cake had supports inside it to help it stay together but in the end, the cake was absolutely delicious. It wasn’t ridiculously dry and had a good sweet flavour. I would love to add perhaps a pandan flavour when I try again next year (you bet I’m making this again!). My partner even liked it and he can get pretty fussy when it comes to cake. We even thought about making a chocolate lamb another year just to add a bit of variety; we then have the option of adding chocolate or vanilla wool! How cute!
Other ideas for your lamb pan: your lamb pan does not need to be restricted just for easter. You can use the body shape to create other animals such as a reindeer for Christmas (use pretzels or piped chocolate for the antlers), a super cute deer or by changing the ears, you can create a cat, dog or other similar creature. By baking an extra cake and carving it, you can add tails for perhaps a fox, horse or donkey. Have fun with it and don’t worry too much about it being perfect.
You can shop the tin mould I bought here.
Brooch is from Daisy Jean Floral.
Addition: As I loved making an Easter lamb cake so much, I decided to make one the following year in 2021 and it went horribly wrong. To see a baking fail of epic proportions, come see this blog post. Here’s a little preview (oh trust me, it get’s so much worse!).
Note: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions and thoughts expressed are solely my own and not influenced in any way.