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Kitchen Mailbox Countdown to Dinner Dining
Kitchen Mailbox: Lamb cakes make decorative Easter dessert

Thursday, April 05, 2001

Compiled by Arlene Burnett

Lamb cake for dessert? It is today in Kitchen Mailbox.

Cooking term
of the week

En papillote -- A cooking method where food is wrapped in parchment paper or foil so that the food cooks in its own moisture.


Jeanne Jorkasky of Dunbar requested a recipe for an Easter cake made in the shape of a lamb. This is done with a cake mold that comes in two pieces --the bottom mold creates the back of the lamb, the top makes the lamb's front. The batter in the bottom pan rises to fill the top pan, including the lamb's face.The two-piece mold, which costs $10.99, includes instructions for baking and decorating the lamb.

One problem with lamb cake recipes is that the size of the molds vary. In fact, one recipe made 7 cups of batter, though the largest mold we located needed only 6 cups.

Some old recipes were designed for molds made of cast iron; many of today's recipes are made in aluminum pans, which changes the baking time.

We received a variety of recipes for the cake. Three cakes are made from scratch and two from packaged cake mixes (the ones we tested are made with yellow or white batter, but if you prefer chocolate go for it -- there are black lambs).

Each cake had its own flavor and texture. For instance, the first cake is made with buttermilk, but it's the delicious scent and taste of vanilla that gives this cake its flavor. The recipe calls for baking the cake 25 minutes and turning the pan over to bake another 25 minutes or so -- this did not work for us. When we turned the cake over, the unbaked batter sunk into the already baked batter. When we tried again, we didn't turn it over, and it turned out fine.

This recipe makes 6 cups of batter and yields two cakes (3 cups for each cake).

Here are a few general tips for all the recipes below:

Lamb cakes can be made with packaged or homemade cake batters. (Darrell Sapp, Post-Gazette)

Make sure you snap the pans in place. As a precaution, tie pans together with household string or wire (this will prevent the rising batter from forcing the pans apart).

Remove cakes from the oven and place on a wire rack. Leave the mold intact for about 5 minutes, then carefully remove the top of the mold, allow the cake to cool for about 25 minutes before you remove the cake from the bottom mold. Cool completely before frosting.

Though each recipe gives an approximate baking time, it's still a good idea to test the batter. Toothpicks didn't reach deep enough into the batter, so we used a wire skewer about 10 inches long and poked it through the steam vent.

When you grease and flour the pans make sure you get all the indentations. Sheri Jones of Ross uses a pastry brush -- good advice. Sprinkle about 2 to 3 tablespoons of flour inside each pan and shake so the flour covers the entire surface. Turn pan upside down, tap lightly to remove excess flour. Touch up any spots free of flour with more shortening.

Frost cakes with your favorite homemade icing or use the accompanying recipe. Readymade frosting works, too.

Our lamb cakes turned out perfectly -- protruding ears, button nose and round eyes. We used jelly beans for the eyes, nose and mouth and coconut for the lamb's body. Some co-workers thought our cakes resembled poodles more than lambs (maybe we should have left the face coconut-free).

The sky's the limit for decorating. Some suggestions from readers: raisins, jelly beans, cherries, citron and, of course, coconut. You could even tie a ribbon or bow around the lamb's neck.

Sugar and Spice, Route 51, and The Unique Boutique, Raceway Plaza, Heidelberg, are among the stores that carry the molds, but any cake and candy supply store may have them. We suggest calling before you go.

Dolores Yerecic of Murrysville and Gertrude Castaldo of Weirton, W.V., sent in this recipe.

Buttermilk Easter Lamb Cakes

1 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups buttermilk plus 1 teaspoon baking soda (we stirred a few times to combine)
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream the shortening and sugar; add eggs. Combine shortening mixture alternately with flour and milk. Add vanilla, mix until combined. Grease and flour mold. Pour batter into the back mold (the section without a steam vent). Place front mold over back mold, making sure it snaps into place. Place mold on a cookie sheet (the lamb's facial features should be looking up). Bake about 45 minutes until tested done.

Makes two cakes.

Lamb Cake Frosting was sent by Gertrude Castaldo of Weirton, W.Va.

Lamb Cake Frosting

1 cup milk
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar

In a medium pot, heat the milk: add flour (we used a wire whisk). Cook until thick, about 10 minutes. Remove from stove and cool completely.

Combine sugar and shortening. Beat until creamy. Combine cooled milk and flour mixture to shortening mixture; beat again until light and fluffy.

Recipe makes enough frosting for two cakes.

Sheri Jones of Ross sent this recipe. One thing is for certain: you seldom go wrong with a cake made with cake flour. This recipe worked well for us -- full, moist and light.

Easter Lamb Cake

2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 large egg whites

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Sift the flour before measuring, then resift with salt.

In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter until fluffy.

Combine the milk and vanilla in a small bowl.

Add the sifted ingredients to the butter mixture in three parts, alternating with thirds of the liquid combination. Stir the batter until smooth after each addition.

Whip egg whites until stiff, but not dry. Fold eggs lightly into batter.

Grease (a pastry brush works well) and flour the lamb mold. If the mold has steam vents, fill the solid section with the batter, to just below the joint. Move a wooden spoon gently through the batter to release any air bubbles. Put the lid on the mold, making sure it locks, and tie or wire together so the steam of the rising dough will not force the two sections apart.

Place filled mold on a cookie sheet and bake for about 1 hour, or until it tests done. Remove from oven and place on a rack for about 15 minutes. Remove top of mold. Cool another 5 minutes. Remove cake and cool on rack. Do not let cake sit upright until it's completely cool.

Frost. Gently press shredded coconut onto the icing. Use raisins, nuts, cherries or citron for the facial features.

Note: This cake calls for a 7- cup mold, but we could find only a 6-cup mold. We filled the cake pan to the rim and had about 1/4 cup of batter left over.

Here's a recipe from Elizabeth Kocheran of Duquesne. The addition of Dream Whip to the packaged mix gave this cake a lighter batter.

Lamb Cake

1 yellow batter cake mix
1 package Dream Whip (they come two to a box), undiluted
4 eggs
1 cup water

Mix all ingredients 4 minutes. Pour into the lamb mold. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until tested done. Makes two cakes.


Here's a request from Nancy Stevens of Spring Church, Armstrong County: "I would like to have the recipe for The Greenbrier's vanilla sauce that's served with bread pudding. This recipe is in The Greenbrier's special recipes cookbook."

Jack Armstrong of Caldwell, W. Va., writes: "Eliza's Restaurant in San Francisco has the best mango chicken, and I would kill to get the recipe. Here in West Virginia there is no such thing. Any help would be greatly appreciated. "

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