There are many theme days for food bloggers. Most are tied to alliteration. There are Meatless Mondays, Wordless Wednesdays and Farmer Fridays. Those are just the ones that pop right into my mind. But, what is a grandmother to do when there is no weekday that begins with the letter “B” so that she can have a Bragday? You know — something like Bragday Bonday? Or Bragging Briday? In this case, the only thing to do is make my own brag day. From now on, if ever I need to brag, it will take place on Mimi’s (Bragday) Monday.
You see, the only thing I ever brag about is my four grandchildren. They call me Mimi. So, on Mimi’s (Bragday) Monday, I will be hooting and hollering and whooping and whooting about my four very intelligent, beautiful grandchildren. Only when I can relate it to food. It won’t happen every Monday. My granchildren live a few hours away from me. I don’t see them every week.
I’ll start things off with the lamb cake that has been part or our family Easter for generations. My paternal grandmother made a thick pound cake batter that she baked in a cast iron lamb mold. I wish I knew more about the history of this particular mold, but my grandma died when I was in kindergarten. Where the mold came from didn’t matter much to me at that time. Since my dad’s only sibling already had her own lamb mold, my mom took over the care and use of my grandma’s very heavy lamb cake mold.
My mom made the cake a few days before each Easter Sunday. When she was working out of the home full-time, she would often use a pound cake mix from the store, keeping my grandma’s pound cake recipe safely tucked into her recipe collection. Once the lamb was baked and carefully removed from the mold, it would cool on a wire rack. As the lamb cooled, the cake became firmer and wasn’t quite so fragile.
Fluffy white frosting was slathered over the cake, with careful attention going to the ears, the face and the underside of the chin. Sometimes my mom needed to stick a piece of toothpick into the ears to hold them in place. Flaked coconut was pressed over the frosting to make the lamb look fluffy. Currants for the eyes. A piece of jelly bean for the nose. A bell tied around its neck. As a child, I loved turning coconut into grass by shaking the coconut in a jar with green food coloring. Coconut grass surrounded the base of the lamb cake as it sat on a platter. A few jelly bean “Easter eggs” were arranged on the grass. The little lamb cake sat in the center of our dining room table until, finally, we were able to eat it for dessert on Easter Sunday.
In May, it will be 16 years since my mom died. My dad died before that. I didn’t think there was any need to ask about the history of our family’s lamb cake and the mold used for baking. There would always be next Easter to take the time to learn more about the tradition we carried on from my dad’s Czechoslovakian side of the family.
This year, my nine-year-old granddaughter, Emily was the first to notice I forgot the jelly bean “Easter eggs.” The placing of the jelly beans was in her hands this year. Then, of course we had to take a picture. With my daughter-in-law as the assistant, we tried to get all four children to look at me at the same time. Whew, that’s a challenge. When it came time to eat the cake, Emily had first bid on the hind end — that’s the piece with the most frosting. Six-year-old Madison decided on the head. Half of it, anyway. We removed the toothpick from the lamb’s ear, first. Tanner was more interested in the cupcakes he had frosted and decorated. Claire isn’t much into sweets (whose grandchild is she???) The rest of us were in lamb cake heaven as we savored each bite of a thick once-a-year slice of lamb cake.
This year our Easter Lamb Cake took a long ride in the car to get to Easter dinner at the home of our son and daughter-in-law. I held my breath as we rode through each curve and turn and for each stop the car made. The cake made it, all in one piece.
The lamb cake tradition continues. That’s what holidays and baking are all about, aren’t they? Traditions. Family traditions.
I’m sharing my grandma’s recipe for the pound cake she used in the lamb mold. It’s not the one I use these days. But, this is the one that was baked in the mold for many years. You may also be interested in the Butter Rum Pound Cake recipe I shared on this blog a few years ago. Click here to go right to that post.
I’m finished bragging for today. Thanks for reading. I promise — only on Mondays. Not every Monday. Just some Mondays.
Grandma Erhart’s Pound Cake for Lamb Mold
- 1 pound sifted cake flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon mace
- 1 pound butter
- 1 pound sugar
- 1 pound eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sift flour, salt and mace together and set aside. Cream butter thoroughly. Add sugar gradually and continue to cream until mixture is light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and almond extracts and blend. Add sifted dry ingredients gradually, beating until smooth after each addition.
To prepare mold, place it nose down on baking sheet. Grease well with soft shortening (not melted). Dust inside with flour. Repeat with other half of mold. Pour batter into nose side of mold so that it is mounded on top. Cover with other half of prepared mold and screw together. Place on cookie sheet and bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. Turn mold over and bake for 15 minutes on other side. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes.
Remove cake from form. Let cool. Frost with your favorite butter frosting and sprinkle with coconut. Cherry for nose. Currants for eyes. Red ribbon and bell on neck.
If you have leftover pound cake batter, bake it in cupcake tins. Amount of baking time will depend on size.