Welcome to the Eight Days of Lamb Cakes! And no, this is not an April Fool’s joke. I really am going to be posting a lamb cake a day from now until Easter. Tom and I did a ton of baking, testing and note-making, and now you guys get to reap the benefits!
As with everything we make on the Menu, I am going to be posting the lamb cakes that turned out along with the ones that didn’t turn out so well. The recipes we tested were not altered by us in any way, and were prepared according the the directions provided with no substitutions so we could judge each recipe fairly on its own merit.
Also, these recipes are scaled to fit a vintage lamb cake pan. Modern lamb cake pans are much larger, and more cake batter will be needed. Please see my tips on making a vintage lamb cake before you attempt one of these recipes.
So let’s get started!
Here is tested lamb cake #1 which was submitted by Trish S. Trish writes:
Hi Ruth. I just read the article in the Wall St Journal and the last paragraph about your lamb cakes prompted me to send this along.
My 84 yr old mother has been making all her children and now her grandchildren each a Lamb cake at Easter time every year. This from the same type of mold I see on your website. This was originally her mother’s (my grandmother’s) mold and recipe.
It has never failed to produce a wonderful cake, although my mom remembers a few times when her hand was a little heavy with the frosting, tipping off the head!
Good luck !
I also chose a vintage frosting I have been wanting to try: White Frosting from an 1968 issue of Mail Box News from Maid of Scandinavia. I have always been curious about this frosting recipe because it contains 2 tablespoons of uncooked flour.
I know! Crazy, right?
Trish’s recipe was an easy batter to make, but stuck to the pan slightly after it was baked (you can see the spots on the sides where the cake crust came off in the pan.) It was easy to handle after it was cooled.
Isn’t it cute?? I was very pleased with the way the frosting turned out. It was incredibly easy to work with. So much, in fact, that I was able to leave the coconut off the lamb and was able to easily make a fleecy look with the back of my knife by touching the smoothed frosting and then quickly pulling up. The eyes and nose were made with jelly beans.
But the real proof is in the taste-test!
If you have been wondering, “2G” was this lamb’s code name during testing. “2” was because it was the second recipe I received, and “G” referred to which frosting recipe it was.
And that disgruntled-looking cat is Zoe. She is half-Siamese, so she is always angry about something. In this case, she is angry because we didn’t give her any frosting.
“What do you think?”
“Where is that little book? I need to make some notes.”
The little book he is referring to is my lamb cake testing notebook. And the notes Tom made are as follows:
Dense. Not very sweet. Pound cake texture, slightly crumbly. Could use more vanilla or maybe some almond flavoring. A little plain on it’s own, but taste and texture would pair extremely well with strawberries or jam.
Frosting notes are:
Excellent. A little on the sweet side, but good texture. Tastes like bakery birthday cake frosting, and frosting made a “sugar crust” when exposed to the air.
The Verdict: The cake was good, but I think it would be even better used as a base for strawberry shortcake. Maybe a strawberry-filled lamb? Well, maybe that is too gory. The frosting was amazing, and is totally the “bakery birthday cake” frosting I have been looking for for so long! As a bonus, the frosting was inexpensive to make and so easy!
This is going to be AWESOME, I can’t wait for tomorrow!!!
Strawberry-filled lamb! That would be amazing.
My Brian gives better WTF disdain face. Sorry, Zoe.
But Ruth, I am totally enjoying the lamb series. What a great experiment!
I know, right? Totally putting that on the to-do list for next year.
Awww…poor Zoe… 🙂
Thanks, Yinzerella! I have to confess, it was really fun!
Love your blog!!!! If I somehow missed it posted somewhere, sorry in advance. But, I was wondering the make or model of your lamb cake pan? SO making this for Easter!
I just love this series you did! I’m on the hunt for the perfect lamb cake recipe which led me to your site. thanks for all the info and tips. I feel much more prepared to tackle the lambie now. I’ve printed out 3 of the recipes you tried. I might make one of each, who know. Thank you!
Thank you for all of the testing! I made the Pope Family Cake and the frosting in the first post. It turned out beautifully. I am serving it for our family Easter dinner tomorrow.
I am using my grandmother’s cake pan. She died in 1973 at 83 years old. My Aunt gave me the pan a few years ago. I’ve only used the pan one other time. I appreciate your hard work testing everything and giving such great info and pictures!
Since I have the old cast iron lamb pan, should I still tie it up just to be safe?
Hi Mary! The cast iron pans don’t usually need to be tied, but if it will give you peace of mind I say go for it! 🙂
I still would appreciate knowing at what degree’s I bake my lamb cake using the 2 aluminum pans & how long to bake it? Please help! Thank you
Hi Connie –
I am unsure what your lamb pan looks like (new vs. vintage) or what recipe you are using, so it is difficult to know what to advise you to do. All I can tell you is that one lamb usually takes 45 -60 mins at 350 degrees. Good luck! 🙂
Thanks so much for this. My Grandma used to make me and my sisters this cake every Easter And when my Grandma went to heaven I inherited thr lamb pan. The only time I’ve ever had the head roll off is when we were travelling in our camper one Easter as kids and the lamb fell off the table, hence the head rolled off. Somehow me and my sisters found this extremely funny but also sad because the lamb represents Jesus. For this reason I think jam is actually a little gory for this reason.
I’ve always made a light lemon cake and used raisins for eyes and 1 straight chocolate sprinkle for the mouth because my Grandma did it this way. I put krinkly Easter grass that goes in Easter baskets around the lamb to make it look like he is “lying in green pastures” and put jelly beans around the grass. I too use almond extract or vanilla to kick up the frosting a notch. Thanks again for the suggestion of tying thre pans together-would have never thought of that! Easter blessings to you! Amy
Thanks I have a 2 piece aluminum lamb set. I thought the degree`s would be half of that. I am actually using a pound cake recipe for my batter unless you could suggest one of your favorites. thanks so much for your help. 🙂
Hi Connie! Two recipes that you can try are the Renalde Lamb cake,http://www.midcenturymenu.com/2012/04/renalde-lamb-cake-recipe-the-eight-days-of-lamb-cakes/ , which is a lighter cake, or Pope Family Lamb Cake, http://www.midcenturymenu.com/2012/04/pope-family-lamb-cake-eight-days-of-lamb-cakes/, which is more of a pound cake texture. Good luck!
A couple of years ago, while cleaning out cabinets at my Grandmothers house, we found the original lambie cake from my sister’s 7th birthday. She is now 50 . This was the actual cake from 43years ago! We have shared so many laughs over that since. Last night, my Grandmother (she is 97) and I shared many memories & laughs and made new memories as we made a lambie cake for Easter Sunday. Thanks to your receipe he came out of the pan perfectly and his head stayed on!! Today, we will “dress” him and get ready for his presentation at Easter dinner! Thanks for your instructions! Easter blessing to all!
I used the Pope Family recipe today and noticed that it wasn’t that much different than the Renalde recipe–primarily the cornstarch. Like you, I agreed that the batter tasted very good…from the “tiny” taste that I took. While the finish cake tastes great, I had a horrible time with the batter running out of my cake mold. My mom used this pan to make my birthday cake every year for close to 20 years, and I’ve had it for close to 45 years and don’t ever recall having the batter run all over the place. Even the cupcakes–filled half full–ran out! So, in spite of the fact that the cake tastes great, I’m not sure that I would use this recipe again.
I used the frosting from Day 1 and added a little almond extract. Love this frosting!! The guests who are coming for Easter dinner don’t like coconut–which I usually would use for the final decorations–but I was easily able to create a “woolly” effect with this icing.
I used to have my grandmothers mold but loaned it to my cousin and never got it back. I purchased my mold on eBay last year. Made my cake today with a boxed pound cake mix (it calls for either milk or water and I used coconut-almond milk. The cake turned out great(and delicious). The pound cake is sturdy enough to support the head. We always frosted with whipped cream and use fresh coconut. Can’t wait to eat it tomorrow! Brings back great memories.
Happy Easter, all!
If anyone’s awake, please comment. These recipes all say flour, but some specify cake flour and others don’t. I’m making the Pope cake this year (having made Joy of Cooking’s White Cake II for years), and want to be certain I don’t muck it up by using the wrong flour, as the exchange rate of all purpose: cake flours is 1C:1C+2T.
PS: Ruth, thanks for your great research. It was wonderful to read through your (and Tom’s) notes, to make an informed decision about what recipe to use this year.
I tried this Vintage Bakery frosting recipe, mainly because I was intrigued with a frosting recipe that included flour in the ingredients, that wasn’t cooked first with the milk.
I was very disappointed, I’m sorry to say. I could taste the raw flour and also “feel” it.
I ended up disposing of it and going with my old standby, Ginger’s Bakery Frosting. My best friend Ginger gave this recipe to me years ago and it has never failed. She is an accomplished baker, who owned a bakery for years, specializing in Wedding and Occasion cakes I would be glad to share this recipe, as well as another favorite, which features a cooked milk and flour component. I won a Blue Ribbon at the Northwest Montana Fair with this frosting on my Rich Chocolate Cake. Love this site!
Hi, Kimberly: I, too, tasted the raw flour and could feel it initially. I beat the frosting longer and then added about 1/2 t almond flavoring. By then, it smoothed out, and the almond flavor was very good. The cake was a big hit, and everyone commented on how good the frosting was. I’d love to have the “Ginger’s Bakery Frosting” recipe as well as your other favorite. I’m always up for trying new frosting recipes!
Hi Gayle, if you like almond flavor in a frosting, then you will like Ginger’s Bakery Frosting, although you can use any flavoring you prefer, instead.
Thank you for the additional instructions for the Vintage Bakery Frosting, I will surely give it a try again.
Ginger’s Bakery Frosting:
2 lbs. plus 1 3/4 cup Powdered Sugar (approx. 10 3/4 cups)
2 cups Crisco shortening (no substitutes)
1/2 cup powdered milk plus 2 T.
1/2 cup cold water
1 T. almond extract
1/3 cup egg whites
Cream shortening, powdered milk and water in bowl of mixer. Gradually add sugar and mix well. Then add egg whites and almond extract and beat well, until fluffy.
This recipe makes A LOT, but it keeps well in the fridge, if you go with full recipe. Cut the recipe in half for an 8-10 inch cake. Some people are nervous about using raw egg whites, but I have been making this recipe, as well as Ginger, on a commercial scale, for years, with no health hazards. You could always use powdered egg whites, but you may have to increase the water in the recipe. This recipe lends itself to fabulous, wondrous things done with a pastry bag and decorating tip!
1 cup milk
5 T. flour
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup Crisco
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Cook together the flour and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat, until thick. Set this mixture in a bowl to cool in the refrigerator, while continuing with the recipe. Cream together the Crisco and the butter until completely mixed. Add the granulated sugar and beat well. Gradually add the cooked flour mixture, then the vanilla extract and beat frosting for 10 minutes. A fluffy Ivory frosting that is rich and not too sweet.
Thanks so much for the recipes! I definitely will try them!
One more note on the Vintage Frosting. I made this on Saturday morning and frosted the lamb cake as well as 1 dozen cupcakes made from the leftover batter for the lamb cake. I still had a little of the frosting left and put it in a container in the refrigerator. While the frosting on the cake dried a little bit, the leftovers stayed perfectly soft and would easily have spread 72 hours later.
You’re quite welcome, Gayle!
I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.
Good to know about the Vintage Frosting. I’m a fan of preparing party food ahead of time, another reason to try this recipe again!
Dear Retro Ruth,
I was soooo happy to find you and these comments online. And doubly pleased that my son found my Easter lamb cake mold from the 80s! My friend loaned me her mother’s cast iron one, but I actually like mine better. I made a buttermilk lemon pound cake as I love lemon. I used Crisco and flour to prepare the pans. A hint from an old Martha Stewart YouTube video was to pop the pans in the fridge before filling. Couldn’t find twine, so I doubled up sewing thread – tied it in two places – and baked it face down on a cookie sheet. Cooled it exactly as you said. And I put Lambie on a platter, covered it with Saran Wrap, and stuck it in the freezer till Holy Saturday when I’ll frost it. I looked for edible pansies for decorations but couldn’t find any. So, I bought Wilson candy flowers. Your color directions were perfect! I will also be making these for our March 19th Feast of St. Joseph’s Altar! Thank you so much! Happy Easter!
I used this cake and frosting recipe this year for my lamb cake and found the icing to be VERY sweet and strong with vanilla. It was similar to royal icing you would use on cookies. I thought by the title of it being like birthday cake icing that it would be similar to buttercream. I’m going to have to toss it but thought I would see if you have any good buttercream recipes.
All the recipes on these old ones must be missing 🙁 Tried looking at the black magic chocolate cake recipe and couldn’t find it, other than where it was reposted in the comments, but the recipe for the frosting on this one hasn’t resurfaced and I’d like to make this for the holidays D: Please help!
Hi Kimberly. I read your post on Retro Ruth’s blog I’d like to have Ginger’s Bakery frosting recipe. Would you kindly send it to me?
I have the best lamb pound cake recipe ever it was given to me by my home economics nun in 1967 it was her grandmothers recipe all from scratch, you have to use real ingredients – no margarine or generic. 6 large or extra large eggs, 1 lb(4 sticks) BUTTER, 3 cups cake flour, 1 (1lb,) box confectioners sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla. Cream butter, cream butter again with confectioners sugar until light and fluffy.Add eggs one at a time beating well after each egg(2 mins). Beat in vanilla. Add flour gradually. Grease and flour 2fronts and 2 backs of lamb molds.Bake molds on a cookie sheet face down @350 degrees for 45mins to 60mins turn their backs & bake for 10-15mins more. Makes 2 lambs. I also have the best old time boiled frosting recipe I use on my lamb cakes. VANILLA BUTTER FROSTING 1 cup milk & 1/4 c reg. flour blend in shaker(no lumps)until smooth cook stirring constantly until very thick and smooth.COOL. Refrigerate overnight. Cream BUTTER(1 cup butter with 1 cup granulated sugar beat beat beat, whip milk/flour mixture with 2 teaspoons vanilla. Beat all ingredients together BEAT BEAT BEAT til smooth and Beat some more texture will be like whipped cream but tastes better