Easter Lamb Cake(Serves 8-10)
"Torta di Agnello"
Italian pastry shops have an array of lamb cakes available at Eastertime. Make one as a centerpiece for your Easter brunch or dinner table or to give as a charming gift. To make the lamb cake you will need a 2-piece lamb cake mold approximately 10- by 4-inch in size. A pound cake is the best candidate for a lamb mold because it is a dense cake that's strong enough to keep its shape without breaking. I have included a simple pound cake recipe but if you prefer to use a cake mix, be sure that it's a pound cake.
This pound cake can also be baked in a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan. Grease the pan well and place a piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan. Bake for the same amount of time. If baked in a loaf pan, the pound cake will have a crack down the center; this is normal for a pound cake. We are also providing you with a recipe for Vanilla Buttercream Icing and step-by-step photos for decorating your lamb cake.
Traditional Lamb Cake
3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 -1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup whole milk
1-1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Vanilla Buttercream Icing:
1-1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
4-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
Pinch of salt
3-4 tablespoons heavy cream
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Brown, pink and green food colors
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and place the oven rack in the center of the oven.
The most important step is preparing the pan. Your cake will unmold easily without sticking if you prepare the pan properly. Using soft butter or shortening, grease the inside of the lamb cake mold with a pastry brush, making sure that all the indentations are greased well.
In the bowl of your electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar together for 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and then the eggs, one at a time, beating to combine after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Start the mixer on low to combine and then increase the speed to medium and beat until the batter is smooth and creamy.
Pour the batter into the front half of the pan (the side of the mold without the small vent hole). The batter should come right to the rim, almost to the point of overflowing. Smooth the top with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.
Place the back half of the pan on top and use the clips provided with the pan or tie the top and bottom halves together with kitchen twine. To keep the pan stable, place it on a baking sheet and place in the oven, Bake for 50 to 60 minutes.
Remove from the oven and remove the top half of the pan. Insert a toothpick into the body portionof the cake to be sure that it is done. (if not, return to the oven for a few more minutes.) Allow the cake to cool in the bottom portion of the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then turn the cake over and remove the bottom pan. The cake should come out freely. Allow the cake to cool completely before decorating. The cake can be covered and stored for several days at room temperature, for one week when refrigerated, or it can be frozen for two months.
To make the icing:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed until the butter is nearly white in color and very fluffy, about 7 minutes. Frequently scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the confectioners' sugar, salt, heavy cream, and vanilla. Mix on low speed until blended, then increase speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 5-6 minutes, frequently scraping down the sides of the bowl.
NOTE: When making the frosting, be sure to beat the ingredients for the full time indicated. It may seem like a lot longer than you usually beat frosting but the extra time makes the frosting extra fluffy, light, and very creamy ... so don't cheat!
Mound the tinted coconut around the base of the cake. Press jelly beans into the coconut. Tie a ribbon carefully around the neck. To serve, cut into thin slices.
How to Decorate a Lamb Cake
Remove the cake from the mold. Place upright on a platter or work surface. If the cake doesn't sit flat, trim it slightly. Use a little icing to adhere it to the platter and help prevent it from moving while decorating. Place about
1/4 cup of the icing into 2 separate small bowls. With food coloring, color one portion dark brown and the other portion pink. Set aside.
Cake removed from mold sitting flat on cardboard work surface
Cake with a crumb coat applied with small spatula
Use a small spatula to apply a thin layer of icing all over the cake ( this is called a crumb coat.) It doesn't have to be very neat, it's only done to prevent a lot of cake crumbs on the finished cake. Apply a thicker layer of icing over the face area and smooth it as best you can. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Use a small round decorating tip in a pastry bag to pipe the brown icing for the face and pink icing on the ears and nose. Then fill a pastry bag with a medium open star decorating tip with the white icing. Create stars or swirls all over the cake to simulate wool.
To make the green coconut for grass, put a couple of handfuls of coconut in a bowl and add 2-3 drops of green food coloring. Stir with a spoon until the coconut is well coated; add more coloring to get the desired shade of green.
Use a standard cake mix or your own recipe. Proudly made in the USA by Nordic Ware.
If you frost cakes regularly you want to ensure that an extra-nice frosting job is done. The advantage of having a revolving cake stand is that it gives you easy access to all sides of the cake for frosting. The cake leveler insures perfectly even cake layers and the cake spatulas allow you to achieve super-smooth edges on both the crumb coat and final layer.
Non-stick finish makes transferring your cakes a snap. Perfect for lifting cakes to a platter after frosting to maintain the beauty of your creation. Spatula design is large enough for most cakes. Proudly made in the USA by Nordic Ware.
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