Friday, April 16, 2021

The Lamb Cake

About a month ago, from dear Angus friends in Michigan I was gifted a Griswold Company cast iron lamb cake mold. I love cooking and baking in cast iron, but I’d never seen such a pan. With the months of February and March being such a blur to our family, I was determined to use this unique mold to create a cake that the kids would adore on Easter weekend. A new tradition awaited. 

In my planning, I’d forgotten that the visions I create in my head and what actually comes to fruition very rarely align. 


I browsed the internet to find every imaginable recipe and set of instructions for a Griswold cast iron Easter lamb cake. There are some true icing artists out there! What idyllic family stories Americans cherish with these early lamb molds.  


I enlisted the kid’s help to season the mold, make the batter, lick the beaters, and set the toothpicks in place to keep the ears intact. We filled the mold, tied it at the neck, put it in the oven and hoped for the best. 



As though a baby calf was about to be born, every member of this family peaked through the oven window over the next hour to see what was going on. No change was visible. We know a watched pot never boils, but does a watched lamb cake ever bake?


Yes. Yes, it does. 


Taking it out of the oven with a crowd breathing down my neck was the easy part. 


Keeping the thing alive while removing it from the cast iron required real skill that I wasn’t born with, nor have I acquired in my years. 


Everyone watched with bated breath while two of the lamb’s four stomachs fell to the side leaving it quite frail. Then the head fell wayside, clipping off an ear. Finally, one of the delicate legs crumbled onto the platter. 


“Take the kids outside,” I told my husband. “This is going to get ugly.”


“Uglier than that?” he asked. Then he took the kids outside.


What happened next can only be described as fraud. 


I strategically placed 8 toothpicks throughout the interior of the lamb, securing its head to its neck, neck to its torso, torso to its hip, hip to its tail and well, you get the picture. It was ugly. Ugly and pokey. 


Then I took the lazy woman’s way out and opened not one, but two, cans of icing and proceeded to coat the wooden lamb with 4,000 calories of vanilla icing. It acted as a glue, holding all crumbling parts together and covering the many imperfections. Then came the sprinkles, used as more of a decoy than decoration. I placed two raisins where the face might have been and welcomed my family back into the house.


“What is that?” Cyrus asked.


“Where is our lamb cake?” Caroline asked. 


“This is it, kids! You made this!” I tried to blow some enthusiasm and ownership into the room. 


“I thought it was supposed to be a lamb,” said Caroline, deflated. “It looks like a sad cat.”


“It does look like someone cut back on the feed too early,” said my husband who consistently accesses real life situations with cattle references. 


I rolled my eyes then used a plastic straw to point to the anatomy of the lamb, as clearly, they couldn’t even recognize the head from the tail. 


At dinner that night Caroline asked if I could move the lamb cake to the other counter because it was looking at her. 


At 9:00 that night Cody asked if I could put it in the refrigerator because it was now looking at him. 


“What are you going to do with it?” he asked the next morning over breakfast. 


“I can’t just throw it away,” I said. ‘I used real butter….and Mexico vanilla your mom gave us….and almond extract. It’s a good cake,” I justified my creation over a bowl of Cheerios. 


“But it scares the kids,” said Cody (voice of reason). “You saw the head fell off again over night?”


“Yeah, but who eats the head anyway?” I asked. 


Three hours later we’d experienced a lovely Easter service at Centerville Christian Church and we pulled into my parent’s driveway to enjoy Easter lunch with them. I carried a teal Fiestaware platter up to the door.


“I thought you were bringing salad?” Mom asked as I carried the foil-covered cake into the house. 


Before I could explain my dessert addition, our lovely daughter exclaimed “Don’t eat that cake, Grammie! It’s a cat.”


Kids these days.