This post has nothing to do with France, but I wish you happy Easter, happy Spring, with my mother's traditional lamb cake recipe. It's really easy to make, and will be the centerpiece of your Easter table. Follow my tips, so you can learn from all my previous mistakes.
I use a Nordic Ware lamb cake mold, which you can order on Amazon.
1 box cake mix of your choice
large 5 cup package coconut
chocolate chips for eyes & nose
Follow directions that come with the mold. Most importantly, omit the oil from the cake and reduce the water by 1/4 cup. I used a Betty Crocker mix that calls for 3 eggs, 1/3 cup oil and 1 and 1/4 cups of water. But for the mold, the batter needs to be stiffer than usual so it does not break apart when decorating. Combine dry cake mix with 3 beaten eggs and 1 cup water, and omit the oil.
Prepare the cake molds by greasing generously with butter or Crisco, and dusting with flour.
Pour the prepared cake mix into the bottom half of the cake pan (the half without the steam hole).
Cover cake with the top half of the mold. As the cake rises, it will grow to fill the top half of the mold.
Place the cake on a cookie sheet, which I cover with parchment paper for easy cleanup. You will have a little extra batter left over, so use it for cupcakes.
Bake in 375 degree oven for 45-55 minutes. (Cupcake leftovers will be done in about 20 minutes).
After 45 minutes, check to see if cake is done by inserting toothpick in the vent hole, and remove from oven to cool.
Leave the cake to cool for at least 5-10 minutes, then remove just the top half of the mold.
Leave the cake to sit in the bottom half of the mold for 45-60 minutes until completely cool.
While the cake is cooling, time to make the grass! Pour about 1/2 of the shredded coconut into a ziplock bag and add about 20 drops of green food coloring. I like mine deep green, but you can use less coloring if you want pale grass.
Zip the bag and shake and smoosh vigorously until the coconut is evenly coated.
Now, time to select just the right strand of coconut for the mouth. I take a few strands out and look at them to choose one I like.
Choose one that has a natural curve for a cute smile! I chose the top strand, and then trimmed it to the appropriate length.
Then add a drop or two of red food coloring to the mouth, and set aside to dry.
Then select some chocolate chips for the eyes and nose. If your chips are large, you might need to trim to fit. I trim the nose into a triangle shape.
Now, when cake is completely cool, gently turn over and let cake slide out in your hand.
With a sharp knife, gently trim off the bottom seam to get a smooth edge to allow the lamb to stand firmly.
Place a swoosh of frosting on the platter to help "glue" the lamb so he doesn't slide around.
Now, frost gently.
Be very careful frosting around the ears and neck. If the cake is going to break, it will be in these areas. I have fond memories of my mother struggling to reattach an ear with a toothpick, or prop up the neck with whatever object seemed suited for the task. But honestly, I have not had problems with breakage when I omit the oil from the recipe. I think leaving out the oil is key to a firm cake.
Now, gently pat the shredded coconut around the whole cake.
Add his little face by gently pushing in the eyes, nose and mouth. Use a tootpick to help apply the mouth and get it to stick to the frosting.
Now add the grass.
Decorate with colored candy eggs, and you're done!
Little ones love to help with the cake, and even the youngest children can shake the grass, scatter around the lamb, and add the colorful jelly beans.
I hope you will try this cake, and begin a tradition of Easter memories...such a welcome time of spring, of rebirth and new beginnings, with hope and faith for the future.
Give it a try and let me know in the comments how it turns out. I think lemon cake would be great. We usually make chocolate, and this year we decided on red velvet cake. Hope the red dye #40 doesn't cause too much damage.
We usually make our cake on Saturday, wrap gently in Saran Wrap and refrigerate overnight. Then remove from the frige an hour or so before serving.
Footnote: About 5 years ago, I took the cake out of the frige on Easter Sunday and set it on the kitchen table. I stepped away to get ready for church, and returned later to find Sophie, our 30 lb pug, on the kitchen table, devouring the lamb cake, right through the plastic wrap!! We must have forgotten to push the chairs in. She'd eaten about 1/2 the cake before being apprehended. She was not invited to Easter dinner.