Baking lamb cake for the Easter holidays seems to be a rather uniquely German tradition (correct me if I’m wrong). It’s tacky (actually, „O, SO TACKY!“) but life would be sad indeed if we stopped doing all the things that do not elevate our cool factor. So I got myself the mould and braved it…
Naturally, I might also defend myself with the challenge that I felt so many years after seeing all of my previous attempts of producing this cake – which, without exception, took place during my childhood – result in failure and some mild degree of despondency. The mould usually would explode during the baking process with the pins of the model that we used (presumably antiquated even back then) not being able to hold the two halves together, or the dough would run through the gaps not leaving any „lamb“ to be baked inside. At other times, the dough would not spread well inside the mould and you ended up with a perfect derrière of lamb that, tragically, was missing a head.
Despite this early kitchen trauma, I managed to pick myself up over the years and produced a reasonable enough Easter lamb cake this year to feel encouraged to carry this new-old tradition forward.
Here is some practical advice that I believe may ensure good results:
- Use a good and stable mould with good non-stick qualities and a convincing mechanism to pin the two halves together tightly for baking.
- Butter the mould well (very well) before use and additionally, cover with a thin layer of very fine sugar before filling in the dough.
- Use a pastry bag to fill the dough into difficult-to-reach parts, in particular the head of the lamb, and in particular when using a smaller-sized mould.
- Bake on an oven tray to avoid any mess in the oven by spill-overs.
- Remove the mould while still warm, but handle with extreme care as the cake is still very soft and breaks more easily at this point.
The dough used for Easter lamb cake is typically a pound cake dough („rührkuchen„) which you may vary to taste. I found the recipe below very delicious. The amount of dough is good for a smaller-sized mould. I used it for a 0.7 l mould – it was a little bit to much, but I deliberately filled the mould up knowing that the baked spill-overs would find enthusiastic takers. I was certainly right about that.
- 2 large eggs (room temperature)
- 125 grams of butter (room temperature)
- 110 grams of icing sugar
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla sugar
- 1 pinch of salt
- 100 grams of flour
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
- 60 grams of ground almond
- 2 tablespoons of dark rum
- Prepare the mould as described above.
- Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius (fan oven).
- Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites.
- Beat the egg whites with 60 grams of the icing sugar until stiff.
- Beat the egg yolks with the rest of the sugar until creamy. Bit by bit, beat in the vanilla sugar, the butter and the salt.
- Pass the flour and the baking powder through a fine mesh and mix with the egg yolk mix until smooth.
- Mix in the rum.
- Fold in the ground almond and then the egg whites.
- Pour the dough into the mould.
- Bake for approximately 30 to 45 minutes. To check whether it is done, stick a skewer of knitting needle into it. If there are bits of dough attached to it when you pull it out, it is not yet done.
- When done, take out of the oven and let cool down a bit. Cut off dough that may have risen above the mould and then take off the mould. Handle carefully (the dough breaks easily when still warm) and let cool down completely.
- Decorate with icing sugar or, alternatively, coconut flakes (leave out the face). If available and to your liking, add an easter lamb cake ensign (or whatever else you like for decoration – it certainly can be done nicer than in the pictures).