The Black Sheep…I Mean, The Red Lamb of Easter

Written by Rose

Every family’s got holiday traditions.  If you think you don’t, just give it a little research and you’ll find the good, the bad and maybe even the delicious within your family history.

For instance, our very own lamb. He’s part of my childhood just like a favorite baby blanket or stuffed animal. He’s a cake…a lamb cake.

Lamb cakes go way back in my family. WAY back.

lamb cake old lady

Whoa. Not THAT far back.  Pretty far back.

See, my Mom has been making an Easter lamb cake for almost all of my 44 years, and if ever there’s a year when Lamby was in danger of not happening, I revolted! I have great memories of my Mom and me mixing the batter, carefully making a mess (or at least I was!) while adding each ingredient into the mixing bowl, then over-filling (I mean filling) one half of my Mom’s metal lamb mold and then the other and popping it into the oven “where the magic happens” (magic DOES happen elsewhere in the home, but this is an Easter tradition we’re talking about here).

My Mom and I would get out the Easter grass, jelly beans, raisins and coconut and then sit in the kitchen listening to the Mommas and the Pappas or, as years progressed, Leif Garret, Shawn Cassidy, John Cougar Mellencamp or Duran Duran; talking about gymnastics lessons, Easy Bake Ovens, Intellivision Video Games or my latest schoolboy crush while we waited for the Lamb cake to finish baking.  After a few “doneness tests,” often adding to Mom’s collection of oven burns on her forearms, my Mom would announce, “The Lamb cake IS DONE!” At this point we’d arrive a the moment of truth.

The thing is, lambs have ears.  They need ‘em.

The problem with lamb cake molds is…the ears.  The cake-ears are small and delicate; one false move and your lamb is instantly earless, requiring toothpick reattachment surgery. Toothpicks do not go well with dessert-eating.

Anyway, ears or no ears, every year my Mom and I make lamb cakes that look something like this:

red velvet lamb cake 1

with pound cake insides.

Except for Easter 2007.

Time for a little family history. My grandmother, Clarice, lived life to the fullest; she loved to laugh, loved to bake, loved housefuls of people, loved a good joke, loved living near the beach, and for half the year she loved the warmth of the Florida sun. She loved to quilt/crochet/make things with shells, loved her Manhattans and loved a very short list of favorite foods.  For dessert, one of those favorite foods was red velvet cake. So, Lamby went red for Easter 2007.

Now, when red velvet cake is nestled on the inside of a decorated cake, no big deal; it’s simply red, chocolatey deliciousness waiting to be exposed, right?

Right.  Except when that cake is in the form of an animal.

That Easter 2007, everyone was smiling at Lamby’s cuteness, as usual, AND THEN, as the first slice fell to the plate, smiles vanished.  (Luckily, Nana’s eyesight was too far gone by then for her to react).  Creamy white outside,  MEATY RED on the inside!  Ew. Dead Lamby on a plate!

We all laughed and filled Nana in on the offending cake. I wish I had taken a picture of her laughing at her slice of red velvet lamb cake that Easter. It was a lamb cake to remember.

Until the following year.

That’s when Mom, talking away and asking who wanted ice cream or coffee with their cake, “decapitated” poor Lamby in front of a table of instantly-horrified grandchildren!

red velvet lamb cake 2

Our Lamby!


*In case you’re interested in starting this tradition with your family this Spring, you can purchase Lamb Cake molds like the one my Mom used at Lehmans. The cake mold comes with a recipe or two, but here’s another that’s pretty close to my Mom’s (some family secrets are too valuable to share!)

Do you have any Easter traditions? We’d love to hear the details…the delicious, the bad and the nightmarish!



Categories: Family

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1 reply

  1. Rose, I loved your lamby expose! I wish I had this memorable tradition. I have seen lamb butter molds, but never cake. Won’t it be priceless when your girls take up the tradition!

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