FREE RECIPE GLUTEN FREE ALTERATIONS
For those of you who are researching cake molds, I have no idea what brand of mold I have. My mold is a most basic old no-name light aluminum two-piece pan, 9.5 inches from chest to hind quarters, or about 11 inches measured horizontally from ear tip to hind quarters. As you can see from my photos, it turns out perfect lambs every time. If you're a collector, I doubt you'd want this type of mold. But if you are simply a cake baker who wants to make lambs, you'll be very happy with what this simple pan can do. Used pans are available on Ebay; Amazon offers a large selection of new pans.
I grew up with lamb cakes. My mom had a darling mold and would make the cakes every year. She kept one for us and gave the rest away. They were beautiful.
Years later, when I was married and long gone, I asked Mom if I could borrow her lamb mold. She said she no longer used it, and since no one else had ever mentioned it, I could have it. I was thrilled. She also gave me her handwritten recipe.
Mom's mold is aluminum. Truthfully, because aluminum is not good for human consumption and it leaches out of these things during the baking process, it would be better to use an iron mold. Both are available on Ebay. I figure since I only use this thing once per year, we're not consuming enough aluminum to do much harm.
There are several different mold styles available, but I'm very partial to the one I have. It is a refined looking lamb with excellent proportions, and I like the fact that the ears stick out away from its head. The style with the droopy ears typically ends up looking like huge, shapeless head/little body when its frosted. Of course, the stick-out ears are a trick to remove from the mold, but it can be done. I have yet to break an ear during the removal process.
The size of my mold is 9½ inches from hindquarters to chest -- end to end.
When I first started baking these cakes, I used my mom's recipe religiously. She had told me to expect failure if I altered it. Well, I eventually could no longer resist altering. I'm that way. I like health foods. It's impossible to make this cake truly "healthy," but I can try. I now use unbleached flour mixed with some whole wheat. I use cream of tartar mixed with baking soda instead of baking powder for leaven. I guess those are the biggies. Mom's batter was more liquid; mine is kind of dry and fluffy. I've never had a failure with my experimental batter. It holds together and fills the mold very nicely. Though some overflows, it's just excess and never affects the cake's shape or fullness. I get a perfect lamb every time.
My mold is old and does not have fasteners. This is not an issue. It used to be an issue sometimes with Mom's batter. Sometimes it would overflow too much and there would be a dent in the back of the lamb. All my dented lambs would still sit upright and hold together, so I guess this wasn't a major issue. They'd just sag a bit. This does not happen with my batter. Some folks do tie their mold halves together. I've never tried that. My mom never did it. I think my sister ties her floppy earred mold together.
I consider removing the baked cake from the mold a surgical procedure. I use a table knife and spend a lot of time at it, carefully sawing off excess and loosening the cake so nothing gets left behind and the ears don't break. Once removed, the cake must be propped upright until it is thoroughly cooled. For this, I stand the back against a wall and place the face against something heavy enough to keep the head upright. The photo shows a lamb propped with a breadboard half that I happen to have. It looks so cute peeking over the breadboard -- if a cake can be cute.
By the way, sugar is an excellent preservative and all that frosting provides a good seal. You can frost a lamb and let it sit on the table as a centerpiece for a couple days with no harm done, including staleness. Be sure to drape it with a sheet of plastic wrap, though, so it doesn't collect gross dust. (Mom did this when we were kids and, typically, by Easter the lamb had a somewhat bare back, the result of us kids picking and eating nibbles of frosting on the sly.)
SOMETHING NEW: I made this year's cake today, 8 April 09, and did something different, purely by accident. I pulled the back off the cake immediately upon removing it from the oven, but I let the rest sit around for a lot longer than the recipe says to. I let it cool quite a bit, maybe for a half hour. Then, when I began the extraction process, in a panic, I noticed that the cake was already real loose in the mold, except along the seam. I sawed very carefully through the excess at the seam, as always, and carefully pushed the cake away from the mold, just inside the edge of it only. Then, the cake simply dropped right out of the mold, completely intact. It was the most perfect cake I've ever produced. My point: include this correction in your copy of the recipe. Let it cool down considerably before extracting it.
When the cake is thoroughly cooled, wrap it in something and put it in the freezer, even if you want to frost it right away. Plan for an over-night in the freezer because it's much easier to frost if it's hard. Then spread on the frosting and press shredded coconut into it. I use a raisin for the eyes and mouth -- a single raisin. Raisins are shaped sort of oval. Cut off the two ends and use those for eyes, as that will provide eyes proportional to the face. Remember, a lamb's eyes are sort of on the sides of its head. Then cut the remainder of the raisin in half the long way, so you have a long, narrow strip of raisin. Press that into place for the mouth.
Tomorrow is Easter. We have an invitation to share a meal with my sister-in-law and her stepson's family. At a loss for what to contribute, I asked the Lord. A lamb cake came to mind. I hadn't made any this year, nor did I even consider it. I ran the idea by my husband and he thought it was a great idea (his relatives). I worked on the cake today and my son said, "Mom, you should be making a lion, not a lamb." He was probably being silly -- he does that -- but I paused and pondered it. The light dawned. The lamb is about Good Friday, when Yeshua went to the cross as the sacrificial lamb. But he rose victorious and triumphant -- the Lion of Judah! Maybe I'll have more than a cake to share tomorrow!
Surrendered -- at His Feet
NEW FOR 2014 -- Gluten Free: This new lamb won't be for Easter, but close. One of the kids has to give his senior recital the week after Easter, which means Mom has to provide a reception, so I am amassing treats for this occasion. I decided a lamb cake would be fun.
A new challenge has been thrown my way. Three months ago, I was told I have celiac disease. I had no symptoms; it turned up while testing for other issues. So now I'm on a gluten free diet. Add that to my husband's low fat diet, and life (and cooking) get real complicated.
This lamb was purely an experiment. I could have made an ordinary lamb -- after all, I'm serving this to other people -- but decided to use the occasion to see if I could create a gluten free lamb. I did!
A couple weeks ago, I stopped at a bulk food store in search of alternative flours. The clerk sold me a bag of premixed all purpose flour under the brand name "Bob's Red Mill." She also sold me a mysterious substance called xanthan gum that she said needed to be added, but she didn't know why or how much. I brought it home and pondered it and tried some muffins (no xanthan). They were dry but tasted good.
Today was the lamb experiment. I did some online research first. Discovered that xanthan gum replaces the culprit in wheat flour that I can't tolerate. Gluten is a substance that occurs in wheat flour and reacts when it contacts liquids, making the flour sticky and stretchy. It is a polymer. Xanthan gum is also a polymer and can produce a similar reaction in alternative flours, though not precisely the same. These substances make dough able to respond correctly to leaven -- very important.
Finding out how much xanthan to add to my recipe was a bit challenging, and I think I added a little too much. Oh well. The end results weren't disastrous, but the batter was weird -- looking and acting similarly to bread dough.
Then there was the taste of the batter. It was not like wheat based flour. It was similar to something I had tasted before, and I pondered that a bit, and the light dawned. I looked at the flour's ingredients to confirm my suspicious. Sure enough! It tasted like raw garbanzo beans -- because garbanzos are the main ingredient in the flour. If you've ever bitten into a garbanzo that's been soaked by not cooked, that was the flavor.
Well, this flour is produced by a company that specializes in making flour blends that mimic the properties of wheat based flour in baking, so I guess garbanzo flour is important for getting the desired results. Anyway, it wasn't horrible but just strong. Wheat flour is kind of tasteless by contrast.
So, I made the cake batter by following my already existing recipe except that I used 2 cups of the Red Mill alternative flour and added to that 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum, another dry ingredient, and butter instead of margarine. I cut my baking time short by ten minutes, because this alternative flour seems to scorch sooner than wheat flour batter.
This batter turned out stickier than my regular lamb batter. I had more difficulty getting the finished lamb out of the mold. I worked at it with a table knife, and also allowed the cake to cool for a long time. The back came off easily enough, actually, but the face side was brutal. There was some minor damage to the lamb, and the baking process caused cracking that had never happened with wheat flour, but the cake held together. It just looks skinned up. This won't matter because the frosting will hide all superficial imperfections. No one will ever know.
By the way, there was ample batter for three cupcakes. I ate one, and son ate one. We both liked them. Can taste the garbanzo flavor but so what. It's rather good. Oh, and most importantly: I asked the Lord to help me with this project. It was scary -- I'd never done anything like this before -- and I did not wish to end up throwing out an entire cake. As you can see, the lamb was a success, and I have yet another reception treat to serve (besides two different fudge flavors thus far, also gluten free).
I eventually served the lamb at the recital reception. It was well received, and there was much interest in the fact of its being gluten free. What was left I took home for the family to eat along with a scrumptious carrot cake. The lamb got eaten first; the garbanzo bean flour was no hindrance, and this bunch does not have celiac. After considering the flavor awhile, it occurred to me that it tasted like anise! If no other flavors are added to the cake except vanilla, the baked garbanzo bean batter tastes very much like anise. No one here objects to anise!
2015: I simply used sorghum, garbanzo, and rice flour -- stuff I happened to have here at home -- with no particular attention to proportions. That's usually how I bake gluten free these days. I'll tend to make garbanzo my biggest proportion just because I like the taste and texture. I mix all sorts of things together, mostly just to use them up equally.
If you would like my recipes -- Mom's batter, my batter, Mom's frosting -- please email me at: yahsfiberartist at gmail dot com, and I will reply with a link. Include "Lamb Cake" as your subject. The recipes are in PDF format, all in one file.
Gluten free substitutions are not on the recipe files. They are explained on this page, above. You can click the link at the top of the text area near top of page, if you wish.
If you have any wonderful, bad, or humorous lamb cake experiences to share, please come back to this form and tell me all about it. I'd love to know whether my recipes are working for you. They've always worked for us! Thanks.
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