Lamb cakes are a tradition for Easter and spring for many families. Our family bakes a lamb cake for a child’s first birthday, but they are fun for any occasion.
Lamb cakes are fun to personalize, and kids love to help with the mixing, baking, and decorating of this super easy pound cake.
So here’s the story.
We use a cast iron cake mold that has been in the family for several generations. This mold is from the Griswold Manufacturing company from Eerie, Pennsylvania that dates back to the 1800’s. Although the company no longer exists, the molds can still be found at antique stores and eBay. You can also find many examples of aluminum lamb molds in today’s market, and they work just fine.
We still have the original recipe card with my grandmother’s handwriting. The card is yellowed, with stains and water marks from use. I no longer use the original recipe, but it’s so special to keep close by while I’m cooking. I really should frame it. It was used by generations of women in my family, and I get very emotional just pulling it out of the box.
The original recipe for cake and icing can be found here.
I use a box pound cake, and these are my modern-day ingredients.
- A pound cake mix (follow directions on the box)
- oil, milk (or water), and eggs per the cake mix requirements
- 1 large bag of shredded coconut
- 1 container of vanilla icing or your own favorite recipe
- green food coloring
- large plastic bag for mixing the coconut and food coloring
- baking string, about 12 inches
- a small tube of dark brown or black icing for the eyes and mouth
- a jellybean for the nose
- ribbon to tie around the neck, about 16 inches
- optional: raisins, chocolate chips, or other round candies for facial features
** Season the pan if it has not been in recent use.
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Spray both insides with non-stick spray, or grease and flour the pan.
3. Make the cake mix according to the package directions.
4. Fill the front of the lamb mold with batter. Spoon the batter into the ears to make sure they are completely filled. There will be leftover batter. You do not add any to the other side of the mold.
5. Place the back of the mold on top and tie each end with string to hold the front and back of the mold together.
6. Place the mold in the oven face down, directly onto the rack. Place a flat pan underneath it to catch batter drips.
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
8. Remove the mold from the oven and carefully turn it to the other side. Place it back into the oven to cook for 20 more minutes.
9. Remove it from the oven and let it rest on a rack for about 10-15 minutes.
10. Cut the string and slowly remove the top. Let it cool for another 10-15 minutes.
11. Carefully pry the edges loose with a knife and remove the lamb from the mold. Place it upright on a rack until it is completely cooled. If the ears droop or come loose, insert toothpicks to hold them in place.
12. Set it on a platter or cake stand, brush off the crumbs with your hands, and ice the cake.
13. Immediately pat half of the coconut onto the icing. Cover all the cake, and gently press the coconut into the icing to get it to stick.
14. Create the facial features using candy and a tube of dark icing. Tie a ribbon around its neck.
15. In a plastic bag, mix a few drops of green food coloring and the remaining coconut (about a cup and a half). Mix them together until the color is evenly distributed. Sprinkle this “green grass” around the base of the lamb.
16. Find a pretty birthday girl.
17. Have a party!
16. Eat cake!
18. Pass the tradition on to future generations.
19. Share the stories of you home, including the messy ones. Yes, the cake got stuck in pan three times one year. And the ears fell off a couple of times. And sometimes the kids would rather play with the coconut than eat the lamb cake.
The lamb cake tradition is a special one, and I have wonderful memories as a child of my grandmother bringing this special cake for dinner. I’m boxing up the mold for the next baby in the family, and for the future mommies who will make their first lamb cake.