I’ve done my fair share of talking about and making lamb cakes: decorating hundreds every season at Tags Bakery, their history in a Chicago Sun-Times article in 2010, and how to successfully bake one on the Wilton blog last year. With all of that floating around on the interwebs, it hardly seems necessary to repeat instructions here. Plus, it’s Easter morning. It’s nearly 11:30 in Chicago. If you’re thinking about starting a lamb cake now for a celebration later today, don’t plan on eating any time soon. The cooling instructions for the baked cake are no joke – skimp on the cooling, and risk Little Lambie’s head cracking right off on front of the children. Think of the children! Follow the cooling times, or risk years and years of expensive therapy for the kids.
My 2012 lamb is coconut cake with lemony marshmallow frosting. This silky frosting naturally makes the most perfect peaks as it is swirled onto the cake, so decorating is a breeze. Save this recipe for next year, or perhaps celebrate Easter again tomorrow so you have the excuse to make this cute cake today. The awesome sticker is courtesy of the the American Lamb Board…probably not exactly what they had in mind for their promotional piece, but it works for me!
2 eggs + 4 egg whites
2/3 cup cream of coconut (stir this well so the fat solids incorporate with the liquids before melting)
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut, coarsely ground in the food processor
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1 inch tablespoons
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray both sides of the lamb pan completely with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, egg whites, cream of coconut, water, coconut extract, and vanilla extract until well combined.
In a large bowl, mix flour, ground coconut, sugar, baking powder, and salt with electric mixer on low speed until combined, about 15 seconds. Add butter 1 tablespoon at a time, continuing to beat on low speed until mixture forms a ball, about 2 minutes.
Stop the mixer and add half of the liquid mixture. Beat on low speed until the flour mixture is moistened, about 15 seconds. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 45 seconds. With the mixer still running, slowly stream in the remaining liquid. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Beat on medium speed for an additional 30 seconds.
Pour 5 cups of batter into the bottom of the pan, the half with the lamb’s face, filling it all the way to the top. Cover with the bottom half of the pan. Truss the lamb with kitchen twine, stringing it through the hole that aligns the pans, and around the neck and body of the lamb. Put the whole lamb pan onto a cookie pan. Resist the urge to open the pans. Bake 42-48 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the hole in the top of the pan comes out clean. Remove lamb pan from the cookie sheet and cool for 5 minutes. Snip the kitchen string and remove the top pan, cooling for 5 more minutes.
Replace the top half of the pan, turn the cake pan over (use oven mitts – it will still be very hot), and remove the bottom half of the pan. Let the cake rest in this part of the pan until it is completely cool, between 3 and 4 hours before decorating.
Lemony Marshmallow Frosting
4 egg whites
3/4 cup granulated sugar
zest of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon lemon juice
pinch kosher salt
pinch cream of tartar
Boil 2 inches of water in a pan that is large enough to hold the bowl of an electric mixer without the bottom touching the water. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk until combined. When water is at a boil, reduce heat to low and put mixing bowl on top. Whisk constantly until egg mixture is very hot to the touch, about 5 minutes. Remove the mixing bowl and transfer to the electric mixer. Use the whisk attachment to whip the mixture to stiff, glossy peaks. Decorate the lamb with big swirls of icing.