Lamb Cake Lore
Family traditions aren’t dyed in the wool.
Making lamb cakes has been a tradition in my family ever since the 1920s, when my mother, Signe Jensen, brought a heavy cast-iron mold home to our small dairy farm. I was 9 years old at the time, and I remember watching with great interest as my mom poured her raisin-studded batter into the lamb-shaped mold and baked it. After it was done, she carefully took the warm cake from the mold. Later she’d spread frosting on the lamb, then sprinkle shredded coconut on top to give it a flu y coat. From then on, the lamb cake reappeared for special occasions, particularly Easter. But the little lamb was always so cute, no one wanted to eat it. So we would put it in a place of honor inside a glass cabinet until the coconut “wool” started to turn yellow. I inherited my mom’s treasured lamb mold when I became a mother myself. But instead of making the special cake only at Easter, I started my own family tradition with my son, Dennis. I baked a lamb cake for his first birthday, surrounded it with small candies, then set it all in front of him. He dug right in— literally! Dennis had so much messy fun with that cake that when my first daughter was born, I made her a lamb cake of her very own. The tradition lives on with my grandkids, who get a lamb cake to dig their little fingers into on their first birthdays. I’m not sure what my mom would think about how I turned her tradition on its head, but the kids definitely enjoy it!