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Recipe for making an Easter Lamb Cake with Popcorn Wool

Easter Lamb Cake with Popcorn Wool

If you're from Chicago (or eastern Europe, for that matter), you know that Easter means Easter Lamb Cake - a lemon-flavored cake baked in the shape of a resting lamb, slathered in buttercream and covered in a coconut fleece. Given that we're not a huge fan of coconut - we came up with a fluffy, delicious alternative: use popped popcorn for the fleece, instead.

The idea came up when my bestie Amy - whose family Easter Lamb Cake recipe is a classic - and I were talking about holiday baking plans. Amy said how her mom doesn’t use coconut for the fleece, because some family members don't like the flavor.

And we thought, wouldn’t it be a hoot if we could put popcorn on the outside of
the lamb cake instead? Popped popcorn is kind of fluffy, like wool. (Right?!?)

Amy and her family are Catholic. Every Easter, her mom transforms the holy trinity of flour, sugar and butter into this lamb-shaped cake, and uses two licorice jelly beans for eyes and a pink jelly bean for a nose. The lamb pan her Mom uses belonged to her mother, Amy's grandmother.

The cake is one way her family celebrates the end of Lent - the time for Catholics to enjoy dessert again. After the adults feast on ham, and the kids dive into the mac-and-cheese, someone takes up the honor of tearing off the lamb cake head and serves slices of the body all around.

Her family's not alone. As Easter approaches, households around the world prepare to celebrate with various customs and traditions. Among these, one delicious tradition stands out: the Easter Lamb Cakes. These delightful treats not only tantalize the taste buds but also carry a rich history that adds layers of meaning to the celebration.

Easter Lamb Cakes, often crafted from a cake mold in the shape of a lamb, symbolize the sacrificial lamb in Christian theology. While the exact origins of such Lamb Cakes are unclear, the tradition may have evolved from ancient pagan rituals that celebrated the arrival of spring and the renewal of life.

Baking an Easter Lamb Cake requires a little patience and a lot of fun. The base cake recipe is pretty simple - similar to a pound cake, but flavored with vanilla, almond, or citrus zest to add a touch of brightness. Once mixed, the batter is poured into lamb-shaped molds, which can range from traditional metal molds to more modern silicone varieties.

After baking to golden perfection, the cakes are carefully removed from their molds and allowed to cool. This is where the real artistry begins. With a delicate hand, you'll crumb-coat your Easter Lamb Cake with a layer of sweet buttercream frosting - and of course, the popcorn "wool".

So this Easter, why not try your hand at making your own lamb cake? Whether you stick to tradition or put your own spin on the recipe, the result is sure to be a delightful addition to your celebrations. 

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