The way I see it, we need a little spring. As they say, reality is something you rise above, so let’s do that today! Let’s rise above! Get a cup of tea Girlfriends, turn on the MUSICA, put your face close to the screen so even your peripheral vision is enveloped in bloom and enjoy your. . .
It’s spring fever. You don’t quite know what it is you want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so bad. ♥ The Adorable Mark Twain who knew.
Can you smell the fresh ocean air up from the harbor, still cold, filled with flowery scents of spring? Whoosh! The wind blows through the petals. Wrap your sweater a little tighter. Mmmm, we are so lucky. Don’t you just love the internet?!
We can see last year’s weeping cherry trees in full bloom even on a snowy day . . . makes you want it so bad, your heart just aches for it. It’s coming Girlfriends. The waiting is what makes it so wonderful. ♥
Right now we are still having our most delicious dinners of deep dark and delicious homemade Chicken Soup – but today we are looking for COLOR and so it’s time out for . . .
We love to do the chicken dance — here’s my recipe for Carrot Cupcakes which I think you will want to save. SO good, filled with fruit and nuts, lots of shreded carrots, pineapple and coconut. Cream Cheese frosting. The recipe will also make a three-layer cake ~ with so much batter you will have extra cupcakes, enough for your spring-starved girlfriends, chicken hearts and wolfmen too.
We just got in a new batch of these festive easy-to-make kits for darling dancing chicken cupcake toppers in case you’d like one.
And we still have the Cupcake Garlands that Janie made for us. It’s these happy colors I love to see. But you know, I’m on a lamb kick right now.
They are just so darn cute. They baaaa “Spring.”
And here’s my newest concoction. We found perfect old-fashioned Lamb Cake Molds for our web store . . . I made the cake using my Grandma’s homemade Lemon Daisy Cake recipe because it makes a firm cake, almost a pound cake but not quite, a cake that isn’t too crumbly and holds together. But a box cake and frosting will work too and I’m not against anything that makes a lovely smell come from the oven (there’s one boxed white cake I’ve used that has confetti colors in it that I think might be perfect for lamb cake) ~ the directions that come with the pan tell you to make it using less liquid. ~ in case you feel a need for speed. I’ll show you how to make the Lemon Daisy Cake, and I’ll put the full recipe at the end of this post so you can print it out.
So here we go. First tip: Successful unmolding of your cake is paramount. The way to do that (for any molded cake) is this: Melt a couple tablespoons of Crisco and brush it into ever nook and cranny of your mold. The mold should be cool when you do it so the oil will stick.
Also, take the time to flour your pans. Just shake flour over the oil until it sticks everywhere and shake out any extra. Notice we have kitchen twine, toothpicks and wooden skewers? You will need these … as you’ll see later. Put your prepared pan on a cookie sheet with the lamb face down. Preheat your oven to 375º ~ feel your kitchen getting warm and cozier by the minute. Pop an old movie into the player . . . I watched/listened to Gosford Park while I cooked — here’s the MUSICA from it …
This recipe and lamb cake is really so easy! All ingredients should be at room temperature. Two sticks of butter and two cups of sugar go into a large mixing bowl.
Put four roughly measured cups of flour into your sifter and sift three times . . . then measure out 3 cups. You want to measure after sifting. Any extra flour goes back into your container. Put the sifted flour back into the sifter, add one TBSP baking powder and 1/4 tsp. salt and sift again two more times. Use my waxed paper method for sifting unless you have a method you like better.
Allow all petty pets to watch your every move.
Now cream the softened butter and sugar together with an electric mixer . . .
. . . until light colored and fluffy
Then, one at a time, add the yolks of four eggs (save the whites in another bowl), beating well after each.
Once the eggs are incorporated, sift in dry ingredients by thirds alternating with buttermilk ~ little bit of flour, a little bit of milk, repeat~ beat until smooth after each third.
I like the old-fashioned tangy flavor the buttermilk gives this cake, but if you are at home and all you have is regular milk, that will do just fine.
Stir in the grated rind of two lemons . . . so easy to do with the wonderful Microplane Graters (← let me demonstrate!) . . . Miracle things no kitchen should be without. Like little razor blades for fast easy no-more-knuckle-in-the-food cooking.
Beat your reserved egg whites until stiff, then fold them into the cake, and voila, Daisy Cake batter is done.
Fill the face side of your mold (you’ll be able to tell which side to fill because the other side has a tiny steam-hole in it). Big tip #2: Head-falling-off can occur, it’s a possibility you will want to avoid from the get go. Because if it does, you’ll try to glue it back on with frosting. Which puts a wide messy crumbly lump around the lamb’s neck. While you’re busy sticking the head back on, the ears fall off. It’s terrible. I’ve made that mistake, but no more. Now I am stick woman. Toothpicks for the ears and wooden skewers for the neck.
Then I tie the mold together with kitchen string, just in case. If, for some reason the batter tries escape out the sides, I’m ready. We want a perfectly molded little lamb here, on the first try. Pop the cake in the oven an let it fill your toasty kitchen with fragrance of lemon-baking heaven.
Set your timer for 55 minutes and take a look outside and see what’s going on.
There’s bound to be something.
After the cake comes out and is cooling, you can pull out your Summer Book and find my recipe for Old-Fashioned Boiled Frosting on p. 109. But just in case you don’t have that book, here’s the recipe . . .
This is another easy recipe that’s like science magic. You need a candy thermometer like you see here. I have it hooked on the side of a small heavy-bottomed pan that already has a third-cup of water in it . . . I’m adding a cup of sugar.
Then 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar and a pinch of salt gets stirred in ~ put the pan over high heat and boil without stirring until mixture reaches 240°.
While that’s going on, beat two egg whites until stiff.
When the sugar liquid is hot enough, pour it in a thin stream into your egg whites beating all the while, and watch it get thick, white and fluffy . . .
Just like this! Look at that! You are a genius!
When the buzzer goes off, Ta-Daaa your lamb cake is done. Pull it out of the oven, and now is where your patience must never come to an end. You have to wait until he is totally cool before you set him up to frost. You can cut the string, take off the top part of the mold, let him sit like that a while. Put the mold piece back on, turn it over, and do the same thing. Until he is completely cool.
Meanwhile you’ll have made your frosting . . . swipe the middle of your cake platter with a wide swath of frosting so the lamb has something to anchor him in standing position.
This is what we’ve waited for. He’s up! He came right out of the pan with no help. Look at him! He’s perfect. I didn’t have to do a thing but turn the pan into my hand and set him into the frosting smear. But then, how to frost him was my next question. I wanted to see if I could come up with something a little bit different than the way I usually did it (with raisin nose and chocolate chip eyes), make him more real. I needed inspiration and I knew just where to get it.
I pulled out the little book we bought in a bookstore in Ambleside in England filled with lamb pictures, all the different breeds.
I thumbed through it and chose this guy. That’s what I wanted my lamb to look like. Within reason.
So I started applying the frosting. I couldn’t hold the camera and frost at the same time, but there is no real trick in the frosting ~ it all goes pretty easily. For the corners like under his chin or around the ears, just put a good lump of frosting on the very end of your spatula or wide knife and plunk it right where you want it, spreading from there. You can wipe off the plate with a damp paper towel when you are finished.
Hello just-born lamb. Of course Lemon cake and coconut go together perfectly, and lambs need wool, so here is. If you press the coconut in a little bit, it keeps him from looking too hairy.
Just as sweet from the back. In the past I’ve decorated the plate with green-tinted coconut (like Easter grass) and jelly beans, and egg-shaped frosted cookies . . . but I was taking this cake to friends for dinner and it isn’t Easter quite yet, so I decided to leave it plain and my version of homemade-elegant.
So darling, always the cutest thing on the table at any party. (Just pulled out my lamb vase too — almost time to fill him with forsythia cuttings! I collected a few more lamb vases when I could find them on our cross-country trip in case you “need” one too . . .)
I wrapped him up, lamb cake-to-go-go. So that’s about it. I hope you enjoyed our springtime retreat and are all inspired to make a lamb cake of your own. And if so, you might need a lamb pan, and that is what I can help with.
Because I washed my lamb cake mold, dried it and tied it with a ribbon, and here it is, all freshly imbued with successful lamb-cake baking DNA ~ and I hope you will leave me a comment at the bottom of this post, because if you do, you will be entered in my drawing, and he can be your very own. In the next few days, our darling girl Vanna will pull one of your names out of her Easter Bonnet (the one with all the frills), and one of you will be the grandest lady in the Easter Parade. Or, at least you will have a new, slightly used, lamb cake mold. ♥
Now one other thing I wanted to ask you. Do you have this book? Because if you do, you will know how inspiring it is. I found this one years ago in a used bookstore and have loved it ever since. It’s my go-to, never-gets-old classic; a small, inviting garden book, where every word is a pearl. Planning a garden takes a little time, and this book will help you get in the mood. You feel as you should when you read it, as part of the earth, part of the ebb and flow of the seasons and the ancient practices of sowing and reaping from the precious green earth that God has given us. You can smell the warm dirt, taste the crisp, still-warm-from-the garden organic vegetables, hear the bees buzzing in the rosemary. That’s how you feel when you read this little book. ♥
The charm doesn’t end with the wonderful words of Mary Mason Campbell, it continues with darling drawings by Tasha Tudor. Kitchen Gardens was published in 1971 and describes the art of gardening as the simple and wonderful thing that it is.
And this book is for you too. I have two, and you get one. I signed it and when I find out the name of the winner, I will put their name in this lovely old book and off they will go, Lamb Cake pan and Kitchen Gardens, hopefully to make someone’s day. I have to say, you deserve to win after reading all this! It’s getting long — I’m so sorry!
And now, one last thing, just so you can see ~ this is where we were going for dinner the night I made the lamb cake . . . Isn’t it pure fairy tale? Our friends Arnie and Paula live here. When I see visions such as this, I think maybe winter’s not really that bad! Here’s your recipe:
LEMON DAISY LAMB CAKE
You will need melted Crisco and flour to prepare mold, plus two wooden skewers and two toothpicks for lamb.
- 2 sticks butter (1 c.), room temp.
- 2 c. sugar
- 3 c. sifted cake flour
- 1 Tbsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 4 eggs, separated, room temp.
- 1 c. buttermilk
- zest of two lemons
Grater, in case you need one . . .
Preheat oven to 375°. Paint the inside of your mold with melted Crisco, sprinkle with flour and shake out extra. Cream softened butter and sugar together with electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Measure your dry ingredients: sift approx. 3 c. flour three times before measuring out three cups and putting them back into the sifter (any extra flour just goes back into your container) ~ add baking powder and salt to sifter with flour in it and sift two more times. Set aside.
Add egg yolks, one at a time, to butter-sugar mixture; beat well after each ~ put the egg whites in another bowl.
Sift in flour mixture by thirds, alternating with buttermilk, beating until smooth after each addition. Stir in lemon zest. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold them into the batter.
Fill face part of lamb mold (the side that doesn’t have the hole in it) full and put it on a cookie sheet. Lay toothpicks in centers of lamb ears, put clipped wooden skewers or a popsicle stick in center of neck down to body for support. Press them down slightly into batter. Put on the top of the mold and tie it together with string. Put the cookie sheet with the lamb cake into preheated oven and bake 55 minutes. Remove from oven, cut string, allow lamb to cool 15 min; remove top, cool longer, turn it over, remove other side of mold, allow it to cool competely before frosting.
You will have extra batter — enough for one 8″ single layer cake, or several cupcakes. With my extra batter, I made a bunny cake… with a vintage bunny cake mold I found somewhere on my travels. Lambies and chickies and bunnies . . . oh my!
CLASSIC OLD-FASHIONED BOILED FROSTING
You will need a candy thermometer for this. Pour 1/3 c. water into a small, heavy-bottomed sauce pan, then stir in 1 c. sugar, 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar and a pinch of salt. Hook the thermometer on the side of the pan making sure the tip of it is in the mixture. Boil until the mixture reaches 240°. Meanwhile beat 2 egg whites until stiff. Pour the 240° syrup over the whites in a thin stream, beating constantly until thick and glossy. Lay a wide strip of frosting down the middle of an oval serving plate. Tip the lamb cake out of the pan into your hand and set it in the strip of frosting to anchor it. Frost the lamb; pat and sprinkle coconut onto sides. Press coconut in slightly to keep the lamb from looking too hairy. Voila, he is done, and you are amazing! Happy Spring Girlfriends! I think I have delighted you (in the immortal words of Jane Austen) long enough! ♥