This year I remembered the lamb cake pan I bought off eBay a few years ago, and the kids were enthusiastic about making one, so we went for it.
It came without directions, so I had to wing it. For future reference, here's what I learned:
- Grease and flour the pan very thoroughly, or it will stick
- the pan is not big enough to hold an entire cake mix, but it will hold more than half of one
- fill the pan basically up to the top but don't mound it in the center or it will cook over in huge globs
- referencing the previous point, put the mold on a cookie sheet before you put it in the oven, otherwise you could end up with a huge mess in your oven. It's much easier to clean a cookie sheet
- do take care to fill up the ear wells, because while the batter puffs up, it won't expand outward to fill the well
- contrary to some instructions you may find on the web, you do not fill both halves of the mold and then put them together with frosting. You put the front of the mold on your cookie sheet and fill it, then you attach the back part of the mold to the front and you bake it. The cake rises to fill the mold, or, if you don't put enough batter in, you get a lamb with a great front and flat back. I know this because after over-filling the first time, I under-filled the second, but doesn't it look cute anyway? I don't care about the back of the cake and I doubt anyone else ever will.
- in my oven, I had to bake it for an hour. Last night's first attempt fell apart because it wasn't baked to the point of having a nice brown crust that gave it some structural integrity. A white lamb cake tastes awesome -- delicate cake, mmm -- but falls apart before you can frost it.
- organic coconut flakes are a lot smaller than regular shredded coconut, which would work a lot better.
- recognize that this is more for show than eating (see point above on baking the cake to the point where it's firm), although the kids love the gobs of frosting
All in all, a successful outcome. Yesterday's practice lamb is just about gone, and we've already eaten half of the "overflow" cake made from the leftover batter. This is the frosting I used:
Meringue-Stabilized Buttercream Frosting
1 + 1/2 lb confectioner's sugar, sifted
3/4 C (about) Spectrum organic shortening
1/3 C water
2 T Just Whites powdered egg whites
1/8 t cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
Combine the water, Just Whites, and cream of tartar in a large mixing bowl. Beat at high speed until peaks form. Stir in 1/3 of the sugar, mix to blend. Alternately add the shortening and the rest of the sugar, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and the salt, beat well. Be sure to beat at high speed for at least 1-2 minutes to incorporate enough air so that the frosting will be spreadable. It "sets", which is essential here where it can be so hot -- and it tastes great.