In 2013, I gave Pan Apprentice Linda a Griswold Cast Iron Lamb Cake Mold for Christmas. Linda’s last name is “Lamb,” so it seemed appropriate.
Since 2013, Linda repeatedly said she was going to make a lamb cake in the mold, but she procrastinated. When we went to the Griswold & Cast Iron Cookware Association‘s (GCICA) annual convention in Fargo in 2015, however, Linda was motivated to try the lamb cake after talking to fellow GCICA members Brenda and Doyle. Brenda is a master cake-maker-froster, and she gave Linda tips about making cakes with Griswold cake molds.
Linda decided to give her lamb cake mold a try for a family Easter holiday meal in 2015 (note: Linda now points out that it is not the wisest course of action to make a tricky cake for the first time the very day it is to be served at a large celebration). The chest crumbled and the ears fell off. The family did not have lamb cake for dessert. Despite best efforts, Linda’s lamb did not meet the “Brenda” standard.
Not to be dissuaded, however, upon their next encounter Linda asked Brenda for insight about what went wrong with her Griswold lamb cake effort. Brenda emphasized the necessity of burying toothpicks into the batter of the ears to hold them to the lamb’s head upon removal of the cake from the pan.
The next time Linda tried making a lamb cake, the ears stayed on, but the lamb’s head fell off.
In 2018, Linda once again determined to make the lamb cake for her family’s Easter dinner. She failed to heed her own advice to practice before making the cake the same day as the family holiday gathering.
Below is a photo of Linda’s 2018 lamb cake. While the ears remained fixed to the head and the head to the body given the embedded toothpicks, the front and back of the body were ripped asunder. Once more the lamb did not meet the “Brenda” standard, and the family did not have lamb cake for dessert.
At the April 2018 GCICA convention in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Linda talked to Brenda about her persistent difficulties with the Griswold lamb cake mold. I overheard Brenda telling Linda, “Baker’s Joy! Lots and lots of Baker’s Joy!”
Linda vowed anew to prepare a Griswold lamb cake to the “Brenda” standard. She determined to take her own advice and to make it to the “Brenda” standard in advance of any celebration. “Practice makes perfect” became her new motto.
Accordingly, on a recent weekend away at our friend Mary’s cabin on Lake Superior, Linda brought all of the tools to make a “Brenda” standard Griswold lamb cake. Per Brenda’s recommendation, Linda brought a pound cake mix, instead of trying the original Griswold recipe.
Linda carefully cracked the eggs into a bowl, added the pound cake mixture and milk, and mixed the ingredients together with a fancy blue Kitchenaid hand mixer. She placed the front half of the mold upon a cookie sheet. She then thoroughly sprayed the front half of the mold with a faux Baker’s Joy concoction (it was what Mary had available), and carefully poured the batter into the front half of the mold, stopping just short of the mold edge. She gently planted skewers into the ears and neck of the lamb, just as Brenda had recommended, and carefully covered the skewers with batter. While she was doing this, Linda barked orders at me to take photos of each step so that she could show the world that she had perfected the “Brenda” standard. Linda pulled me away from the task I was doing (I was busy either either making driftwood crafts or trying to get wax off of Mary’s floor as a result of my efforts to make pinecone fire starters…) to document her pouring the batter into the mold. “Mary!” she hollered, “I am about to pour the batter!”
Linda carefully placed the back half of the mold upon the front half, and slid the mold into the oven, instructing me to set a timer for 20 minutes. I did so.
After 20 minutes, Linda carefully flipped the lamb mold over and placed it back into the oven, and instructed me to set another timer for 20 minutes. I did so.
Once the cake had baked for a total of 40 minutes, Linda pulled the mold from the oven and very carefully removed first the back, and then the front half of the mold pieces. Voila! A lamb was born!
We all danced and clapped at Linda’s success with the lamb cake, confident that she would be able to finally create a Griswold lamb cake to the “Brenda” standard.
Because we had to leave to catch the ferry soon, Linda decided to pack up the lamb cake and frost it upon her return home. She lovingly and carefully packed the lamb in aluminum foil, and delicately and oh so carefully placed it and the mold into her large plastic tote to pack it into her car for the journey home.
A short time later, we heard Mary scream, “OH NO!!”
We rushed to the scene. Hunter, Mary’s 12-year-old West Highland White Terrier, had crumbs on his face. Crumbs were scattered on the floor. Hunter had decapitated Linda’s lamb and eaten the head.
Linda has high hopes for next year.
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