A Sad Little Lamb story
Easter has come and gone at the Calvetti household once more. No egg dying, no egg hunts, no visits with the Easter bunny. Not my sons. They're 16 and closing in on 20, far too cool for that, though not too cool to get up and find their baskets filled with candy and a "Naughty Pet" from Target.
Nor are they too cool for the annual ritual I've grown to dread, the baking and eating of the lamb cake. I should have known better. I remember my mom grumbling about this same ritual when I was a kid.
A little explanation might be in order about now. As a child, Mom delighted us with a "Little Lamb" cake every Easter. This cake was your basic yellow cake, baked in a special molded pan resulting in a three dimensional sitting lamb. Piled high with buttercream icing, sculpted to look like shearling wool, resting on a bed of green-tinted coconut (which dried up untouched until being tossed with the last of the candy wrappers). Often, pastel colored icing was made into little flowers to adorn the lamb's head. Sounds cute, doesn't it? It is. Unfortunately.
Unfortunately, you say? Yes. Try actually making one of these and you'll understand the agony. Mom would grumble and curse under her breath when she made this thing every year. I didn't really understand it, until in a moment I'd live to regret, I sought out that same baking pan to relive the childhood ritual through the eyes of my young children.
Well! First off, that head is top-heavy! Thank goodness the nice man at Consumer Bakery, where I had to buy the pan, advised me to put a dowel through the top of its head before I started frosting and decorating, in order to keep the head from busting off the shoulders during the pushing and scraping involved. Mom must not have known that tip. Fortunately, I do.
Maybe my good fortune worked to become my misfortune. Since I didn't decapitate my first lamb cake, I couldn't throw in the towel as an inept cake decorator. Nope. In fact, despite a lack of Wilton training, I insisted on making it perfect for my little boys. Why, I don't know, but I did. Mixing small bits of color; green for leaves, blue, pink and yellow for flowers, I'd use the toy decorator tips abandoned quickly in one my of ongoing efforts to raise these boys in a nonsexist manner. They had no interest in delicately turned frosting leaves created by their own hands. No. Their interest lay more in dipping their own hands into said frosting and eating it. Straight up.
I knew they were my sons!
Nonetheless, year after year, I'd press on, creating this little masterpiece, using up the better part of Easter Sunday to make it happen. Many years, our friends Jon and Julie would join us in the evening for the ceremonial cutting of the butt, reserved for my husband. Photos would be taken with the lamb cake and the kids, showing the sameness of the lamb and the changes in my own little lambs each year.
A couple years ago, tired of spending the whole afternoon mixing and decorating, cleaning the toy decorator and then presenting the cake, I rebelled. I didn't make the lamb cake. They never said a thing!
So I thought, until the day after Easter my husband plaintively asked, "Why didn't you make the lamb cake?"
Sheepishly--ha-ha!--I pulled out the dusty mold the next year. I'm simplifying my life these days. I made the cake. Since my guys have never really cared about cute pink frosting flowers or carefully iced "fleece," I made the cake, made the frosting and slapped it on. Thick.
This year I made the lamb cake again, following my simple approach. My younger son Taylor did notice it wasn't quite as he remembered.
"Hey, don't you usually use blue M & Ms for his eyes? What's with these raisin eyes?"
That's right. He always ate the eyes. Too bad. You guys are nearly grown up now. Go bake your own darn lamb cake!