Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
A three-dimensional cake made in the shape of a lamb (symbolizing the Lamb of God) has been a long-standing tradition, especially in Eastern European cultures.
There are two basic types of molds: Those that snap or wire together for baking, and those that bake in two halves that you ice together after baking.
Here's a recipe developed in the Chicago Tribune test kitchen for chocolate poundcake baked in a lamb mold. Gretchen Homan, test kitchen manager at Wilton Industries, said that the company's 6-cup, two-piece aluminum Stand-Up Lamb Pan mold is available for $13 online at wilton.com.
1¼ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons plus 1½ teaspoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa
3 tablespoons each of boiling water and milk
1½ sticks (¾ cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1¼ cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vanilla buttercream frosting, sweetened flaked coconut, jelly beans
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Whisk together cocoa, boiling water and milk; set aside.
Beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about two minutes. Add the sugar gradually, beating until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until mixture is smooth, about five minutes. Beat in the reserved cocoa-milk mixture and vanilla. Lower the mixer to low speed; add the flour mixture gradually, mixing just until combined.
Coat the interior of each half of the lamb mold with vegetable oil; let sit five minutes. Remove excess oil with a paper towel; grease and flour both interiors. Place the front half of the lamb mold face-down on a baking sheet. Pour batter to within ¼ inch of the rim. Place back half of mold on top. Bake 40 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven; turn the mold face side up. Return to the oven; bake until a tester tests clean, about 20 minutes.
Cool on wire rack five minutes; remove the front half of mold. Cool 10 minutes. Turn out the cake, supporting it with your hand and turning it face side up onto a wire rack. Cool completely before icing.