Allergy Friendly Easter Lamb Cake
Growing up, Easter was a major few days of celebration in the Martino family. As I have written 1,000 times before, my family is traditional Italian and from Holy Thursday through Good Friday our kitchen was constantly going with preparing the traditional pizza rustica, Torta di Grana, homemade pasta for cannelloni and more. My favorite part though was my Aunt Filomena’s lamb cake. I have an unholy love for cake, and this was everything you could ask for-moist yellow cake baked in a decades old lamb cake mold, fluffy marshmallow-y icing and rich coconut flakes. She scattered jellybeans to look like Easter eggs around the green tinted coconut “grass”. I stared at the cake on the dining room sideboard from the minute Aunt Fannie walked in with it from the minute it hit the table for dessert. Heaven!
This is one of my childhood traditions that I had to recreate for the Wolf Pack. It honestly is incredibly easy, the only thing you need is a 3D lamb mold (available on Amazon, of course!) or you can make it flat and trace a lamb template by baking the cake in a sheet pan. The pan HAS to be greased very well or it will get stuck in the grooves when unmolding. It is also best to refrigerate it overnight.
I have two cake options, one Wacky cake that is egg and dairy free and another that is not egg free but of course both are always customizable to your safe needs. You can use my Top 8+ free icing but go right ahead and use your favorite recipe or store-bought tub frosting. No worries! Do what’s easy and what your family loves, that’s what it’s all about.
Be safe and well and enjoy the Spring holidays, this year feels hopeful and bright after a dark year. Happy Easter! 👩🏻🍳💙🐣🌈
**As always, please check which brands are safe for your needs**
Ingredients and Substitutions
Ingredients and Substitutions
If using either cake recipe, here are substitution notes for both:
Milk (safe or regular) – The recipe for the Perfect Yellow Cake uses regular milk, but I use Casey’s safe So Delicious coconut beverage. You can use your safe milk of choice.
Eggs– The eggs are absolutely necessary the Perfect Yellow Cake recipe. The cake needs the air whipped into the eggs for stability and rise in the cake, and even more so when made with gluten free flour. The yolks also help provide fat for moisture.
Butter (vegan or regular) – The original Perfect Yellow Cake recipe uses regular butter. A form of melted fat is necessary to the recipe, like the eggs, but there is wiggle room here. Melted shortening or coconut oil did not work well, the best option here is safe vegan butter. Casey’s safe is Fleischmann’s unsalted margarine sticks. You can use either regular or safe butter depending on your needs.
Flour (gluten free or regular) –If using a gluten free flour blend that does not contain xanthan gum for either cake recipe it must be added. It helps provide the structure that is lacking from the absence of gluten in wheat flour. Use ¼ tsp. xanthan gum per 140 g. (1 cup) of flour. I use King Arthur Measure for Measure gluten free flour blend for best results. Remember that all blends are different, and results may vary. If you are fine with wheat, then all-purpose flour is perfect here.
Flavoring – I usually make a straight vanilla flavor, but you can also add flavoring extracts of choice like lemon, coconut or orange. Instead of 2 tsp. vanilla, use 1 tsp. vanilla and 1 tsp. flavoring.
For Icing and Decoration:
Fat for the “Buttercream” Icing – Casey can have baked milk but obviously that’s not an option for icing. I use a blend of his safe margarine and Spectrum palm shortening. Whatever is safe for you, be it butter, plant based vegan margarine or Crisco, go for it. I recommend not using straight shortening as the flavor is not great and it’ll make it very stiff. A little shortening is good though because it helps to stabilize the icing.
Coconut – This is traditional but optional. You can use sweetened flaked coconut or unsweetened. I like the sweetened because of the texture and aesthetic for the cake, and I find children prefer the flavor. It’s up to you.
**Note** Check online for lamb cake decoration ideas!
Icing – By all means use your favorite recipe or tub frosting if you’d like. The key though is to have the icing at the proper consistency. If it is not whipped soft enough, it will tear the cake as you spread it on. If it is too soft, chill the icing and mix thoroughly before spreading again. The coconut helps to mask any flaws as well! 😉
Lamb Mold – If you are lucky enough to have a family mold, use it! If not, they are very inexpensive and can be found on Amazon, Michael’s, AC Moore or most crafting store that sell cake decorating tools. I have a Wilton mold. Alternatively, you can print out a lamb template, bake your cake in a half sheet pan and trace it cut out the cake. It will not be 3D, but still adorable and fun!
Jellybeans/other Candies for Decoration – Casey has always safely enjoyed Starburst and Wholesome/Surf Sweets jellybeans and they’re a really cute addition to the cake. Add whatever holiday candies, sprinkles or décor you like!
Allergy Friendly Easter Lamb Cake
Author: Katie Martino Lopez
Prep Time: Cake: 10 minutes, Icing: 15 minutes
Cook Time: Depression Cake: 30 minutes, Perfect Yellow Cake: 40 minutes to start.
Total Time: without cake cooling and refrigerating, about 2 hours
Yield: About 12 servings if using mold
For Perfect Yellow Cake (gluten free or regular):
For Vegan Wacky Depression Cake (gluten free or regular)
**Follow variation for vanilla or chocolate**
For Allergy Friendly “Buttercream” Icing:
See Instructions for Baking in the 3D Lamb Mold Below in “Method”
-About 1 ½ – 2 c. plain sweetened shredded coconut for the lamb’s “wool”
For Tinted Coconut “Grass”
1 – 1 ½ c. sweetened coconut flakes
3-4 drops green food color
-Add coconut to a large zip top bag.
-Dilute a few drops of green color with about ½ tsp. water.
-Start with a small amount!! You can always add more coloring but can’t make it less. The color will be more intense with the more water you add.
-Shake the bag vigorously to color the coconut and set aside.
Baking in the 3D Lamb Mold
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Prepare the mold by brushing it entirely on both sides with safe shortening and dust heavily with safe flour, knocking out the extra. Make sure all the crevices are thoroughly covered in shortening and flour or it will stick. Butter and safe butter will not work as well, and coconut oil will melt very quickly.
- Pour the batter into the bottom half of the mold, making sure it doesn’t overflow. Add the top half of the mold and close shut with string or a twist tie in the open loop.
- Gently place in the middle of the middle rack of the oven. Put a piece of foil or a sheet pan underneath to catch any overflow.
- Bake 30-40 minutes, testing the cake for doneness with a toothpick or thin skewer through the open circle in the mold. COOL COMPLETELY on a wire rack with the top of the mold off.
- When cool, wrap and chill the cake a few hours or even better overnight to set the structure and make it more stable to work with.
- ***If not using a mold*** Prepare your cake base but bake in a half size sheet pan. You want it to be a tall cake as it’s difficult to cut in half, and it’s sweet enough with just the outside layer of icing. Cool and refrigerate the cake as in the directions above.
- Print a lamb template offline and use to cut out the lamb shape for decoration.
Prepare the “Buttercream” Icing
- Using the recipes above or using your favorite icing recipe (or have tub frosting ready), prepare the icing for decoration. This can be made a day or two ahead or even a month ahead of time and frozen. It is a very stable icing. If prepared ahead and refrigerated, put it back on the mixer and beat until fluffy and spreadable. This is VERY important so it will not tear your cake. If the cake is refrigerated as suggested, this will minimize the cake tearing as well.
-food coloring for tinting
-pastry bags for decoration
-long wooden skewers or dowels for lamb head support
-jelly beans and/or other safe candy decorations
- On your serving platter (you DO NOT want to move the cake once it’s decorated!) put a thin strip of buttercream the same length as the lamb base. This will help anchor it down.
- Remove the cake from the refrigerator and cover the whole lamb with icing, not too thick but enough not to be see through.
- Place the uncolored coconut on a plate and holding the iced lamb (this can get messy!) with one hand, use the other to pat all over the lamb, front and back, leaving the face and front of the ears uncovered.
- Place the lamb upright on the strip of icing on the base. NOTE! If the lamb’s head gets heavy or cracks, push a long skewer or dowel straight down from the top of the head to keep it stabilized. Cover the hole with icing and coconut.
- Decorate the lamb’s face and ears and body as you wish, either using my picture as template, examples online, or your imagination!
- Scatter the green coconut “grass” around the lamb’s base and add the jellybeans and other candy décor you wish.
- Refrigerate for the icing to harden and set the lamb’s structure. Let sit out 15-30 minutes before serving.
- If using a flat cake template – Follow all the same directions just put the cake on a flat serving base. You’ll have to do more freehand decoration without the mold leaving a guide for you. You’ll also need less coconut “grass”.
- The cake will keep for 5 days refrigerated, and the uniced cake base and buttercream can be frozen for up to one month as well.
- It’s a major benefit to have the cake refrigerated after cooling! It will be much more stable and easier to decorate.
- Have an idea of how you want to decorate the cake before you go into it, so you’ll know how much icing, coconut and décor you’ll need.
- The colors I suggested are merely that-suggestions! Let your imagination go and have fun with this.
As we all know, reading labels and preparing food when managing allergies is a job within itself with much responsibility. All the brands I use are ones that I have contacted, and Casey has eaten safely. That being said, I must remind…
Please do your own research when deciding which products and foods are safe for the allergies you manage. These are the ones that are safe for our needs but may not be for you. Everyone has different comfort levels with manufacturing and production procedures.
And, as a friendly reminder, always have 2 epinephrine auto injectors on hand!