If I were a good German housewife (which I have never professed to be), I would traditionally bake an Easter lamb for Easter. I have never made one before. However, I decided this year that I should make an extra effort and show Miss M some of the German Easter traditions because the kindergartens are closed. And why not share the recipe here? The only problem is, it’s an Easter chicken.
We have been busy making Easter decorations this Spring, such as these beaded bunnies and these faux stained glass eggs. Before we go overboard and lose our Scandinavian vibe, I thought we should focus on other aspects of Easter. So it’s time for some Easter baking!
Well, I thought I was going to make an Easter lamb.
When we moved to Solingen, in some areas, we consolidated not two, but three households. My mother-in-law was ‘downsizing’ and moving upstairs. We were moving from Düsseldorf, where we still had not consolidated Peter’s stuff and my stuff from Brussels. One of the areas that needed consolidation was baking goods, especially baking trays. We really did not need three lots of everything, especially form trays that only get used once a year, if that.
One of the things that my MIL had that I then not need to purchase was an Easter lamb mould. I filed it away as semi-useless information and did not think anything more of it until this year, when I decided that I would use it.
Only, it is not an Easter lamb at all. It is an Easter chicken.
Baking forms for Easter lambs
Easter lamb baking forms are available here at the supermarket – even in times of Corona. They are also available online such as from Zenker, one of the biggest German manufacturers.
At the supermarket this morning, I also saw Easter bunny baking forms. I did not buy one, but you can here.
Instead, when I returned from the supermarket – without any toilet paper – I found our Easter lamb baking form in the cellar, only to discover it was a chicken and not a lamb.
The form we have is definitely intended to be used for Easter baking. In fact, the box even says “Fröhliches Osterbacken” or “Happy Easter Baking”. Still, I have never seen an Easter chicken baking form before.
Perhaps an Easter chicken is better?
Most of the Easter lamb recipes are pretty bland. Many don’t even have vanilla in them. I knew from the outset that I was going to need to tweak any recipe a bit.
The recipe on the box for our Easter chicken (yes, my MIL has kept the box) includes rum essence and a hazelnut glaze. Neither of those is my favourite thing when it comes to cake.
I had already decided – when I thought we had an Easter lamb – that I would do a passionfruit syrup or glaze. Passionfruit was available at the supermarket and I haven’t had any for ages. They are not easy to find in Germany, especially when they are not in season.
I was a little worried that the passionfruit pips would look a little suss when they dripped off the lamb and formed a puddle underneath. With the chicken, it will either be a speckled Easter chicken or it is the food pellets underneath.
Where does the tradition come from?
Lambs are a symbol of innocence, but Jesus Christ is also referred to as the “Lamb of God”. Traditionally, a lamb would be slaughtered and eaten on Easter Sunday, as the first meal after Lent (which began with Carnival).
While many families still eat lamb for Easter, other meat and meat alternatives are becoming more popular. The cake in the form of a lamb is a particularly nice alternative for those who do not like lamb meat. Originally, the Easter lamb was a yeast wreath, but it is now more often a cake – thus the cake forms!
Tips for making an Easter lamb or Easter chicken
Only five simple tips this time:
- Find a baking form.
- Grease the baking form really well.
- Do not overfill the baking form: find out how much batter fits the form (it says so on the box – often 700 ml) and adapt your recipe accordingly. This recipe is for a 700 mL form.
- Carefully tap the air bubbles out of the mould before putting it in the oven. You don’t want the form to come apart or the batter to go everywhere.
- Place a tray under your baking form. Even if the recipe is for the amount that the baking form supposedly holds, it is likely to leak.
Will you make an Easter lamb or an Easter chicken this Easter?
I guess the answer will really depend on which baking form you can find. But why not start this lovely tradition with your family? Just watch how you ‘carve’ it.
Easter lamb (and Easter Chicken)
For the cake
- 60 g butter
- 1/3 cup superfine caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon or orange rind
- 2 eggs
- pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup plain flour
- 1/4 cup corn starch
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon lemon or orange juice
For the passionfruit syrup
- 3/4 cup caster sugar
- 1 cup water
- Pulp from five passionfruit
For the cake
- Preheat the oven to 160°c. Grease the lamb baking form well and dust with flour.
- Place the lemon rind and sugar in a bowl and rub the rind into the sugar with your fingers and thumbs. It should start to smell like lemon drops and the sugar will take on a yellow hue.
- Add the butter and beat with an electric beater until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Sift the flour, corn starch and baking powder over the butter mixture, add the lemon juice and fold all the ingredients together.
- Carefully spoon the batter into the baking form, tapping gently to remove air bubbles.
- Bake for 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for approximately 5 minutes before removing it from the baking form.
For the syrup
- While the cake is baking, place the sugar, water and passionfruit pulp in a saucepan over low heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
- Increase the heat and bring the mixture to the boil, then simmer for around 7 minutes or until the syrup thickens.
- Allow to cool slightly then pour over the lamb and serve.