Easter is approaching, and that means a somewhat cute, somewhat odd tradition will be making its way back into the kitchen: cakes shaped like baby animals.
What is so fascinating about lamb cake and its cuddly counterparts? For a lot of people, it’s the retro appeal of the molds and pans required to make them. These pans aren’t just kitchen tools—they’re also works of art.
Great cooking comes down to confidence
Two companies, Nordic Ware and Wilton, dominate the novelty cake pan industry. “The classic is Nordic Ware,” says Ruth Clark, founder of The Mid-Century Menu. Clark, who hosts an annual lamb cake contest on her retro recipes blog, says that lightweight pans are less expensive and easier to clean. However, a heavier cast pan is a better tool for beginners. “You don’t have to be as careful preparing it because they depan easier and weigh enough to keep themselves closed while baking,” she says. “With the lighter pan, you have to secure them closed.”
Before you get out the cake mix, though, a word of advice: Vintage and vintage-inspired molds hold around half a box of cake mix, which means a standing lamb will hold significantly less mix than a newer pan with a more cartoonish appearance, such as this one by Wilton, Clark says. If you’re using an older recipe with a newer pan, double the recipe.
Clark works with vintage pans, specifically her grandmother’s, and recommends searching for them secondhand. If you’d rather shop online, we’ve gone through and picked some out:
This Nordic Ware classic lamb pan is easy on the eyes and the wallet.
Nordic Ware Spring Lamb Cake Pan, $26.99, Kohl’s
If you prefer rabbits for Easter, consider Nordic Ware’s exclusive Easter Bunny instead.
Nordic Ware Easter Bunny Cake Pan, $39.95, Williams Sonoma
You can also go with a whole litter of baby bunnies with this pan.
Nordic Ware Baby Bunny Cakelet Pan, $38, Sur la Table
If you’re looking for something that’s more kid-friendly or just easier to use, go with one of Wilton’s pans.
Wilton Chick in Egg Cake Pan, $9.99, Ebay
Is this retired cake pan frightening? A little. But that makes it all the more valuable.
Wilton Gentle Lamb Cake Pan, $35.17, Amazon
This bunny pan comes with everything you need for decorating.
Wilton Easter Bunny Cake Baking and Decorating Set, 5-Piece, $19.19, Amazon
This large, hand-cast lamb cake pan costs a pretty penny, but it’s also good quality.
Kitchen Supply Large Lamb Cake Mold, $76.80, Amazon
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