Traditional Lamb Cake Recipe from Griswold Vintage Mold Insert

Now that Easter is not really so far off as we would imagine, if you remember lamb cakes from your childhood or are fortunate to have someone or a bakery make one now, you are very fortunate but you can easily learn to prepare one  yourself.  All you will need is a lamb cake mold  of your choice – new or used or antique.One famous mold is the Griswold 866 (no longer manufactured).  Ebay is a good source for the vintage Griswold mold manufactured by an Erie, PA company that is now defunct.  There is one for sale today for $149 or best offer and another at auction starting at $55.  You need to shop around.  Go to this page to learn more about the Griswold  molds and to know the ones from their line that are best.

NOTE:  You do not have to use the Griswold mold or any other cast iron mold.  Heavy aluminum is OK and good success is being experienced by people using the  lighter aluminum molds.  That gives you a range of prices and sources for molds.

Here are photos of my Griswold mold that I bought on eBay a few years ago, still in its original box.

The mold comes in two parts. The two parts are NOT attached

The back piece below has vent holes (see the one in the head).

There was an insert that came with this mold that had the recipe for the lamb cake.  These inserts, (like the one below) are sold on eBay but the internet has several sources for just the recipe.

Here is the classic recipe that came with the mold in an insert like the one pictured above in the purple frame.  This is from a wonderful site found here. It includes the recipe for the icing.  I can confirm as a former librarian that the text at this site and in my insert are identical.

The key to a successful lamb cake is a carefully seasoned mold.

Cast-iron baking molds must be seasoned before being used for the first time, and re-seasoned as necessary. This helps seal the pores of the metal to prevent sticking. Here is a larger picture of a well-seasoned cast-iron lamb mold.

  1. To season a brand-new cast-iron mold or pan, heat oven to 300 degrees. Thoroughly wash the cast-iron in hot, soapy water. Rinse and dry thoroughly. Apply a liberal coat of solid vegetable shortening to every nook and cranny. Place on a baking sheet, open side up, and heat 1 hour. Cool, pour off any remaining shortening, and wipe clean with a paper towel. DO NOT WASH!
  2. Before pouring in batter, using a pastry brush, apply solid vegetable shortening to every crevice and then flour. Tap out any excess flour. The mold is now ready to be filled. After unmolding the finished product, don’t wash, just wipe the interior with a paper towel and the exterior with a damp cloth.
  3. On subsequent uses of the mold, even though it has been seasoned, before pouring in the batter, the mold must re-greased and heated for 20 minutes at 375 degrees. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and pour off any accumulated shortening, cool, and re-grease and flour before pouring in the batter. See the instructions for Easter Lamb Cake recipe.
  4. To reseason a mold or pan that is starting to stick, repeat step 1.
  5. To reseason a rusty, old cast-iron mold, heat the oven to 275 degrees. Clean the pan very well, making sure to scrub off any dried/baked on food. Dry it thoroughly and coat liberally with solid vegetable shortening. Bake the pan in the oven for at least 15 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven and pour out the excess shortening. Then put the pan back in the oven for at least 2 more hours. Repeat this process at least twice, more if the pan was really rusty.
  6. DON’T DO THIS:
    • Don’t stack cast-iron molds or pans on top of each other. They will get scratched and lose their stick-free properties.
    • To avoid condensation and, therefore, rust, don’t store cast-iron molds or pans with their lids on.

Even if you never make or eat one of these cakes, the history of holiday baking molds is fascinating.

Eccles Cakes also Known as Coventry Godcakes and etc.

Traditions at Christmas in England  –

My maternal Great Grandmother was from Coventry, England in the Midlands.  Like any other region, they had their specialties.  Eccles cakes are a speciality from this region.  This recipe has been taken from a remarkable cookbook described under the tab “Browse Books.”

Good Things in England
Florence White
Jonathan Cape, 1932 (current edition published by Persephone Books

From the cookbook:

Eccles cakes, Banbury cakes, Coventry Godcakes, Hawkshead cake and Chorley cakes all belong to the same class. They consist of pastry, short or puff as the case may be, round in the case of Eccles and Chorley, which are much about the same size, and in the case of the Hawkshead cake which is as large as a plate; but at Coventry taking the form of an isosceles triangle, and at Banbury made in the oval shape of a rather wide shuttle.

Each and all are filled with a special mixture partaking of the character of the mincemeat we put in pies at Christmas time.

Here is a recipe for Eccles cakes. These have been made for the Eccles “wakes” from time immemorial. A pretty story is told about these cakes. It is said Mrs Raffald gave her own recipe as a wedding present to a servant girl who had served her well and was going to live at Eccles, and that the girl made and sold the cake so successfully that she made a fortune.

Bradburn’s, Eccles, today is advertised as “The only Old Original Eccles Cake Shop. Never removed. On the site of these Premises Eccles Cakes were first made. Rebuilt 1835.” [They are at any rate about the best I have tasted, and those sold at the old cottage opposite Eccles Cross where William Deacon’s Bank now stands were made and baked at Bradburn’s. The cottage had no ovens].

Recipe: Lancashire, 1904

Some short pastry
For the filling:
¼lb currants
1oz finely chopped peel
½ teaspoonful allspice and nutmeg
2oz sugar
1oz butter

Time: to heat and cool mixture about 20 to 30 minutes; to bake cakes 10 to 15 minutes in a hot oven.

1. Put all the ingredients for the mixture into a pan and heat for a few minutes, then turn into a basin to cool.

2. Roll out short pastry (this is nicest if made of lard) to about ¼ inch thickness.

3. Cut into rounds.

4. Place a good tablespoon of the mixture on each round.

5. Gather up the edges, turn over and press with rolling-pin into flat cake; make a hole in the centre of the top crust.

6. Place on baking sheet 10 to 15 minutes in a hot oven.

7. Sprinkle with castor sugar when cakes are cooked.

• These extracts are taken from Good Things in England by Florence White (Persephone, £10)

Grandpa’s Table: Breakfast At Our Adirondack “Camp” from SamHenry

My maternal great grandfather started going to this little gem of a Lake in the foothills of the Adirondacks before I was born.  His son, my grandfater, owned his first cottage in a fairly well-populated bay but found a heavenly parcel with three lots and government property ringing most of it.

The house dated from the turn of the last century and was buried in trees with tall grass.  Not much mowing and all natural.

My favorite view of the property - from the old flat-bottomed fishing boat.

Inside was plain, not winterized, with tongue and groove unpainted walls.  The furniture was about the same date as the house; the kitchen dishes were depression-era glass and cheap reproduction willow ware and deep blue glasses.  In short, these camps were filled with anything you didn’t want at your main house anymore.

Grandpa with an iron frying pan full of sunny side up fried eggs cooked in bacon grease.

I began my trips there my first year on the planet and they continued until the camp (cottage for non-Adirondack vacation homes) was sold following my grandfather’s death.  In later years, my grandfather, a doctor, was the chief cook.  He and my uncle cooked wonderful breakfasts.  There was no dishwasher, a refrigerator only instituted in the place after 1970 and just the most basic iron cookware.  Water piped in from a well and turned off and on using faucets replaced the pump on the counter next to the sink around the same time.

All dining table and cooking equipment was kept in tall metal cabinets that shut tight to protect them from the mice and bugs.  Shelves were lined with oil cloth and, unlike today, seemed effortlessly spaced for successful storage.

I loved going fishing with Grandpa – often for the entire day.  He made up some Grandma Brown’s Baked Bean sandwiches (canned beans made in Mexico, NY) and brought some pop and other unrefrigerated snacks for lunch.  This was before ice packs and coolers.  He was not good about minding my mother’s rules about candy.  He would give me a few pieces and say “now I want you to take one of these once every ten minutes and see if you don’t feel better.”  When she would complain, he would turn to her and say: “I don’t get cavities from eating candy.  I keep my teeth in a glass nights and they are fine.”  He was a tease and a character.

Grandma and Grandpa on their way to the camp next door that was owned by his roommate at medical school. That family still owns their camp. This is one of my all time favorite pictures albeit from an early Kodak Instamatic.

William And Harry’s Grandma’s Table(s)

Harry and William ride away from a child educationcenter in Lesotho, Africa 2010

No matter that you travel economy class in the air or by horse on the ground, Princes William and Harry of Great Britain cannot easily claim a casual lifestyle for their Grandma, Queen Elizabeth.

Recently, the Emir of  Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and his wife, Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned came for a three-day visit in the UK.  Qatar was a British protectorate until 1971 and Britain seeks closer ties with the kingdom in an attempt to woo new investors in the UK.  Queen Elizabeth pulled out all of the entertainment stops at Windsor Castle.  In the large hall that has been restored since a fire there, she served what seemed hundreds.

The Queen delivers a speech before the banquet

In 2008, the Queen opened up more of Buckingham palace to tourists and a special exhibit was devised focusing on banquets:

Buckingham Palace has been open to the public since 1993.

The ballroom is where the great state banquets are held – there have been 77 held there during the Queen’s reign and 97 in total (of the other 20, 18 were held at Windsor Castle in Berkshire and 2 at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh) – and [since 2009, the public have been] able to see the room as it is when it is laid for for such an occasion.

The popular monarch loves helping to set up the huge table’s layout – and she also helped to set up this display for the public.

This is the scene which has greeted foreign monarchs, presidents and prime ministers – the Buckingham Palace ballroom prepared for a state banquet.

Laid out are seats for 170, more than 2,000 pieces of polished silver-gilt cutlery, 1,104 glasses, 23 flower arrangements and 100 candles in candelabras.

The Palace’s ballroom has been decorated and the enormous dining table laid out with hundreds of pieces of tableware. [Daily Mail]

Behind the scenes preparations for a state banquet featuring staff walking on the table to light candles and make last minute adjustments.

An overview of the collection of flatware and etc. that are used at a banquet at Buckingham Palace where most have been held until recently when Prince Philip suggested Windsor.  This was shot during an exhibition at the Palace in 2008 that was open to the public:

St. Georges Hall, Windsor. Destroyed During a Fire in recent time, it is amazing that furnishings and paintings were not in place since the fire was the result of faulty wiring during remodeling. St. George is the patron saint of England.

Finally, enjoy reading about the most decadent royal banquet ever.  [Daily Mail]

Napkin Folding Spoken Here – From SamHenry

The beautiful Wye River Valley.

In the summer of 1966, my brother and I were tramping about Britain and we treated ourselves to a stay at the Chase Hotel, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire just because we drove past and liked how it looked!  Serendipity is the best travel planning guide.

We had no idea that its main restaurant was gourmet and had been awarded Britain’s highest honor, an AA Rosette. This inspired the owners to have napkins folded in the shape of a rose on each service plate at table.

My brother who fancied  himself a chef but was more often mistaken for one of the Beach Boys  at airports, was fascinated.  Soon he was getting up with the sun and wending  his sleepy way to the dining room to be educated in the mysteries of napkin folding.  He also satisfied his chef fantasy by ordering Steak Diane made at the table each of the four nights we were there until he had that down.

♣ Napkin folding

was practiced in the 18th and early 19th centuries in Europe and America by people in service who had entire guide books for the purpose to train them.

I found one – a fragile “paperback” in a used book store a few years back and bought it for my brother.  Now, through the magic of the internet, instructions formerly confined within such covers or to the memory of an aged grandmother or  an old flunky would have limited the instances of the art found on tables today.  Many of the old patterns may be found here.

The rosette – alone or with a cup of soup nestled in its center – is found below:

Rose napkin pattern

The Rose Napkin Fold

Despite looking fairly elaborate, this fold is an easy one, and it can be done with almost any variety of napkin. Display small bowls or glasses on top of these, or use them as novelty cocktail napkins.


Napkin Fold #1
1. Lay the napkin face-down in front of you.
Napkin Fold #2
2. Fold the two right corners of the napkin in so the tips rest at the center.
Napkin Fold #3
3. Fold the remaining two corners of the napkin in so the tips meet with the last two in the center.
Napkin Fold #4
4. Once again, begin folding the outer corners in so they meet at the center.
Napkin Fold #5
5. Once all of the tips are folded you are left with a square about 1/4 the size of the unfolded napkin.
Napkin Fold #6
6. Flip it over.
Napkin Fold #7
7. Fold the corners in so they meet in the center and then place something sturdy in the center, or hold it with your fingers.
Napkin Fold #8
8. While maintaining downward pressure in the center of the napkin, reach underneath each corner and pull out the flaps to create petals.
Napkin Fold #9
9. Remove the center weight and your rose should look as pictured here.
Finished Rose Napkin Fold
10. If you like you can reach underneath the center of each side and pull out a second set of petals to fancy it up some more. Place something in the center and you’re done, have a rosy meal!