Czech Easter is connected to many traditions, which manifest themselves mostly in the kitchen. The Easter is preceded by a long period of fasting, and many special treats are eaten during the Easter holidays. One of them is Easter lamb cake.
What Is Czech Easter Lamb Cake?
It’s a sweet pound cake, baked in a mold, which is shaped like a lamb.
The lamb cake is decorated in various ways. It may be glazed with melted chocolate, or it can have raisins as its eyes. Sometimes it´s just dusted over with icing sugar.
Very often, a nice bow in spring colors is tied around the lamb’s neck.
Czech Easter lamb cake is baked on Holy Saturday (Bílá sobota, White Saturady in Czech), and in the past it was brought into church to be blessed by a priest.
This blessing procedure was similar to those associated with other Czech Easter ritualistic foods like mazanec.
Why Is Beránek Baked at Easter?
For Christians who remember the Easter as the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, a lamb symbolizes purity and innocence. Because of this, a living lamb used to be sacrificed and eaten as a ritual meal in the Czech Republic.
However, most Czech people were poor, especially in the countryside, and therefore beránek turned into the sweet cake as we know and love now.
What Ingredients Are Needed to Make Czech Easter Lamb Cake?
Because it’s a pound cake, you’ll need these ingredients:
- Butter, unsalted, softened at room temperature
- Sugar, granulated
- Whole eggs, at room temperature
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Lukewarm milk
- Lemon zest, grated, for an even better flavor
You’ll also need butter and breadcrumbs to grease and dust the mold.
Where to Get an Easter Lamb Mold?
In the past, the lamb mold was a part of every Czech household’s kitchenware. They were usually either heavy cast iron or made of ceramics. Daughters inherited them from their mothers.
Today, these old molds make quite nice museum pieces.
You can buy new and modern lamb molds in the stores or online. They’re usually ceramic or silicon.
If you use a cast iron or a ceramic mold, take the lamb out of the oven immediately once it’s baked, as the lamb continues ‘baking’ in the hot mold and is taken out of it once it’s cold.
Grease the Lamb Mold Thoroughly
Grease the entire mold really thoroughly, including every little wrinkle. Use butter for greasing. After that, dust the mold with sieved breadcrumbs.
This way the lamb will not stick to the mold and it will be easy to take it out when it’s baked. The lamb cake will also have all the nice details on its surface.
Here, in the Czech Republic, we also use coarse flour for dusting of baking pans. This flour is called “hrubá mouka”, but I’m afraid that it´s hard to buy it abroad.
1 Quick Success Tip
All the pound cake ingredients have to be at room temperature (not cold!). Let all the cold ingredients warm up to room temperature before beginning. The milk should be lukewarm to warm, but not hot.
If the ingredients have different temperatures, the fat will separate and the dough will contain small lumps. Pound cake can then shrink and it won’t rise.
If that happens, place the bowl with the batter into warm water and beat the mixture with an electric mixer at low speed, until the batter is creamy and all the ingredients are well mixed.
Velikonoční Beránek – Czech Lamb Easter Cake
- 3 cup (460 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 sticks (220 g) butter unsalted, softened at room temperature
- 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
- 5 whole eggs at room temperature
- 13 Tbsp milk lukewarm
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp lemon zest grated
- pinch of salt
- butter and sifted breadcrumbs for greasing and dusting the mold
- Heat up the oven to 320 °F (160 °C).
- Grease the mold with butter thoroughly, then dust with sifted breadcrumbs.
- Mix the flour in a separate bowl with the baking powder and a pinch of salt.
- Meanwhile, beat the softened butter and sugar in a different bowl. Use an electric mixer set to low or medium speed, add the sugar gradually. The butter and sugar should form a light foam, it should take about 5 minutes.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until the yolk disappears. Use a hand mixer set to low speed.
- Add the grated lemon zest.
- Fold in the prepared flour with a spatula.
- Pour the batter into the greased and dusted mold and let it bake for 1 hour.
- When you think the lamb is baked, stick in a wooden skewer. If it’s dry after being taken out, the lamb is finished. If raw batter is sticking to the skewer, bake the lamb for an additional 10 minutes.
- Let the lamb cool down in its mold and take it out when it’s cool.
- When the lamb has cooled-down, dust it with icing sugar and decorate its neck with a bow.