Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Memories, Old and New

I have many happy childhood memories surrounding Easter. Thanks, Mom and Dad! For example, when I was in elementary school, my parents and my brothers and I would pile into the family car go to "the country" to spend Easter with my grandmother, who lived in a small town about ninety miles away from our suburban St. Louis home. We colored eggs for the Easter bunny to hide and had massive egg hunts on her beautiful grounds on Easter morning. We helped ourselves to chocolate from our overflowing baskets while Grandmother cooked breakfast: eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy and several varieties of handmade jellies and preserves. And after we had stuffed ourselves and the breakfast dishes were done, Grandmother resumed the dinner preparations, begun days ahead of time. 

The fabulous meal always ended with a lamb cake. I hadn't thought about that in years, but it came back to me during a phone conversation with my friend Peggy last week. No, a lamb cake is not some sort of meatloaf-esque concoction made from ground lamb. It is a white cake, baked in a lamb shaped mold, frosted with white icing and festooned with coconut. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to make a lamb cake this year. But I don't have a lamb cake mold. I wonder what happened to Grandmother's. Anyway, I am sad to say that, although I went to several stores and checked numerous websites, I was unable to secure a lamb cake mold in time to bake a cake for my family's Easter dinner. 

Grandmother coloring Easter eggs, 1972.

Instead, I settled for a Nordic Ware shortcake basket pan (click HERE). I love strawberry shortcake, but I have never been crazy about those spongy yellow shortcakes they sell at the grocery store. Have you ever read the list of ingredients on the package? But I adore their shape, perfect for holding lots of berries and whipped cream, so this pan seemed like a way to make the quintessential springtime dessert something really special.

Following the recipe that came with the pan, I whipped up the batter and divided it equally among the six ornate baskets.

 Ready to pop into the oven

Still following the directions, I baked them for eighteen minutes, allowed them to cool for ten - and then was unable to remove them from the pan. They were completely unsalvageable. Instead of six beautiful shortcakes, I had an ugly pile of cake crumbs. And a cake pan that was very difficult to clean.

What I learned was when a cake recipe says "grease and flour pans" it doesn't mean "spray with nonstick cooking spray." Usually I get away with that; this time I didn't. Too upset to take a picture, I sent Casey to the grocery store for a small can of Crisco while I made a second batch of batter. And I am happy to report that after I greased the pans with Crisco and floured them - generously, I might add - and baked the shortcakes as before, the results were perfect.

 This is more like it.

Obviously, the pans overflowed the molds a bit; when I make the recipe again, I will add a little less batter to each cup. I proposed trimming away the excess, but nobody wanted me to waste that delicious cake. Also, my brother said the cakes looked like monkey hats. How could I destroy the monkey hats?

So I set the cakes aside, sugared the strawberries, tossed the fruit salad, put the ham in the oven, got the green beans to simmering, made the potato casserole, and set the table.

 These beautiful tulips made a perfect centerpiece. Thanks, Cindy!

Eric and Donna arrived with broccoli salad and dinner rolls. Finally, everything was on the table and it was time to eat.

My family seated around Grandmother's dining room table.

The piece de resistance.

Everyone I love wasn't able to be with me today. But I am thankful for those who were, and thankful for all the wonderful memories of Easters past. I hope you made some memories today. Happy Easter!


Melanie Rickmar said...

Pam, I found some lamb cake molds on Amazon --

Pam Asberry said...

Hey Melanie -
Thanks for the link. I found several sources online, but nobody had them in stock, and there was no way I could get one here in time to bake the cake TODAY. But you can be sure I will be ready NEXT year!
Thank you for reading! :-)

Cindy said...


Nice Easter Day! Memories are fun and what keep us going at times. Thank you for sharing your day and your childhood memories. I mostly enjoyed the photo of your grandmother. It reminded me of my childhood years as well.


Pam Asberry said...

Cindy, my grandmother was an amazing woman. Glad my photo and post brought up some happy memories for you, too.

Eric Asberry said...

Those were some GREAT rolls! The rest of it was pretty good, too.

I'm just a little sad that I didn't get to try a monkey hat. Oh, well. Maybe next year!

Pam Asberry said...

NEXT year, Eric, there will be a lamb cake. But you can come over anytime for strawberry shortcake!

KendallGrey said...

Oh, that strawberry shortcake looks divine! When you mentioned the lamb cake thing, it sparked some similar memories for me. Seems like someone in my family made something similar when I was growing up. The white frosting and coconut sounds awfully familiar...

Thanks for sharing your Easter memories. It brought back some good ones for me too. :-)

Pam Asberry said...

Well, Kendall, you'll just have to come over and have some strawberry shortcake with me one of these days! Glad I brought back some happy memories for you. That's what holidays are for!

Julee said...

Thanks for sharing happy memories and I loved the picture of your grandma! Everything sounded yummy.

Mine didn't go so successfully. I burnt the cheesy cabbage dish that was the only request for Easter dinner at my in-laws' house! Ah, well. My in-laws' wedding anniversary is in a few weeks and we'll try again then. Take care!

Pam Asberry said...

Well, Julee, these things happen. I was just grateful I had time for do-overs with the shortcakes. Hopefully things will go better for you next time!

1001 Secrets of Successful Writers said...

Hey! What a meal! Better even than 'devouring a good book'. Small pun, there. Keep writing! Darrell.

Pam Asberry said...

LOL, Darrell! Thank you for stopping by!

S.M. Carrière said...

What a lovely spread! Those strawberry shortcakes look absolutely delicious.... Nicely done.

Pam Asberry said...

Thanks, S.M.! I wish you could come over and have one with me. We would have a lot to talk about over strawberry shortcakes and tea! Maybe one of these days...