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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Alsatian Lamb Cake




This sweet little lamb is sure to add charm to any Spring dinner. Made in a traditional pottery mold, the Lamala is an Easter treat in Alsace.

We recently received a case of interesting Alsatian pottery, made by local artisans in the Soufflenheim area, known for pottery and hop-growing. According to Wikipedia, "The forested area of Northern Alsace has been used as a pottery since the Bronze Age." And there were three Bronze Ages, from  3300–1200 BC.  Even the most recent one was a very, very long time ago.


Lambs have a long history of symbolic significance: the Paschal lamb has meaning for both Judaism and Christianity. It also has an older meaning, as a sacrificial lamb. I wonder at what point the potters figured out how to make this clever split pottery mold:


When this mold arrived, it was in one piece, not split. There was a deep score inside, but the bisque exterior was intact. There was a metal spring clamp on one end, holding it safely together.  The strange legs permit you to bake the cake upright:



One tap on the counter, and it separated nicely in two:



The traditional recipe for the Lamala is a bit odd, as it has no milk and no butter. The resulting cake is somewhat like a pizzelle, in that it takes on the fine details of the mold. Actually, according to Wikipedia, pizzelle "is known to be one of the oldest cookies, and is believed to have developed from the ancient Roman crustulum."

A Crustulum.  Of course. So it seems that all over ancient Europe, people were eating waffles cooked in these various forms. Too bad they didn't have Vermont Maple Syrup.  

 I made the lamb with the traditional recipe, flavored with lemon and kirsch, but I have plans to make a spongecake version, and a brioche version. So this is really Alsatian Lamb Cake 1.0

Alsatian Lamb Cake, or Osterlamm

Ingredients

3 eggs
90 g. sugar
100 g. sifted cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Zest of 1/2 of a lemon
1 Tablespoon Kirsch

Butter and flour for the mold


Process
  1. Separate the mold, butter liberally, and put the mold together again. Apply flour to the interior of the mold, then shake out.
  2. Heat oven to 350F. Beat the eggs and sugar in an electric mixer with whisk attached, for 10 minutes.  The mixture will be very pale and light.


  3. Combine the flour and baking powder in a small bowl. Sift completely.
  4. In the electric mixing bowl, first add the lemon juice, zest, and Kirsch. Then fold in the flour/baking powder, very gently. (This step is why the sifting is very important for this recipe.)

    If you don't have a microplane grater like this one, you need one.

  5. When combined, put half the very light mixture in the prepared mold, and tap several times on the counter to drive the batter into the details of the mold. Then fill with the rest of the batter.



  6. Place on a rimmed pan (so it doesn't accidentally slide off while you're putting it in the oven), and bake at 350F for 35 minutes. It should be golden on top and somewhat puffed.
    Remove from the oven, take off the clamp, and carefully divide the mold. The cake should release easily. 

    Cool the cake on a rack, then plate it and dust with powdered sugar.



  7. Serve, and start another batch!




    =========================

    And thanks to Heidi, for ordering all this pottery.





4 comments:

  1. Hi,

    I have bought a cake mold such as yours. Today I tried to make the cake. Recipe is similar to yours but I shall try yours next. My cake split in two when I tried to gently unmold it. Now there is crusty cake dough stuck all over the inside of the mold. My instructions said not to ever wash it, just to wipe it clean. Hah! Any suggestions?
    Ellen

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have a lamalla mold that I bought when I lived in the Alsace several years ago. Most of the French recipes that I have read say to let the cake cool in the mold just a little--if it completely cools, it will stick to the inside. So separate the mold gently while the cake is still warm. I often use wooden shish kabob skewers to help separate it. My unfortunate mold, though, leaks a bit (it was a second at the pottery manufacturer) so I have to seal the seam with a thick flour paste before I pour the batter in.
    Bon appétit!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have a lamalla mold that I bought when I lived in the Alsace several years ago. Most of the French recipes that I have read say to let the cake cool in the mold just a little--if it completely cools, it will stick to the inside. So separate the mold gently while the cake is still warm. I often use wooden shish kabob skewers to help separate it. My unfortunate mold, though, leaks a bit (it was a second at the pottery manufacturer) so I have to seal the seam with a thick flour paste before I pour the batter in.
    Bon appétit!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Greer,
      Thank you so much! This has been a difficult aspect of the mold, and with your advice I think I'll try it again this year! Maybe this weekend.
      Best Regards,
      Sue

      Delete

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