March 23, 2016 // Local

Celebrating well: Lamb cake bakers take tradition to new level

By Jennifer Miller

For the past hundred years, the St. Adalbert’s Sisters’ Auxiliary has baked beautiful, handmade lamb cakes for Easter. For the past fifteen years, they hosted a bake sale to financially support their beloved Felician Sisters. From butter molds and mini bunny cakes to chili and a full Polish lunch, every dish and dessert is homemade by a loving volunteer. Saturday, March 19, they had a line out the door starting at 7:30 a.m.

Felician Sister Anthony helps out the St. Adalbert’s Sisters’ Auxillary frosting lamb cakes, which are made from a secret recipe.

What is traditionally an Easter treat in Polish communities, the lamb cake is actually one of a few Easter symbols.  Butter molds, of baby lambs or bunnies in modern times, also are popular. Connecting their family’s table of the domestic church with that of the parish’s altar of the Church, these lamb symbols were meant to subtly remind the faithful of what they just celebrated that Easter morning at Mass, the resurrection of Jesus, the Lamb of God.

“We were more of ham people, or sausage, rather than lamb, for the main meat of Easter dinner,” Sister Anthony explained, “so many of our traditions centered around the lamb décor, remembering Jesus.”

Keeping and carrying on the Polish traditions is truly an act of love. President of the Sisters’ Auxiliary, Elaine Sizemore personally bakes all of the cakes in her double ovens at her home, eight at a time, four in each oven. Her family, mother Theresa Zakowski and sisters, Diane and Linda, as well as long time volunteer Judy Plonski, organizes and energetically volunteers time and experience to this incredible undertaking. In fact it is Zakowski’s cake recipe that is used for the base of the lamb cake. It is an old fashioned pound cake, made from scratch, baked in a two-piece mold.  Sizemore and her young niece mix and pour the batter into the face side of the lamb mold and it rises while baking into the rump of the ‘animal.’ Each is then wrapped in plastic, numbered, and packed in plastic bins, until they are carried to the cafeteria and parish hall of St. Adalbert’s for frosting and decorating.

Shown here is a butter mold in the shape of a lamb. This is a Polish tradition that helps serve as a functional reminder at Easter dinner and as a spiritual reminder that Jesus is the Lamb of God.

Once there, groups of the Sisters’ Auxiliary come together for multiple evenings to complete the lamb cakes, box them and prepare for the sold out bake sale. Using Elaine’s personal frosting recipe that she developed from pastry school when she was fourteen, they cover the lamb cakes with beautiful pure white ‘furry’ coats. With a frosting tip and bag, they expertly and quickly frost each cake, attach to a base and decorate them. Raisins become the eyes and nose, a red hot candy is the mouth, green colored shredded coconut is the grass on which the lamb sits and colored jellybeans dot the grass like colored Easter eggs. Finally a red ribbon is tied around the neck and a flag, of the Risen Christ, is attached in the rump.  Traditionally Polish or Vatican flags were associated with the lamb cakes, but the sisters have always chosen the American flag to proudly wave on their lamb cakes. For a mere fifteen dollars, these homemade gems are a steal. Smaller bunny cakes are $4.50. This year they are only selling pre-orders. One year they made over 120 lamb cakes, with pre- and day of orders. This year they are creating seventy cakes for the bake sale.

Butter molds are the other “lamb” specialty that the Sisters’ Auxiliary offers. Both small and large sizes, in lamb or bunny shapes, are another unique tradition that can serve functionally and practically for the Easter dinner, as well as religiously as a reminder of the sacrifice of the mass just celebrated.  They are decorated with cloves for the eyes, a red ribbon around the neck and green coconut ‘grass’ and jellybeans.  Handmade in molds and frozen, they are a delightful and beautiful addition to one’s table.

One group of frosting volunteers, Sizemore, Joanne Eby and Barb Ginter, have gathered for years. They also enjoy the many social activities that the Sisters’ Auxiliary offers, especially the creative and popular bus trips.  They all joined, following their mothers’ example, as active members of St. Adalbert’s Parish and graduates of St. Adalbert’s School.

The Sisters’ Auxiliary is looking forward to the Easter season and welcomes any new, interested members. Contact President, Elaine Sizemore for more information.


* * *

The best news. Delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe to our mailing list today.