We pulled away in our VW heading for a church, bearing the Paschal Lamb Cake with a silver aluminum halo, encircled by paper grass and Easter eggs filled with candy. We planned to take it to church for fellowship [coffee time]. Arriving before the Worship Service, in the parking lot a woman took it inside. When the pews emptied, a hundred parishioners stood in small groups chatting noisily.
No one had the usual coffee cups with biscuits. Against the back wall I spotted our lamb cake, small and lonely alongside a bowl of flowers. A young girl gazed at it while I told her tall father that I had baked the cake. “I’ll tell somebody to come over,” he said looking across the talking heads, “we should photograph this.” Close by, I saw another woman holding a bag of bagels. “Did you bring food, too?” I asked. “Oh no,” she replied, ‘these are leftover from breakfast,” she added, ‘I see you brought a cake. That’s too bad, because today we won’t have coffee time –. I’m so sorry.”
“Maybe the children would like to see it,” I said, “they are welcome to take it home.” The mother of three kids overheard me say this and she walked over to the table. At the sight of the lamb cake her three children pressed in to take a closer look. Then the eldest lady with white hair admired it, too. I suggested they could cut it. “I’ll get some plates,” said their mother. She left and returned with a knife and spatula then she cut the cake, passed slices to the children and word got around. It just caught on like that; I wondered how many pieces she could get. Smiles came back to us; Barney talked to folks in the center of a circle. I explained that the mold was 100-years old; one man joked, “This cake is pretty good for 100 years old!” “Delicious,’ said the minister’s wife who forked it quickly and said, “Hmmm. I love this, thank you!”
I enjoyed watching everyone eat. If I’d had a dozen cakes in boxes, I would have sold them right there. Drawn to the white haired lady, I heard her say her name then, “I was raised in this church and my grandparents lived here all of their lives.” Her soft tranquil gray eyes looked directly into mine. Her face expressed something compelling me to listen: honesty, perhaps. “This room was the original church …” she said. I saw the amazingly calm transformation happening around us, from nothing to something. We were the “innovation” Barney later said. When the cake was gone — before our tray was washed, I tasted a crumb – “delicious.”
Within minutes the children had eaten the cake: they trusted us although we were strangers. No one asked us questions. No reservations, i.e. “Do you belong here?” That was the best. Nobody really cared about my grandmother’s story or how many lambs she baked. The pastor’s wife told me she had inherited crockery bowls, and we both agreed that “they ring like bells when tapped.” The mold fell into my hands. That’s how children inherit truth… and faith in divine love.
This Easter pound cake is baked in a 100-year old cast iron Griswold mold given to me by my maternal Czech grandmother, Eva Otradovec. This is how I bring into focus the love of a very kind lady each spring by using it, I renew learning about her simplicity and kindness towards her neighbors as she gave many cakes away — and I repeat that gesture.
1/2 cup butter
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups organic sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
3 eggs (separated)
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup of milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla
Cream the shortening, add organic sugar gradually. Cream it well. Beat the egg yolks separately, then add the dry ingredients which have been sifted together with the milk. Fold in beaten egg whites .. pour the batter into the mold and place toothpicks into the ears and nose and neck.
We have prepared the mold for use, washing it, and wipe dry set on a hot stove. Apply a good coating of coconut oil, preferred fat or spray to both inside and outside of the mold.