Special equipment: Three 6-inch cake pans A plastic piping bag A multi-opening decorating tip such as Wilton 233 (optional) Toothpicks A black edible marker or black candies and edible pink luster dust (optional)
For the moist vanilla cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 6-inch cake pans with the butter. Combine the flour, granulated sugar, dry milk and baking powder in a large bowl. Mix well with a whisk until the dry ingredients are combined. While mixing on low with an electric mixer, add the oil, sour cream, vanilla extract and eggs. Lastly, add the instant pudding while simultaneously adding the warm water. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Divide the batter among the prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, 22 to 25 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool to room temperature before moving on. For the buttercream frosting: Beat the butter for a few minutes on medium speed, preferably using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. On slow speed, gradually add the confectioners' sugar 1 to 2 cups at a time, allowing each batch of sugar to incorporate with the butter before adding the next. (Use less confectioners' sugar for a slightly more buttery, looser frosting, or more confectioners' sugar for a slightly sweeter, stiffer frosting.) Increase the speed to medium and add the vanilla extract, cream and salt. Beat for an additional 3 minutes. To decorate: Before you start, fill a plastic piping bag with frosting. If you have a multi-opening decorating tip, insert that into the end of the piping bag before adding the frosting. If not, just cut a very small hole at the end of the bag to allow the air to escape as you fill it. Tie the bag with a rubber band to close. Add the leftover frosting to a bowl. Since you will need only 2 of your 3 cakes to start, set 1 cake aside for later. Step 1: Cut 2 of the cakes in half from top to bottom to make 4 half-circles. Leave 2 of the half-circle pieces as is and carve the rounded top off the other 2 pieces using a serrated knife to make them level. Step 2: Set the pieces together on a cake plate cut-sides down with the 2 level pieces in the center and the rounded pieces at each end with the rounded sides facing outward. With a spatula, add a light layer of frosting in between each piece. Step 3: Next, frost the entire cake. Don't worry about frosting it perfectly, as this layer will be covered up with more frosting later. Place the cake in the fridge to allow the frosting to set for at least 15 minutes. Step 4: While your cake is setting, use a serrated knife to carve off the darker thin exterior layer from the reserved third cake so that the cake is an even lighter color all around. Put the cake in a bowl and mix with a fork until it turns into fine crumbs. Add 2 to 3 large spoonfuls of frosting to the crumbs and continue to mix. Make sure you add enough frosting so that the mixture is pliable and able to be molded without crumbling. To test this, form a ball with the mixture in your hands. If it cracks, you need to add more frosting. Step 5: With your hands, mold the following: 1 large, rounded oval shape (the head), 2 small, pointed oval pieces (the ears) and 4 small oval pieces (the legs). Step 6: Attach the leg pieces to the body of the lamb, 2 at the front and 1 at each side. Use a small dab of frosting to secure the pieces in place.
Next, add a dollop of frosting to the back of the head and place it atop the cake, positioning the head at an angle. Add 2 toothpicks to the head piece to help hold it in place. Add a small dab of frosting on each side of the head for the ear pieces. If your head doesn't feel stable atop the body, add a thin layer of frosting around the side of the head for extra reinforcement. Place the cake back in the fridge for at least 10 minutes to allow the molded pieces to set into the frosting. Step 7: Next, pipe the frosting for the hair onto the cake, covering the body of the lamb and adding frosting around the top of the head. Use short, quick motions to pipe 1/4-inch-long sections of frosting onto the cake. You want your frosting to be semi-stiff. If the frosting becomes too warm, it can start to appear a bit runny. If this happens, just place your piping bag back in the fridge for a few minutes to allow it to cool. Step 8: Use a toothpick to add facial details. Use a black edible marker or 2 small black candies for the eyes. If you have it, use just a touch of edible pink luster dust for the cheeks and any other accents you'd like.
The recipe makes a large batch of frosting to accommodate the lamb decorating and assembly.
Recipe courtesy of Alana Jones-Mann