My grandmother owned a genuine Polish Bakery. Easter was the biggest holiday of the year. As soon as you were considered "capable" you were enlisted in the preparation of the "baraneks" for Easter. These pound cakes made from lamb-shaped molds were baked mounted on iced and green-dyed coconut rectangle cardboard. The beginners working on this family tradition made the bows, placed the raisins for the lambs eyes and noses, and placed the flag of resurrection into the cake.
|Seasoned Antique Lamb Mold|
The scouring boy (the teenage male) selected to clean the pots, pans, tables, and floors of the actual baking area was put on over drive. He had to clean the molds and then have them greased and floured for the baker for the next baking day.
|Lamb Cake Just Out of Mold|
We thought that the entire world celebrated Easter the way our neighborhood in Chicago did. None of us ever took pictures of this phenomenon called the decorating of the lambs. We always thought that the bakery world always be there. It was when my mother sent me a lamb cake mold after my grandmother sold the bakery an era had ended. I realized that the preparation of the "baraneks" was passed on to me.
|Lamb Cake Waiting for Finishing Touches|
Each year during Holy Week, my heart and mind goes back to those days on 51st Street in Chicago. My mom, aunt, and grandmother have left this earth. My children are grown, but I make a "baranek" and think of the days and the hundreds of lamb cakes that brought the women in my family together to celebrate Spring, the promise of hope, the time of grace. When I make my "baranek" I am renewed. I feel like I am twelve and my mother is teaching me how to make my first "lamb cake."