Signs of spring

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I spent an hour in Czech Village this morning as a judge for the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library's 2nd Annual Lamb Cake contest.

For those who don't know this, the lamb cake is a Czech and Slovak Easter tradition. It began when many people couldn't afford to serve lamb for Easter dinner, so they made a cake in the shape of a lamb instead.

The lamb often symbolizes Christ's sacrifice, which is why families want to include it in some way with their Easter meal.

Seven cakes were entered in this year's competition with three judges determining the winner based on appearance.

It was interesting to see the different takes on the cakes. All were shaped as a lamb, of course, in varying sizes, but it was the decorations that really drew the eye. Some embraced the spring theme, others Easter and one took a hilarious presentation, presenting the cake in a roasting pan, surrounded by a jar of mint jelly, potatoes and plastic carrots. The coconut decorating the cake was toasted in some places to give the illusion of cooked lamb.

This cake took second in the competition. The winning cake was baked and decorated by Vicki Thompson of Marion.

This was Thompson's first year entering the contest.

"It's part of my heritage," she says.

Thompson spent a few days on her cake, which is a pound cake with buttercream frosting. Choosing the decorations and finding a way to tie them together was the toughest part of the project.

"Having grandkids, I wanted to include the Easter baskets and candy because that's what they look for when they visit," she laughs.

Thompson won a $50 gift certificate to the  National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library's gift shop.


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