Make a Butter Lamb for Easter

If you've ever been to a state fair in dairy country, you may have seen professional butter sculptures of, say, likenesses of President Obama or Harry Potter. Impressive as these are, few of us become inspired to take a stick of butter and start whittlin'. But anyone can make a butter lamb, the edible sculpture that Polish, Russian, and Slovenian Catholics traditionally place on their Easter dinner tables.

In some parts of the country this time of year, you'll find ready-made butter lambs in mom-and-pop markets specializing in foods from Central or Eastern Europe. Or make your own, with this method for making one without a mold, by Chowhound Capn Ron. It's been modified a tad here to use a strainer for making the fur.

Capn Ron emphasizes that the butter must be at the proper temperature, somewhere between hard and soft. If it gets too soft while you're sculpting, pop it in the freezer to firm up a bit.

INGREDIENTS
• 1 pound salted butter
• 4 whole cloves

You'll need 1 small mesh strainer, the kind used for tea.

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Allow butter to soften on the plate you plan to display your lamb on. Keep checking until the butter is at the point when you can easily mold it into the shape of a lamb's body. Capn Ron uses two half-pound blocks of butter, then trims and shapes them with a knife till they look like this:

(Capn Ron suggests making the neck short; if you put the head on a long neck, your lamb can end up looking like a dog.)

2. Next, begin making the fur. Use the butter you shaved off while sculpting the body. It should be somewhat hard, so you'll need to chill it several times while working.

3. Push the butter through the strainer. Begin with the lamb's neck, carefully prying the fur off the bottom of the strainer with a paring knife, like this:

4. Once the whole body is covered with fur, place cloves for the eyes, nose, and one rear hoof.

Ta-dah! You're the proud sculptor of a butter lamb!

Image source: Capn Ron

Former CHOW contributor Joyce Slaton is an editor and writer in San Francisco. She takes her tea with sugar and milk and will sew you an apron if you ask nicely. Follow her on Twitter. Follow CHOW, too, and become a fan on Facebook.