For many Buffalonians, a butter lamb or two has been an iconic figure at the Easter dinner table for generations. (It certainly was for mine!) Have you really known a true Easter until you’ve been scolded by an elder for slicing into one the “wrong” way and then arguing why starting with the head is crueler than the tail?
When Jason Wulf and Erik Bernardi, co-owners of Lake Effect Ice Cream, started making ice cream at home on a whim in 2007, they never imagined coming up with the “next generation’s butter lamb.”
“Easter desserts are kind of weird. You know what you’re going to have at Thanksgiving but what about Easter?” said Wulf.
The duo had already built a reputation for championing local flavors and ingredients in their small-batch confections. Lake Effect sources all of its milk and cream from farms upstate, and often collaborates with resident talent including Public Espresso + Coffee and Platter’s Chocolates to craft crowd-pleasing flavors like their coffee and sponge candy ice creams, respectively.
“It’s one of those things, we always really pride ourselves on being very Buffalo-centric with our ice cream.”
And “very Buffalo” is exactly what Wulf and Bernardi scooped up with the creation of their butter lamb ice cream cake for last year’s Easter season. Wulf’s wife sparked the idea for the playful dessert by suggesting a butter lamb flavored ice cream.
Mirroring Broadway Market’s famous Malczewski butter lambs, Lake Effect’s sweet, frozen version starts with a specially created butter ice cream, made with a butter extract. The ice cream is shaped in large lamb figure molds imported from Germany. Once hardened and topped with a vanilla frosting, the butter lamb ice cream cake is appropriately finished with a red Alleluia flag and, of course, the red neck ribbon.
This sweet, frozen spin on the Easter classic was an instant hit: Lake Effect received over 1,000 preorders for the new dessert last year before declaring it sold out. The cake, which is preorders only, is expected to be eagerly scooped up once again—with butter ice cream also returning to the daily lineup at both the Lockport and Hertel locations, the latter of which reopened for the season in March.
For customers like MaryLou Towlson Simmons Lemkuil, the butter lamb ice cream cake was a welcome evolution at her Easter table—one she hopes will continue to be a tradition for her family for years to come. “I thought it was so cool to actually take it a step beyond the butter lamb” she says. “I’m just thinking that this may appeal to more of the younger generation.”
“Butter lambs are made all across the country and I know, for us, it’s been something important to this area,” says Wulf. And while the butter lamb’s symbolism is actually quite serious, representing the “blood of Christ,” Lake Effect hopes their ice cream cake version will give Buffalonians a new Easter staple to slice into. “We hope ours becomes part of the fabric of Buffalo.”
These five specialty desserts will be sure to end your Easter dinner or Seder on a (sugar) high note.
Chrusciki | Chrusciki Bakery
A classic polish Easter dessert, these “angel wings” are made from sour cream fried dough topped with powdered sugar. Place an order at their Lancaster or Buffalo location.
Marble Chiffon Cake | Nissan’s Kosher Deli
Tender, airy and gluten-free, this dessert is a perfect end to any Seder meal. The kosher-for-Passover marble chiffon cake from Nissan’s Kosher Deli, located inside Tops Friendly Markets on Maple, are imported specially from Brooklyn.
Mama D Bread | DiCamillo Bakery
The pani di pasqua, or Italian Easter bread, is soft with just the right amount of sweet and lightly flavored with whole anise seed. Orders are available with or without the colorful egg center.
Chocolate Decadence | Ohlson’s Bakery
This rich, gluten-free flourless chocolate cake features layers of chocolate mousse, all covered in chocolate ganache. You’ll certainly want to order the large.
Carrot Cake | Dessert Deli
Every bunny loves a carrot cake and Dessert Deli’s version is deliciously made with walnuts, pineapple and cream cheese filling, topped with cream cheese icing. Available in small or large.