The Igel Has Landed

by Eleanor Oliver
(Washington, D.C.)

Our Igel gathering his Easter Eggs

Our Igel gathering his Easter Eggs

We made an Igel every year for Easter Sunday Dessert with my mother who came to the country in 1923. Now I make it with my grandchildren.

IGEL (Hedgehog) Spring/Easter No-bake Cake

  • ½ lb. ladyfingers (more or less)I used fresh ladyfingers. There are also dry ladyfingers at WholeFoods
  • Light rum, brandy or similar moistener  
  • 1 recipe Mocha Butter Cream (see below) Use the Mocha Cream to stack the ladyfingers to construct the Igel
  • ½ recipe Chocolate Butter Cream (see below) Use the Chocolate Cream to cover the outside of the Igel 
  • ¼ pound toasted slivered, blanched almonds or Chocolate curls. I always use the almonds since I'm not so good at chocolate curls.
  • 2 seedless raisins.

Spread the slivered almonds on a cookie sheet and toast them in a 350º oven for a few minutes.  Don't over toast.
Put down a thin smear of buttercream on the center of the platter to prevent the ladyfingers from slipping around on the platter.
Starting with a single oval-shaped layer, mound the ladyfingers on top of each other to form an oval, half-domed "body".  Moisten each ladyfinger with a splash of rum before covering with the buttercream and beginning the second layer.  (I used a turkey baster and it was the most efficient system so far.)  Use the Mocha buttercream between the ladyfingers.  Broken pieces of cake can be used to fill in small spaces.  Three layers of ladyfingers should be enough. Don't forget to create the snout by turning one cookie sideways so that it sticks out a bit.
Spread top and sides with Chocolate Butter Cream creating a smooth oval body with a little nose sticking out one end.
Stick slivered almonds into the body for quills, use raisins for eyes  Serves 6
(or more)


  • ½ cup unsalted butter, well creamed
  • 3½ cups confectioners' sugar (1 lb. box) sifted
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon milk, if necessary

Cream butter until fluffy. Beat in sugar, salt and egg yolk until thick and creamy. Add milk if necessary
Flavor with one of the following flavorings or tint w/food coloring.  Makes 2 ½ cups

1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
2 teaspoons strong coffee (ideal for Igel)
4 oz. bitter chocolate melted in 2 tablespoons water and cooled (use for Igel)
2 teaspoons rum or cognac
3 Tablespoons Pralin or pistachio nuts

For the Half recipe of Chocolate Butter Cream:

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • scant 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • generous pinch of salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon milk or heavy cream, more if necessary to make a slightly more spreadable icing.

spread a little mocha buttercream on the platter around the edge of the Igel and press shredded coconut into it which has been dyed bright green with food coloring.  Stick a few jelly beans into the "grass"  or scatter them around the platter.  To keep them from rolling around, stick them to the platter with a dab of icing. 

They have reduced the number of ladyfingers in the package these days.  In the past, there have been enough extra Ladyfingers to make a little baby Igel which I placed on the platter next to the "mommy" Igel facing in the opposite direction. I also revered the icings, using the chocolate to shape the body and the mocha to frost the outside.  Then placed the quills and raisins.  Cut in half length-wise it made 2 more servings. There will be more than enough icing and almonds leftover for the baby igel.

Comments for The Igel Has Landed

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Easter Igel
by: Gerhild

Eleanor, I love your submission to our Easter Contest. There are still a couple of weeks to go in the contest, but this is certainly a fantastic recipe.

Sounds so easy. Looks so pretty. I normally think of the usual "Easter" animals: lamb, chicks, bunny. An Igal, how unusual, yet how fitting. So German!

Thanks for submitting. Keep watch for the announcement of the winner.


And for children?
by: Gerhild

Hi Eleanor,

What moistener do you use if this cake is for children? I'm assuming that you don't use rum in that case.


Moisture for the Igel
by: Anonymous

We use rum. The alcohol is pretty much evaporated leaving only the flavor. One year we used a vanilla flavoring but it made the whole cake too cloyingly sweet.

by: Niels

Hey thanks for this. I got my dad to make it once for me as a child when I saw it in one of his old Austrian cook books, but the ones he made were individual servings. Didn't know people would make them that big.

by: harald

My mother used to make this cake.Hers was more basic.It was shaped into a loaf with slivered almonds on top that had been prepared in a pan with butter & sugar.I will have to try this recipe though.

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