For the May challenge Marcellina from Marcellina in Cucina dared us to make Lamingtons. An Australian delicacy that is as tasty as it is elegant
When I first hosted in December 2012 our culinary journey took us to Italy as we baked Panettone. On this occasion I would like to introduce you to one of my all time favourites – the Lamington. The classic Australian Lamington is a cube of vanilla sponge cake dipped in chocolate icing then coated with desiccated coconut. Sounds simple but it is delicious! It is said that the cakes were named after Lord Lamington who was the Governor of Queensland, Australia from 1896 to 1901. Stories abound as to why the cakes came about. I like the one that tells of Lord Lamington’s maid-servant accidentally dropping a freshly baked sponge cake into some melted chocolate. Apparently Lord Lamington disliked wastage so he suggested coating the chocolate coated cake in desiccated coconut to avoid messy fingers. A good idea, I think. Some New Zealanders actually like to claim the Lamington as their creation! However the Lamington came to be, it is now firmly embedded in the Australian culture. Sold in bakeries, cafés, supermarket, at bake sales and everywhere you expect and don’t expect. The Lamington is also a star at fund-raisers with “Lamington Drives” very popular with schools, sporting clubs and many other fund-raising ventures.
Usually the cake within the Lamington is a vanilla genoise sponge made by whipping eggs and sugar
until very thick and pale. Flour (in my recipe cornflour otherwise known as cornstarch) is sifted well with baking powder and is very carefully and delicately but thoroughly folded into the eggs and sugar. A little bit of melted butter can be folded in at the end. This is optional but does add a bit of moisture to the cake. This cake is quite prized in Australia for being of a light and fluffy texture and a good sponge cake baker is highly regarded. The sponge is a little difficult to master but the key is a light hand, accurate measuring, room temperature eggs, and knowing just how long to bake it. Oh, and don’t open the oven door to peak or your cake will flop.
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) castor (superfine) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups (300 ml) (200 gm) (7 oz) cornflour (cornstarch)
1 ½ teaspoons (8 gm) baking powder
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) butter, melted (optional)
2¾ cups (660 ml) (250 gm) (9 oz) unsweetened desiccated coconut, to assemble
2. Prepare a 4 ½ cm (1¾ inch) deep, 23cm x 33cm (9”x 13”) baking pan by lining with non-stick paper.
3. In a stand mixer bowl place eggs, sugar and salt. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high for 15
4. While the eggs and sugar are beating sift the cornflour and baking powder at least 3 times.
5. After 15 minutes add vanilla and beat on high for another 5 minutes. The mixture should have at
least tripled in size, be light in colour and very foamy.
6. Sift flour mixture over the egg mixture. I like to use a whisk but you can also use a large metal
spoon to lightly fold the flour in. Some people like to use a wooden spoon but I find it too heavy.
Heavy handling now will result in a flat tough sponge. If you are using butter, thoroughly fold it in
now but lightly.
7. Spread mixture into your prepared pan and smooth out evenly. Some cooks at this stage drop the
pan onto the bench top to even out the air bubbles! I have never had that much courage!
8. Bake in preheated moderate oven for 22-25 minutes. The sponge will rise quite a lot but then settle
back down. Don’t be tempted to open the oven to peak. I also warn the family to walk gently past the
oven! When baked the sponge will have shrunk very slightly from the sides and should feel springy
when pressed gently.
To assemble the Lamingtons:
Cut the sponge cake into 24 rectangular pieces – 6 across and 4 down. To be particular you can trim
Keep the icing over the hot water to keep it melted. Place desiccated coconut in a shallow bowl.
Dip each piece into the chocolate icing, allow excess to drip off
Toss gently into the coconut.
Stand cakes on a wire rack to set, about 2 hours.