Happy Australia Day! Although lamingtons have an iconic status in Australia and are enjoyed throughout the year, it seems rather fitting to make lamingtons for Australia Day.
Lamingtons are quite popular at bake sales, and anyone growing up in Australia will know of the lamington drives, a fundraising event (usually in schools) where lamingtons would be sold by the half dozen to raise money for charity.
Traditionally made from a sponge cake, coated in a chocolate sauce and then rolled in dessicated coconut, the humble lamington is a treat often found in local bakeries and supermarkets, though cafés throughout Australia are increasingly serving these little cakes as a posh, yet nostalgic, bite.
I first made lamingtons when I moved to Switzerland and was, at the time, living with my lovely friend, Emma. She and I hit off really quickly, her passion for cooking and baking matching mine and we had so many fun moments cooking together and talking about food. Sadly, Emma decided to move to a more exotic country and I have since missed our girly chats and baking sessions. While Emma has been the ever attentive friend, remembering my birthday each year and even sending handwritten cards at Christmas, I live in guilt for being the worst friend ever; while I might have presents at the ready, all purchased and wrapped, there is something (lack of time? laziness?) which stops me from ever going to the post office, so I have boxes and bags of gifts all over my home, all eagerly awaiting delivery while they collect dust in anticipation. So to Emma and my other friends, I promise I will go to the post office … soon
I’m not quite sure what it was that prompted Emma and I to bake lamingtons one day, but she, at the time, was the proud owner of Bill Granger’s Everyday. In fact, it was Emma who introduced me to Bill Granger and I have been rapt in his books ever since, even making pilgrimages to his restaurants when in Sydney.
Bill Granger’s recipe for lamingtons is quite a good one, though after having made it a few times, I found the sponge to be too eggy in taste for me and perhaps a bit too dense. So I played around with various sponge cake recipes and ultimately arrived at my own concoction, which I think has been quite successful. Though, I still use Bill’s chocolate icing recipe as I love the thick and slightly hard coating it gives to the lamingtons, as opposed to the more traditional chocolate sauce which is used to lightly coat the sponge and provide a wet surface for the coconut to adhere to.
I like my lamingtons plain, but it is also common to find them with a layer of jam or cream (or both) in the centre. And whilst lamingtons are traditionally served in small sizes, it is not uncommon to see them in a large cake form.
I find that these lamingtons keep quite well because the icing helps to keep the sponge moist. I keep them on a cake stand covered with a glass lid for up to a week, though you would be lucky to still have any leftover after this time!
So although it is Australia Day, I make these lamingtons in honour of my wonderful friend, Emma