A delicious recipe for classic Lamingtons, perfect to serve on Australia Day or for a school bake sale.
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 🙂
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 35 mins
- Total Time: 90 mins
- Yield: Makes 32 lamingtons
For the cake
- 185 g (1 1/4 cup) plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 40 g (1/4 cup) cornflour
- 200 g (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 230 g (1 cup) caster sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) full cream milk
For the chocolate icing
- 500 g (1 lb) icing sugar, sifted
- 200 g (7 oz) dark chocolate (60% or 70%)
- 15 g (1 tablespoon) unsalted butter
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) milk, plus more
- 325 g (12 oz) dessicated coconut
- Make sure that the butter, eggs and milk are at room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
- Butter a 17 cm x 27 cm baking tin, and line the bottom with greaseproof paper.
- Place all of the ingredients for the cake into a large food processor and blitz until everything is thoroughly combined. The batter should be pale yellow and quite thick. If the batter looks a bit curdled (which can happen if not all of the ingredients are at room temperature), blitz for a few more seconds.
- If you don’t have a food processor, simply sift the flour, baking powder and cornflour into the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Add the butter, sugar, vanilla, eggs and milk. Beat on low speed until all of the ingredients are incorporated. At this stage, the mixture might look a bit curdled. Increase the speed to high until the mixture has slightly increased in volume. You should have a thick, pale yellow mixture.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tin and bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. You may need to cover the cake with some foil if it is browning too quickly.
- Leave the cake in the tin for about 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool, with the bottom of the cake facing up. This will help to ensure that the top of the cake flattens while it cools.
- Using a serrated knife (ideally a long, serrated bread knife), cut the sponge into 32 squares, or whatever size you wish. Keep in mind that, once coated in chocolate and coconut, the cakes will be much bigger in size.
- To make the chocolate icing, melt the butter and chocolate over low heat in a bain-marie (or a bowl over a pan of simmering water). Add the icing sugar and whisk in the milk until you have a thick, but slightly runny, mixture. The icing needs to be thick enough to coat the cakes, but runny enough to only leave a light coating. Leave the bain-marie on the stove over very low heat.
- Pour the dessicated coconut onto a large plate.
- Using two forks, dip a piece of sponge into the chocolate icing mixture, making sure that all sides are coated, and allow any excess icing to drain off. Then roll the chocolate-coated sponge in the dessicated coconut, and place the lamington on a wire rack to dry. Repeat with the remaining sponge pieces.
- If the icing mixture becomes too thick, whisk in some milk to thin it out.
I prefer to make the sponge cake the night before serving, and to leave the cake to cool and dry on the wire rack overnight.
The lamingtons also need a bit of time (30-60 minutes) to set, once you have dipped them in chocolate and coconut.
These lamingtons keep very well for several days in an airtight container.
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