Ah, the humble lamington; stale sponge soaked in chocolate sauce then coated in coconut. Made by CWAs and Scouts for fundraisers across Australia and loved by all. This iconic treat is always served in this house on Australia Day. Since we’re a week out it’s time to make the sponge 😉
I love the history of the lamington. It is named after the Lamingtons, the Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901. Who created it is a bit sketchy, but what I love is that regardless of the person the circumstances leading to its creation are the same. Some time around the turn of the century the Lady and Governor Lamington needed refreshments for some unexpected guests and a resourceful chef or cook took some stale cake, dipped it in chocolate and rolled it in coconut. Coconut was a very exotic ingredient back then, but a staple at Government House’s kitchen as the chef’s wife was Tahitian. Everyone raved about them, clambering for the recipe.
Isn’t that how it always is, the thing you whip up while swearing under your breath about how a bit of notice would have been nice turns out to be your champion recipe.
It didn’t take long for the recipe to migrate south out of Queensland to Sydney and eventually across the ditch to New Zealand. Sorry my kiwi friends, this one truly is an Aussie original. The 2014 newspaper piece by Olaf Priol (an anagram of April Fool) claiming that the lamington was really a Wellington stolen by us convicts, was in fact an April Fools day joke. I’m going to avoid any controversy here by not mentioning pavlova. Enjoy my friends!
The iconic Aussie Lamington makes great use of any day old sponge or pound cake.
Required skills: melting butter in the microwave; egg breaking with no shells in the bowl; using a measuring cup instead of eyeballing it; lining a baking tin with baking paper.
This recipe is really simple. I’m offering a sponge recipe here but you can use your favourite one that you know is migraine-trigger-free. You just need to make it the night before as the stale cake absorbs the chocolate sauce better and doesn’t fall apart when bitten into. This is a great treat to make with kids as they love dipping the cake into the chocolate sauce.
The biggest tip here is to keep the chocolate sauce in its large saucepan and ladle out small amounts into small, deep bowls for dipping. Once the sauce is contaminated with crumbs which are sticking to the outside of the freshly dipped pieces just make a new crumb free bowl.
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 ⅓ cup flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 100 gm butter melted and cooled
- Baking paper
- 9” (23 cm) square brownie pan
- 75 gm butter
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup 100% cocoa
- 3 cups icing sugar
- About 3 cups of desiccated coconut
- Serrated bread knife
- Large saucepan
- A couple of small deep bowls
- Baking tray
- Cooling rack
- Greaseproof or parchment paper
- Preheat oven to 180C (350F).
- Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla together with a hand mixer until thick and pale.
- Fold through the flour and baking powder.
- Gently add the butter a little at a time.
- Line your baking tin with baking paper.
- Pour the cake mixture into the prepared pan.
- Bake at 180C (350F) for 25-30 min or until a skewer comes out clean.
- Allow to cool, then lift from the tin with the baking paper and leave on the counter overnight.
- The next day you should set up your dipping area before making the chocolate sauce. You’ll need lots of space, small deep bowls for the chocolate sauce, a large bowl in which you put the desiccated coconut, a baking tray covered in grease free paper with a cooling rack situated over it, and a couple of forks and spoons.
- Cut the cake into one-to-two-bite-sized squares with the serrated knife. I prefer them to be on the smallish side.
- In a large pot over medium heat melt the butter and then using a whisk incorporate the milk.
- Sift in the cocoa and whisk until incorporated. Keep whisking until the cocoa is completely dissolved. Turn off the heat.
- Sift in the icing sugar 1 cup at a time while continuously whisking to prevent lumps. You want a nice smooth and glossy sauce. Ladle into you small dipping bowl.
- You want to work with purpose on the dipping front. I find an extra set of hands really helpful and little ones are best doing the coconut rolling with their hands. This offers multiple opportunities to get chocolate on your fingers.
- Using a fork submerge a piece of cake into the chocolate sauce and roll it around to cover completely. Lift and allow excess to run off.
- Move it to the coconut and roll to coat completely before placing on the baking rack to set.
- You can move them to the fridge to help the icing set but they should be served at room temperature.
So my friends, what is something that you flung together with items on hand that everyone raves about?