A couple of weeks ago at work we had a “Tastes Around The World” event where everyone in my department had to bring in a dish from their respective region of the world and then we had a big feast (during a meeting!). This meant I was lucky enough to eat Spanish, Italian, French, Peruvian and Creole food in one meal. There was a lot of food and if you know anything about those cuisines it was pretty heavy on the carbs, bacon and cheese! So obviously it was delicious.
I was expected to provide the Australian taste of the day and decided to make a sweet – what better than lamingtons?
Of course I’ve never made them before and I don’t own the correct equipment to make those beautiful pillowy squares so instead I opted for a cake. I imagined two light and fluffy sponges sandwiched together with strawberry jam, completely covered in chocolate and coconut, served with a dollop of sweet cream.
Here’s how I did….
It wasn’t exactly how I imagined it and it definitely wasn’t reminiscent of the lamingtons I ate as a child – does anyone remember the pink, green and yellow versions? But hey, my French colleagues had no idea. Some of them even went for thirds! And they’ve asked for the recipe.
Upon deciding to bake lamingtons for the “Tastes Around The World” I did a little research into how other people made them and also the origins of the cake itself. Apparently they are named after Lord Lamington, a Brit who was the Governor of Queensland in Australia. The story is that one of his staff dropped a sponge cake in some chocolate and in order to make it look better she then rolled it in some desiccated coconut.
I have no idea if this is true or not but it is a cute story and, again, my French colleagues lapped it up whilst they were licking chocolate off their fingers.
Isn’t it interesting that a “typical Australian dessert” has it’s origins in a story that involves Brits?
It’s not a coincidence that I am posting this just after Australia Day [Well I would have been . I have spent most of the past couple of days attempting to explain to my colleagues that the date for Australia Day doesn’t actually represent something worth celebrating. It’s also called Invasion Day or Survival Day – so you might begin to get an idea that for some Australians it isn’t just about the Triple J Hottest 100, pool parties and getting drunk.
“Let’s imagine that Australia is one big sharehouse. And you live in that sharehouse. And your housemates come home and say ‘We’re going to have a party on Friday night,’ and you say ‘Can we not do it on Friday night? That’s the day my dad died’.
“Good housemates would say ‘Sure, let’s have it next week, we want to make sure everyone has a good time. It’s kind of like that, except your housemates moved in without permission, they don’t pay rent, and their dad killed your dad.”
Pretty spot on if you ask me.
There are many great resources for more information about this issue and people who are much much better qualified than me to comment on it.
And, as we are very visual, some great videos (including the above about changing the date) to check out as well;
NITV’s 3LACK60 Session: Change The Date
Buzzfeed’s Aboriginal People Respond To “Australia Day”
I know what you’re probably thinking right now, isn’t this a post about a cake?!
Well yes, but now you get a better idea of why this blog is called Bit On The Side – it’s recipes with a bit of whatever else is on my mind, on the side.
It’s actually a little strange that I’ve decided to make my first food post about a cake where I am very much a savoury dinner type person rather than a baker but hey! I did bake this and like I said, some people had third helpings!
Some fun facts about how I made this;
- I don’t own more than one spring-form cake pan so I actually baked one cake and sliced it in half. I used a method that Kerryann Dunlop explains well in this video.
- Despite watching a fair few episodes of The Great British Bake Off I’m not sure what type of sponge is used in this cake (maybe similar to a genoise?) but my inspiration came from many different recipes on the internet. This Taste.com.au one in particular.
- I don’t have a separate standalone or handheld kitchen mixer so just use the attachment on my food processor. The eggs and sugar do need to be beaten for a long time – I did about 12-15 mins – it reminded me of making meringue, although obviously the yolks are also in there.
- At the time I also didn’t own any measuring cups, spoons or mixing bowls. I have since rectified this situation and hopefully this will make my cakes better in the future!
- I actually think the icing should have a more liquid consistency so that it soaks into the airy sponge. My icing was quite thick (and the quantity was way too much) and my sponge not that airy but I will definitely adjust for next time.
- This recipe is messy! It looked like my kitchen had experienced a bomb after the cake + chocolate + coconut assembly line.
Australian Lamington Cake
- Butter (for greasing)
- 1/2 cup self-raising flour
- 1/4 cup plain flour
- 1/4 cup cornflour
- 4 eggs, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup caster sugar
- 2 tablespoons strawberry jam
- 1 cup pure icing sugar
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 cup desiccated coconut
- Preheat oven to 185 degrees and grease a 20cm springform cake pan.
- Use an electric beater, or food processor with the beater attachment, to beat the eggs and sugar together until they are pale, thick and creamy.
- Sift flour and cornflour into a bowl and combine well.
- Sift half the flour mixture over the egg mixture and fold to combine.
- Repeat with remaining flour mixture.
- Pour into prepared tin and give it a shake so the mixture distributes itself evenly in the pan.
- Bake in the oven until golden and the top springs back (my oven took about 20 minutes although a better oven may only need about 15).
- Let it cool in the pan before moving to a wire rack to finish cooling completely. Once cool you can cut it in half, as explained above, to have two roughly evenly sized cakes.
- Sift icing sugar and cocoa powder in a shallow dish and stir in water. You can adjust the amount of water you use in order to create a smooth liquid consistency.
- Pour desiccated coconut into another shallow dish.
- Heat your strawberry jam on the stove at a low heat.
- Place one cake base side down into the chocolate icing and try to get icing all around the sides as well. Transfer to the coconut dish as the icing will allow the coconut to stick. Move cake to a plate with the side with the icing face down.
- Spread the cake with the warmed strawberry jam.
- Repeat step 12 with the other cake and place on top of the jam.
- Serve with cream.