Regrettably these are an Australian invention. But regardless these beauties are a staple in all small town tea rooms all around the country and more recently seen in trendy wee cafes dotted around town.
When I think of lamingtons, I think of this beautiful little gem of a cake that I ate late one night a few years ago. It was in a cafe called Agnes Curran on Franklin Road in Auckland. Each year at Christmas my family wander up and down Franklin road marvelling at the Christmas lights decorating the houses and we always stop for coffee at this cafe. I was served up the daintiest lamington covered in long thread coconut and filled with fresh cream and jam on a delicate china saucer.
I love lamingtons. They are right up there with custard squares for me. I think why it has taken me so long to get around to making these is my former fear of sponge cake.
I once had a sponge disaster.
It was many years ago.
Lets not talk about it.
I turned to the excellent book,
by Alexa Johnston for guidance. What I love about this book is that it looks into the history of all our tea room favourites. One of my favourite papers at uni was Food History and Culture, so this sort of thing really rises my cake.
So I decided to overcome my fear of sponge. I'm a grown woman now, I should not fear a sponge!
I gave it a go, I think I did alright. I am not going to lie, it isn't the best sponge of all time. It is kind of dense but I actually think this makes it ideal for dipping in chocolate and filling with cream; it keeps it's shape.
I think the trick here is that you really don't want to over mix. Mum also always talked about banging the tin full of batter on the bench before popping it in the oven to dislodge any large air bubbles.
I used the left over icing that my flatmate made the other day for a birthday cake to coat the lamingtons with. It contained a lot of butter so was wonderfully runny and good for coating the cubes of sponge when it was warmed but set really quickly once you put them in the fridge. This recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery's
made an obscene amount so ill halve the ingredients. It keeps in the fridge for yonks so you can make another batch the week after or even try making eclairs with it.
A really runny basic chocolate icing would also work. It would also be a whole lot cheaper.
Ladies a Plate
by Alexa Johnston
Makes 16 small squares
115g butter, softened
3/4 cup castor sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
For the icing
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1/2 cup cream
225g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
3-4 cups medium threaded coconut
Jam and whipped cream to fill
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees on bake and line a 20cm square cake tin with baking paper.
To make the sponge, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Continue beating until the mixture becomes voluminous. Mix in the vanilla essence.
Sift together the flour and baking powder and add it alternately with the milk. Gently stir in and be careful not to overmix.
Spoon into the prepared tin, smooth flat and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean.
Once out of the oven, leave to cool for 15 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. Once the cake is completely cool, slice into squares. I cut mine into 16 but nine would work well if this was to be served as a dessert.
Place the cubes on a plate and put in the freezer to chill and firm up before icing.
To make the icing, bring the castor sugar, golden syrup and water to the boil. Let this boil for around 10 minutes until it becomes a syrupy consistency and caramel in colour. Put to one side.
In a separate pan, bring the cream to just below boiling the pour this into the caramel. It will bubble and splutter a bit but will settle back down again quickly. Set aside to cool slightly.
Once cooler, add the chopped chocolate and keep stirring until it has all melted and been incorporated and the mixture has cooled. Then beat in the butter until it has also all been incorporated.
Using a fork to hold the cubes of chilled lamington, coat each piece with a thin layer of icing using a spoon to pour it over. If the icing isn't runny enough just burst it in the microwave for 10 second increments until it is pourable. Transfer the lamington to a bowl of coconut and sprinkle it well making sure it is completely covered. Leave to set on a wire cooling rack. Repeat with the rest of the cubes.
Leave the lamingtons in the fridge for an hour so that their icing sets.
Slice each one in half and spread in between each half a small dollop of jam and cream.