When I arrived in Australia, my wife Cath introduced me to the humble lamington and I was struck by its elegance, simplicity and, of course, flavour.
I never knew what a lamington was until I moved to Australia. Hard to believe, I know, especially as I have since written a book on the subject.
That was 20 years ago, and I have since fallen in love with arguably Australia’s most famous food. Now growing up in the UK, I was exposed to many delicious classic bakes and desserts, such as trifles, crumbles, steamed puddings, jam tarts and much more. And indeed, these were the dishes I first started to bake as a young cook, but no-one ever mentioned a lamington to me.
I now know that those sneaky Aussies were, understandably, keeping these moreish cakes to themselves. A recent trip to the UK showed me that the cat is out of the bag, as I saw cafes and even supermarkets with their version of this Aussie classic.
When I arrived in Australia, my wife Cath introduced me to the humble lamington and I was struck by its elegance, simplicity and, of course, flavour. The perfect lamington for me has a light and fluffy sponge soaked in luxurious chocolate covering with coconut. It is also important to have a generous filling of raspberry jam and a sweet, smooth cream filling, preferably infused with vanilla. The best thing about these lamingtons is that anyone can make them: they are easy to prepare and use everyday ingredients.
After moving to this amazing country, I have found my food preferences changing from my nostalgia of UK sweets to the new and exciting foods I have discovered and am still discovering here. If I have to think of a dish that says “home” to me, then I can’t think of a better example than a classic lamington.
Makes 9 Lamingtons
4 eggs, room temperature
135g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
135g self-raising flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
100g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
200g caster sugar
70g cocoa powder
100g dark chocolate, chopped small
25g icing sugar
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
Lightly toasted flaked coconut
Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease a 20cm x 20cm square by 6cm deep cake tin. Line the tin base and sides with baking paper cut to size.
For the sponge: whisk the eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla on medium to high speed for 20 minutes. The mixture will be thick and pale.
Sieve the flour with the baking powder into a bowl, gently fold this sieved flour into the whipped egg mixture. Use a spatula or metal spoon to gently incorporate the flour.
Take around 150g of the batter and whisk it into the cold melted butter, then transfer this mixture back into the bowl with the remaining batter. Fold all together gently with a spatula or metal spoon.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake it in the oven for 22-25 minutes or until cooked through. Use a skewer to test that the batter is not moist in the middle. Remove the sponge from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 20 minutes before gently turning the sponge out onto a wire cooling rack. Leave to cool fully before removing the paper.
Remove the sponge from the tin and trim any brown edges off with a serrated knife. You should trim the sponge square with the dimensions of 18cm x 18cm. Use a sharp knife to cut the sponge into nine 6cm x 6cm sponge pieces of the same size. Set aside.
For the chocolate covering: place the sugar and cocoa powder into a small heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the water and cream. Stir with a fork or whisk, then heat over a medium heat and stir continuously with a heat proof spatula until it boils. Continue to boil for 30 seconds before removing from the heat.
Add the chocolate to the pan and stir to melt. Pour the covering into a wide dish and add a piece of cut sponge. Roll the sponge in the covering to coat fully and gently remove it. Cover the sponge with coconut flakes and set aside. Repeat with the remaining eight pieces of sponge.
For the cream: whip the cream, sugar and vanilla seeds to a firm peak and transfer into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle.
To assemble: cut each lamington in half and spread raspberry jam on the bottom halves. Pipe cream on top of the jam and then top with the other half of lamington. Enjoy with a cup of tea.
DARREN PURCHESE IS A JUDGE ON THE GREAT AUSTRALIAN BAKE OFF, ON TUESDAYS AT 8.30PM ON FOXTEL AND AVAILABLE ON DEMAND.
Published in ed#692