Thursday, July 19, 2007
This week I feature lamingtons, another Australian treat that I discovered on my trip last year. They have been referred to as the “national cake” of Australia and were celebrated last year on July 21, which was named National Lamington Day. This year the day of celebration has been moved to August 10, so I am a little bit early.
A lamington is a cube of sponge cake, dipped in chocolate icing, and tossed in coconut. Often the sponge is filled with jam, cream or lemon filling. Newer versions use white chocolate for dipping and unusual flavors like lime or wattle seed. Lamingtons are a favorite tea-time snack down under, and are wildly popular in fundraising drives for churches, schools and girl guides (similar to the American bake sale).
They are most likely named after Charles Cochrane-Baillie, 2nd Baron Lamington, who served as Governor of the Australian state of Queensland from 1896 to 1901. The precise history of the association is not known, and the stories vary – some say lamingtons resemble a hat favored by the Governor; others say that they were a creative use for stale cake created by the Governor’s cook. The Baron is reputed not to have enjoyed the treats named in his honor.
As with many Antipodal foods, there is contention from New Zealanders, who claim lamingtons as their invention. Some claim that these treats were adapted from a cake made in the Scottish village of Lamington.
Makes 25 to 36 servings
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup hot water
4 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup milk
3 1/2 cups desiccated coconut (you can use sweetened coconut, as I did, but the dessicated is far superior because it is drier)
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Line an 8 x 8 inch square pan with wax or parchment paper. Grease the pan with butter.
3. In a large bowl mix the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt.
4. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until thick. Slowly add the sugar and vanilla as you continue beating.
5. Boil butter and water in the microwave.
6. Using a spatula, add the flour mixture to the egg mixture. Mix well and then add water and butter. Mix again.
7. Pour into the greased pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. After 15 minutes, remove cake from the pan and allow to cool to room temperature. [the photo above shows the sponge cake before dipping]
8. To make the icing, mix the powdered sugar and cocoa. Add butter and milk and stir until smooth.
9. Cut the cake into 25 or 36 square pieces.
10. Using tongs or a fork, dip each square into the icing. Shake off excess icing and roll in a bowl of coconut. Allow to dip dry on a wirerack.