If there’s something that speaks for a nation’s identity, it’s food and hairstyles. Because I’m the kind of person who barely uses conditioner, I’m going to focus on the former.
America has serving sizes larger than the average American. The French have sauces that take longer to make than the time taken to rear a calf to slaughtering age. The British have pub food, because that’s where the lager is. The Australians? Well we have lamingtons.
If you rack your brains, this is only one of the very few true Australian dishes that no other country can lay a claim to. The Kiwis are haggling over pavlova, and everything else on our menu came with the First Fleet from the motherland. Lamingtons are ours.
That’s not really a reason for people to go out and make them though. Jellied cow’s foot is unique to Poland and that’s no reason to go get a plateful.
The real reason as to why you should try a lammie is because they taste good, keep well and everyone who’s not Australian asks, “what the hell is that?”
Lamingtons are essentially little squares of sponge or butter cake that have been dipped into chocolate which is absorbed around the outside of the sponge. They are then covered in dessicated coconut so you can actually eat the thing without too much choc-evidence on your fingertips.
You can even go crazy and layer cream and/or jam between a couple of sponge bits before subjecting your creation to the chocolate bath.
Simple, yes. Scoff-worthy, yes. Therefore symbolic of a country… um, yes.
If you’ve been sold on sacrificing the jaffa cakes for a round of lamingtons, check out my (so far) fail-proof recipe below. If you make the sponge from scratch, it works best to chocolatify it after it’s a bit stale, so you’ll either need to make the sponge a day in advance and keep it in the fridge overnight, or make it way in advance and store it in the freezer until you’re ready to go all the way with it.
To make the sponge (if you haven’t cheated and popped down to the supermarket to buy a pre-made one):
- 1/2 cup softened butter
- 3/4 cup castor sugar
- 2 cups self rising flour (or 2 cups plain flour + 2 tsp baking powder + 1 tsp baking soda + 1/8 teaspoon of salt)
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Grease a square cake tin (lamington tins are usually 11 x 8 x 1.5 inches, so anything close to this will do).
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until pale yellow, then mix in the vanilla.
Beat in eggs one at a time.
Fold in half of the flour, then add half of the milk. Repeat with rest of flour and rest of milk.
Once the mixture is smooth, pour it into the tin and smooth the top.
Pop into the oven at 190°C for 35 – 45 minutes. This will change depending on the size of the cake tin, so start prodding it around the 30 minute mark to see how far along it is to becoming an actual cake.
Once done, let it cool and leave in the fridge overnight.
To make LAMINGTONS!
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 4 cups icing sugar (this is not a recipe for any diabetics out there)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 – 3 cups desiccated coconut
Cut your slightly stale sponge into chunky squares or smaller rectangles- as long as they’re at least 8cm long, you’ll end up with pretty good looking lamingtons.
In a large bowl (again) mix the icing sugar and cocoa powder.
In a saucepan, heat the milk and butter until the butter has melted. If you’re a stove-phobe, you can opt to do this step in a bowl in the microwave.
Slowly pour the milk mixture into the cocoa-sugar mixture and mix until you have a bowl of runny chocolate. Tasting at this point is a good idea, but try to limit yourself to just one spoonful.
Set up your kitchen bench so you have cut sponge on your left, chocolate bowl in the middle, a large plate piled with dessicated coconut next to that, and a large plate or wire rack on your right.
Pick up a sponge square and plop it into the chocolate bowl. Using two forks, roll the sponge in the mixture so that it’s covered with chocolate.
Still with your two forks, lift out the chocolate-covered cake and plop it onto the coconut. Roll it around so that it becomes completely covered, then place onto your rack/ plate.
Repeat about 20 times with the rest of your lammies.
Once done, these cakes need a bit more time to go stale (like all good things do), so pop them in the fridge again to set for at least 1 hour, if not 1 day.
Eat. Wish you had made more.