Thursday, April 20, 2017

An Australian Treat With The Cake Slice Bakers

We always have four choices when the month comes around, but this month there was really only one for me to make. The Japanese Strawberry Shortcake required dairy, the Pistachio Cake was too much like the Banana Loaf from last month, the yogurt cake was too dairy and too plain. Fortunately, the last choice was Lamingtons. Sounds sort of like lambs, right? Well, we have four little black lambs in our pasture, two born just a couple days before Easter, so lambs were on the brain anyway. These, however, are nothing like lambs, they are small packages of deliciousness.

Lamingtons are a traditional Australian treat of sponge cake dipped in a chocolate icing and then coated on all sides with dry coconut. Sweetie and I had some when we visited Australia. It was during one of the few super-tourist things we did in Sydney. We took a boat trip around Sydney harbor, which gave us a lovely view of the Opera House from the water, plus we enjoyed tea and Lamington cakes.

The recipe in our book, World Class Cakes, didn't seem right to me. I checked out a number of different sites online because I really remembered some sort of red jam being part of the treat, but I didn't remember any cream. Turns out that the cream and even jam are not in the best of traditional ways, but can be done for a fancy tea. Since I don't do dairy anymore I left out the cream and used a mixture of seedless raspberry jam and brandy and raspberry brandy to brush on the cut side when I split the sponge cake in two. Sponge cake is pretty plain tasting and can be a bit on the dry side, so the addition of a little sweet liquid is traditional with many European cakes and seemed like a good idea. Cakes sandwiched with jam would probably have slid apart even more than these with just  flavored syrup did.

The sponge cake is another story. The recipe in the World Class Cakes calls for an odd sized pan, so I used David Liebovitz sponge cake recipe, which bakes in a 9-inch square pan. It made a tasty sponge cake with was pretty moist for a sponge. Easy to work with, too. Be sure to either chill or freeze your cake to make it easier to handle.

I did use the delicious icing recipe in our book, but it wasn't terribly helpful since it didn't give the amount of water to add. At first I tried it with a somewhat thick icing but that was terrible (if you look at the back lamington in the group photo below on the cooling rack, you will see the misshapen one that had thick icing). I added some more boiling water and eventually had an icing that was glossy and thick enough. I probably could have added a bit more water, but I was worried about it getting too thin.

I used a whole package of the dry coconut. Even though the final product was delicious and made a great dessert for a dinner party, it was a bit fussy in production, so I probably won't do it again. The most exasperating part was that the top and bottom layer kept sliding apart as I coated the Lamington with the icing. Two forks for both coating and taking the iced cake out while removing excess icing seemed to work well. I also put the icing into two bowls so that I could use one and switch to the other when the first became less than glossy due to lots of cake crumbs.  It was a very messy deal. I can see why Lamingtons have not taken over the world like, say, croissants. Or, maybe, there are folks who enjoy fussy work like this. I bet a ten year old boy would love it! Still, it was fun to try them and these were far tastier than the tourist fare in Sydney.

makes 16
Sponge Cake - David Lebowitz
Icing and Coconut - Shannon Bennett from World Class Cakes
Jam Filling - Elle

Sponge Cake
6 large eggs at room temperature
3/4 cup (150 g)sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cups (175 g) cake flour
2 1/2 oz. (70 g) melted butter (I used non-dairy butter), melted and cooled to room temp.

Butter a 9-inch square cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Whip egg and sugar and salt on high in a stand mixer for 5 - 10 minutes until thick and a well-defined ribbon remains on top of the batter when it falls from the beaters. Stir in the vanilla.

Fold the flour into the egg mixture - sift and fold. Fold in the melted butter. Don't overfold. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake about 30 minutes. Cake will pull away from the sides when done. Cool completely.

When cool, unmold onto cutting board. Remove parchment. Trim the ends, then cut into two rectangles. Split horizontally.

3 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam (or strawberry jam if you prefer)
2 tablespoons brandy
2 tablespoons raspberry brandy

Whisk these ingredients together until smooth. Use a pastry brush to brush onto one of the cut sides of the sponge cake, dividing evenly between the two rectangles. Stack the top and bottom of each rectangle together, with the jam coating in the middle. Wrap airtight and freeze overnight or for at least 30 minutes. Cut frozen cake into 16 squares.

Icing and Coconut
2 1/4 cups sifted confectioners sugar
2 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa
boiling water
3 1/3 cups dry unsweetened coconut

Sift and mix the dry ingredients together, then add water while whisking until the desired texture is reached.

Place a wire rack over a parchment or wax paper lined baking sheet. Place the coconut in one bowl and divide the icing into two bowls (this way when one bowl gets filled with crumbs, you have a new bowl to ice cakes with). Have two forks handy.

Place a prepared cold Lamington cube into the chocolate batter, making sure all sides are coated. Using the forks, lift the cube from the icing and let extra drip off, (you can help it along near the bottom with a fork). Next dip the cube into a bowl of dry unsweetened coconut. Coat fully, then place on the rack to let the icing harden a bit. Only 15 more to coat...

Serve with a fork. Some raspberries on the side or a puff of whipped cream are nice, too.


  1. I was definitely tempted to give these a go, but it did seem like more effort than I could justify thus month. They would be fun to try one of these days though!

  2. Elle! Thank you for the step-by-step pictures, and am glad to learn that they are better than what you tasted in Australia! This was my first choice, but after going through the recipe for the third time... deciding way too much work, and I could not decide on whether to use fresh grated coconut flakes or dried coconut ones.

  3. Well done for persevering with these. It sounded like too much of a fuss for me.

  4. Your lamingtons turned out perfectly - look at those even squares. As an Aussie I have tried many different version of lamingtons, and I guess I am a purist as I like them plain - no jam and no cream, and it is my way of avoiding any sliding that occurs when you have two halves. Of course I would never say no to any lamingtons offered to me :)

  5. Oo nice thought on adding the jam instead of the cream. I love raspberry and chocolate together!

  6. Ah Felice, I wish I could have given you one of was tasty, even with the raspberry. Will have to try plain next sliding tops.

  7. They look so beautiful. I love the variations that you to make it a little more practical. I attempted this bake, but had a lot of trouble with the sponge, I'm sure because of the cake pan size.