Australia Day: Lamingtons

Often Australia is associated with Lamingtons. But why? Well, the story goes like this…
This Australian culinary icon, which consists of sponge cake dipped in chocolate and liberally sprinkled with fine desiccated coconut, was created through an accident at work by a maid-servant to Lord Lamington, the thoroughly-British eighth Governor of Queensland. The maid-servant was working at Government House in Brisbane when she accidentally dropped the Governor’s favourite sponge cake into some melted chocolate.

Follow British celebrity chef and restaurateur Jamie Oliver’s Lamington recipe for your own tasty version…

For the cake
4 eggs
200g (1 cup) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g (1 ⅓ cups) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
110g butter, melted and cooled

For the icing
75g unsalted butter
250ml (1 cup) milk
65g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder
435g (3 cups) icing sugar

To assemble
Around 6 cups desiccated coconut

Method for the sponge
Preheat the oven to 350˚F/180˚C/gas 4. Grease and flour a 20cm x 30cm pan, lining the base of the pan with parchment paper. Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl with an hand mixer (medium-high speed) until pale and thick (around 3 minutes). Sift the flour and baking powder over the egg and sugar mixture and use a rubber spatula to gently combine the dry ingredients. Add the melted butter, about ⅓at a time, gently mixing with a rubber spatula until completely combined, then pour the mixture into the prepared pan.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. The cake should spring back when lightly touched in the centre. Turn cake onto a wire rack to cool.

Cut cake into even, bit-sized pieces about 4-5cm.  You will probably end up discarding the edge pieces, as they won’t be completely square. At this stage you can refrigerate the cake for a few hours or leave the cake overnight in an airtight container, because a slightly less fresh cake will be easier to dip in the chocolate icing.

When you are ready to dip the cakes, set up an area large enough to accommodate bowls for the cake pieces, the chocolate icing, the coconut and also a large tray topped with parchment paper and a cooling rack. You will need to work quickly to dip the cakes so having everything organised in advance will help.

Method for the icing
Sift the icing sugar and the cocoa powder into two different bowls. In a large saucepan, melt the butter, then mix in the milk. Next, using a whisk to stir, start to add the cocoa powder. Once the cocoa powder is completely dissolved, add the icing sugar about a cup at a time, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. When all the icing sugar is combined, pour the chocolate mix into two separate bowls – that way when one mix gets full of crumbs you can switch to the next one.

Working quickly, using a fork, dip the cake cubes into the chocolate mix and roll them around with the tines of the fork to completely coat. Drain any excess mixture off the cakes then drop them in the coconut and roll them around lightly to coat evenly with coconut. Set the cake cubes on the cooling rack placed over parchment paper to drain. You can refrigerate the cakes to help set the icing, then bring them to room temperature before serving.

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