L is for Lamingtons

The humble lamington.  An oldie but a goodie.  Tasty with or without cream in the middle.  I've eaten lamingtons countless times but have never made them so I thought it was about time I gave them a go.

Unlike pavlova, there's no argument that lamingtons were invented in Australia (he he).  Named after a chap called Lord Lamington, Governor of Queensland in the late 1800's, lamingtons are squares of sponge cake coated in either a chocolate syrup or a red jelly & then covered in desiccated coconut.

If you've never tasted a lamington before, then definitely give this recipe a go if you fancy something different for afternoon tea.  Lamingtons can be cut down the middle & piped with  whipped cream or they are lovely just on their own.  Up to you.

Now I've chosen to make chocolate lamingtons but you can also make pink lamingtons by coating the sponge squares in partly set jelly - usually raspberry or strawberry but I don't see why you can't break with tradition & use any flavoured jelly!  Who cares if you have a purple blackcurrant lamington if blackcurrant is your favourite flavour!  I'll add in some instructions below for coating the lamingtons in jelly.

Before I give you the recipe, one important thing to know is that you need to make the sponge cake the day before you cut it & turn it into your lamingtons.  Once the sponge is completely cool, you'll  need to store it in an airtight container overnight in the fridge.  The reason for this is because the sponge will be much easier to cut into squares & dunk in your chocolate syrup or jelly if it's nice & cold - it won't be as crumbly as a fresh sponge at room temp.

I've referred to one of my favourite recipe books, 'Ladies a Plate' by Alexa Johnston for this recipe.  Page 68 to be precise if you happen to have the book.

Ingredients for the sponge cakes (make the day before) 

115g softened butter
3/4 caster sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla essence

What to do
  1. First thing to do is ensure your butter is soft & the eggs are at room temperature.  Take the eggs out of the fridge & place them (somewhere safe!) on your kitchen bench then set about measuring the butter & cutting it into cubes.  Next do the Mary Berry trick & place the butter in a bowl of warm tap water so that it softens to a point where it squishes easily between your fingers.  TIP: I find that the cold butter will quickly cool the water so after a couple of mins, drain the water off & then cover the butter again with some more warm water.
  2. Preheat your oven to 180C.  Usually, the rule is to reduce the oven temp to 160C if using fan bake but in this instance I forgot & used fan bake at 180C!  The sponge ended up needing longer than the recipe stated anyway so no dramas there.
  3. Prepare your tin by lining a 20cm square cake tin with baking paper.  Remember my trick of spraying the tin first with cooking spray so the baking paper stays in place.  Now - if you don't have a square tin, don't worry.  Just use a round tin & then you can be different & cut out smaller rounds of sponge for your lamingtons!  No reason why you can't have a round lamington I say! 
  4. In a free standing or hand held electric mixer, cream the butter on a medium speed until smooth.  Stop the beater & with a spatula, wipe down the butter from around the sides of the bowl before adding a little sugar & beating again.  Continue gradually adding the sugar & beat well on a medium speed until light & fluffy.  Make sure you keep using that spatula to wipe around the sides of the bowl in between adding the sugar to ensure the sugar is well combined.  
  5. Add the eggs one at a time & beat on a medium speed for 2 minutes after each egg is added.  Beating well in between each egg is really important because you want to get lots of air into the mixture at this point.  Don't worry if the mixture curdles a bit after each egg is added - I found that beating for 2 minutes in between each egg soon fixed this.
  6. Sift flour & baking powder into a separate bowl.  Measure out your milk.  Switch the beater off & remove the bowl because you will now be folding in the dry ingredients & the milk by hand to ensure that as much air stays in the mixture as possible.  
  7. With a wooden spoon, fold in around 1/3 of the flour mixture & then around 1/3 of the milk.  Repeat until all the flour & milk has been combined.  
  8. Pour the mixture into your prepared tin & then with a palate knife gently smooth out the mixture so that it gets into each corner.  Level off the top & then place it in the oven for around 20-30 minutes until golden & the sponge springs back in the center when you push it lightly with your finger.  
  9. Once cooked, remove the sponge from the oven & leave it to cool for around 30 minutes or so in the tin before removing from the tin & baking paper & leaving it to cool completely on a rack.  
  10. Store the sponge in an airtight container in the fridge until the next day.

Ingredients for chocolate syrup*

500 ml water
55g butter
450g caster sugar
55g cocoa

* NOTE: I made up the entire amount stated in the recipe book & it made far too much syrup!  I would therefore recommend halving each of the ingredients.  The recipe does say that there is a lot of syrup & that it can be kept in a jar in the fridge.  Not sure what you would use it for though unless you decided to make two sponges & double the amount of lamingtons.  Even if you did this, I think you would still be left with a lot of syrup.  I guess there's always the option of keeping it to pour over ice-cream for a dessert if you are a chocolate fiend!

About 2 cups desiccated coconut for coating the lamingtons

What to do
  1. Place all of the ingredients into a saucepan & bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring constantly.  As soon as mixture comes to the boil, remove from heat & leave to cool completely.  This takes a while & if you're impatient like me, you'll wait for the syrup to cool slightly before pouring it into a bowl & chilling it in the fridge.
  2. Take your sponge out of the fridge & cut off any crunchy bits of sponge around the sides.  Then cut your sponge into 4x4cm squares (or thereabouts!) or if you have a round sponge, cut out rounds of sponge using a biscuit cutter.  You'll probably need to tidy up the squares a bit once you've cut them & you might want to cut a thin sliver off the tops of each to remove the browner, slightly crunchier layer of sponge.                
  3. Line two trays up next to each other & cover both with baking paper.  Dump the coconut into the center of one tray.  The other tray will be for drying your lamingtons.  Get your bowl of chocolate syrup (or jelly) & sit it next to the tray with the coconut.  Grab two forks.  You're good to go. 
  4. Spear each piece of sponge with one fork, using the other fork to steady the sponge & stop it from falling into the chocolate syrup (or jelly)!  Immerse the sponge into the syrup (or jelly) & gently shake off the excess syrup.  Then place two pieces of sponge at a time onto the coconut & roll them around to ensure they are completely covered in coconut.  Place on the clean baking paper lined tray to dry.
If you decide to make coloured lamingtons (which are very simple to make!) then just make up a packet of your favourite flavour of fruit jelly & then leave it to cool until it begins to thicken. You want the jelly to be no thicker than raw egg white.  Then follow steps 2-4 above.  

I think if you've never eaten a lamington before then you really should fill them with some whipped cream!  I'll give you a tip for whipped cream - add a couple of drops of vanilla essence & around a teaspoon of icing sugar to the cream before you whip it - just for a little extra sweetness!  Cut the lamingtons half way through & then spoon or pipe in the whipped cream.  

Yumo!! I hope you enjoy them :)  


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