The humble lamington

If you plan on celebrating the Australia Day long weekend festivities with the inclusion of a few baked treats (and so you should because any excuse will do really) then it’s time to dig out the Mixmaster, and your best frilly apron this weekend.

We are all pretty proud of our Aussie desserts – Pavlova, Anzac bikkies, fairy bread and of course, the classic lamington sponge, possibly one of our most favourite iconic treats.

Like many my age, I have been blessed with fond childhood memories of the delicious, coconut and chocolatey treat that is the lamington cake. My family, with two young boys in tow, were avid participants in the local Scouts club. Every other weekend quickly became a regular social and community affair. Each year around Australia Day all the mothers and volunteers would gather round with their colourful aprons on, producing hundreds and hundreds of lamingtons to be sold at the local Scout fete for charity.

I was young but had already developed an insatiable drive and enthusiasm to get my hands dirty in the kitchen and what better way than having the opportunity to dip them into the gooey, sticky mess that is the humble lamington. Often, I’d be found hiding under the table while ladies busied themselves chatting, gobbling down any of the defunct, fluffy sweet morsels with sheer delight.

I have memories of community and togetherness…..  for me and many others, the humble lamington is truly embedded into my Australian heritage.

Subsequently, 20 years later, most of which time was spent in the kitchen as a professional pastry chef, I’ve not had the opportunity to make many of these little gems. Yet they are certainly imprinted in my reflective childhood memories with the likes of rock-cakes, (strange things that they were) lemonade scones and pikelets, which seem to be making a solid revival in my house these days with two children under five.

I am sure you’ve noticed lately the lamington is a little bit on-trend, with tricked up shredded organic coconut, soft as a cloud gluten-free sponge, Swiss chocolate sauce and numerous fillings ranging from popcorn custard to Pina Colada, pandan and peppermint.

As we celebrate Australia Day this week, I feel it only fitting we go back to our roots and start with a beautiful, fluffy and simple lamington; made the old fashioned way, perfect with an afternoon cuppa.

Use this base recipe as a guide, keep them simple or jazz them up any way you like. Personally  I’m a fan of the jam and cream filled variety but each to their own really. No matter how you have them, these little treats are a guaranteed crowd pleaser!

  • 4 whole eggs
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 25g soft butter
  • 80ml boiling water
  • 270g desiccated coconut
  • 750g icing sugar
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 20g soft butter
  • 180ml milk
  • Preheat the oven to 180c (160c fan-forced). Grease and flour a 20cm x 30cm pan, line the base with baking paper.
  • Beat the eggs in a small bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar, beat for about 8 minutes or until the mixture is thick. The mixture should form thick ribbons when the beaters are lifted.
  • Meanwhile sift the flour and cornflour together three times. Combine the butter and boiling water in a small heatproof bowl.
  • Transfer the egg mixture into a large bowl. Sift the flour mixture over the egg mixture; using a whisk or a large metal spoon, gently fold, then fold in the butter mixture.
  • Pour into the prepared pan. Bake in a moderate oven for 25 minutes or until the sponge springs back when touched lightly in the centre and comes away from the pan. Turn onto a cake rack to cool.
  • Cut the cake into 20 even pieces.
  • Meanwhile, sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a large heatproof bowl; add the butter and milk; stir over a medium saucepan of simmering water until icing is smooth and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  • Pace the coconut into a bowl.
  • Dip each piece of cake into the icing with a fork and turn to coat then drain. Toss into coconut and gently pat to coat
  • Leave to set on a wire rack.

Author: Katherine Hunt