Can there be anything more inviting than a lamington? Created in Australia, but beloved by both Australia and New Zealand in equal measure, it’s a retro treat dear to our hearts.
It used to be that you could find lamingtons in every cafe around up until a couple of decades ago but, as we got used to more sophisticated cafe fare, the modest little lamington got pushed off the menu. Which is such a shame…
While it may be labelled by some as ‘old-fashioned’, as far as I’m concerned, you can’t beat it for sheer deliciousness. With its ‘light as a feather’ sponge cake, doused in either raspberry jelly and coconut (New Zealand’s favourite), or chocolate icing and coconut (Australia’s favourite), it truly is deserving of a come-back.
I couple of years ago, I made Raspberry Lamingtons and they were such a huge hit with the family (as well as the blogging world!), I thought it was high time I made the chocolate version. While many lamington recipes call for standard flour to be used (which creates a more cake-like sponge), I prefer the combination of cornflour and beaten eggs – it ensures a light and fluffy, not to mention, gluten-free, sponge that literally melts in your mouth.
I borrowed the chocolate icing recipe from Chelsea Sugar – it includes real chocolate, as well as cocoa, so it’s a rich double chocolate hit! You can, if you prefer, make a standard cocoa icing (I’ve included a recipe down in the notes below) – it’s a little less fussy and not quite so rich.
Oh, and by the way, you can totally make these ahead. In fact, it’s often recommended that you make the sponge a day ahead to make it easier to cut the next day (especially these delicate cornflour/egg based sponges which almost fall apart if you try to cut them on the day they’re made). The good news is that lamingtons, once iced, age really well and taste even better a day (or a few) later. Not that they ever last that long in our family! Enjoy!
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 3/4 cup of sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup cornflour (corn starch)
- 2 tablespoons custard powder
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- 100g (3.5 oz) dark chocolate
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 cups icing sugar (confectioner's sugar), sifted
- 1 cup cocoa, sifted
- 1/2 cup milk (I found this made the mixture very wet; just use as much as needed to make it pourable)
- 2 cups coconut threads
- 300ml (10.1 fl oz) whipped cream
- 3 tablespoons approx. strawberry jam
- Preheat oven to moderate 180°C/350°F.
- Prepare a standard lamington or sponge roll tin by greasing and lining with non-stick paper.
- Sift the baking soda, cornflour, custard powder and cream of tartar three times and set aside.
- Beat egg whites until they reach soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar a tablespoon at a time and beat until the mixture is stiff and no longer gritty. Then add the yolks one at a time and beat for a further two minutes.
- With a large metal spoon, add the sifted dry ingredients and fold in very gently in two batches.
- Transfer the batter into a greased and lined sponge roll tin with deep sides and bake 15-20 mins or until it is lightly golden and springs back when you press the surface lightly (the cake will rise quite high, then deflate somewhat before you need to take it out). If you have the nerve, some bakers recommend dropping the sponge on the bench just after cooking, which apparently prevents the sponge from deflating and keeps it light (I did on this occasion).
- Turn the sponge out immediately onto a wire rack and let it cool completely (these can then be stored in a air-tight container for a day before cutting, if you prefer). Once cool, you can trim the crusts if you think they’re a bit tough and then cut the sponge into approx. 5 cm squares (if you find the cake hard to slice, try putting it briefly into the freezer to firm it up).
- Make the chocolate icing and assemble (see icing recipe below).
- Combine chocolate and water in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth (it won't be completely smooth, but that doesn't matter). Remove from heat.
- Sift icing sugar and cocoa over chocolate mixture, stir until smooth. Add milk (as much as makes the mixture pourable) and mix until well combined.
- Using a large fork, dip sponge cake pieces into chocolate mixture, set on a wire rack to drain slightly then roll in a shallow tray of coconut (try not to get too much chocolate on the coconut threads while you're doing this, as it turns them brown). Leave lamingtons to set on a tray (you can store them in the fridge to help them set quicker if you like).
- Slice lamingtons in half (you can also slice through vertically or diagonally if you prefer), and pipe some whipped cream into the middle. Put the jam into a small piping bag (I just used a plastic sandwich bag with the end snipped off) and daub a little jam onto the front. Alternatively, you can spread the jam over the cut sponge (under the cream) if you prefer more of it.
2. You can keep the cake for a day before actually making the lamingtons, making the cake not so soft and easier to handle, otherwise freeze it briefly after making to ensure easier cutting.
3. You can store lamingtons (without the cream) in a sealed container in the refrigerator for several days – they actually taste better as the flavours have time to deepen. Lamingtons would last in the freezer for 2 months at least.
Alternative icing recipe:
2 Tbsp cocoa
6 Tbsp boiling water
25g butter, melted
2¼ cups icing sugar
¼ tsp vanilla essence
Dissolve the cocoa in the boiling water and mix in the butter. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and then pour in the cocoa mixture. Add vanilla and stir until well combined.
Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Sigma 30mm 1.4 DC ‘Art’ lens / Natural lighting