I’ve got a sweet Friday treat for you today in the form of these delicious Lamington’s! But first, I feel like I can’t possibly start a baking related post this week without mentioning the show we’re all dying to talk about (or at least I am!) – The Great British Bake Off – which returned to our screens this week. Wednesday nights have never looked so good. Seriously, I squeeled with delight at the idea on a night on the sofa with both GBBO and Long Lost Family in one sitting. Anyway, it’s all back – Mel and Sue’s funny quips, the innuendos, Mary’s disapproval of dunking Jaffa Cakes and Paul’s death stare. I think there was even talk of good penetration from Paul (in relation to cakes of course) – as first episodes go, it got off to quite the start didn’t it? I’m already excited about next week! So leave me a comment if you’re a fellow Bake Off fan and we can chat about who we like and don’t like already, and who’s in with a chance of the crown. hashtag – I can hardly contain myself.
Back to today’s agenda though – sharing the recipe for these coconut and jam Lamington’s. These are my bake for the #BBbakingclub this month and our theme was ‘Inspired By’ which meant that we had to delve into the club’s archives and choose a recipe from another baker to give a go. Back in April for our Travel Delicacies theme, one of our bakers did a smashing job of these coconut adorned cakes, and the image of them took me straight back to our time in Australia during our honeymoon when I tried one for the first time. I’ve been vowing to give them a go ever since.
Lamington’s are the traditional cake of Australia, and are basically sponge squares covered in chocolate icing and decorated in coconut. Some people say they should have jam inside, some don’t, but the first one I ever tried in Oz did indeed have jam and so I’m hooked on that version. Having now baked a batch with jam and a few extras without when I got lazy, both myself and my Husband concur – jam is an agreeable addition.
This was my first attempt at baking a Lamington, and I have to say it wasn’t without its pitfalls. Considering they consist only of sponge, icing, jam and coconut, they are a lot more fiddly to bake than you might imagine. Seeing as part of our challenge is to make the ‘inspired by’ recipe our own in some way, I at first attempted to be clever and try making my sponge cake with coconut flour. The thinking behind that being that a) the Lamington’s would be gluten free, and b) they’d taste even more coconut-y. But to save you the trial and error, I’ll just say – don’t use coconut flour to make Lamingtons. It doesn’t work. The cake was more like a dough before I’d even put it in the oven due to the dry consistency of the flour, and baking didn’t save it either. No rise, crumbly texture, and fell apart into a million pieces in my hands as I took the baking tin out of the oven. FAIL.
So I took things back to basics. Quit reading recipes and simply made my fail safe sponge cake recipe in a square tin using regular old plain flour. Much more effective. The next hurdle was the chocolate icing. I began following a Martha Stewart recipe but quickly had to abandon it as she stated the use of 8 cups of sugar. 8!!! That’s almost 2 whole bags of sugar in one batch of chocolate icing – that’s got to be a mistake right? That’s INSANE. Seeing as I only had about two and a half cups of sugar left in my bag and really couldn’t face stopping mid bake for yet another trip to the baking aisle in Tesco, I improvised and created my own version of a chocolate icing. It was perhaps a little runnier than it should have been and probably a lot lumpier (whisk people, whisk!) but it worked, and despite the extreme heat I was baking in that day did eventually set enough to be photographed.
The chocolate and coconut dipping action is indeed a messy business, and you might need to work fast to avoid your chocolate sauce hardening and your coconut turning into a bowl of coco pops but persevere and you will be rewarded with the tastiest little spongy, jammy, chocolately, coconuty delights at the end. (It’s best to ignore the sugar count by the time you’re throwing them down your gob).
A few top tips from me before you start…
Buy plenty of coconut – you’ll need it. As the Lamington assembly line gets under way, the bowl of coconut gets increasingly chocolate covered. And if you want your lamington’s to look all nice and white on top you’ll need to keep re-adding fresh coconut to the mix.
Bake your sponge ahead of time – or even the night before. This will allow it plenty of time to cool and harden slightly for cutting. Try not to be an impatient baker like me and cut it up straight from the oven, it’s crumbly.
Spread your jam in one go – if you have a steady hand and feel comfortable slicing your square cake into two halfs in order to spread jam in the middle do this. It is much less time consuming than cutting every individual square in half and spreading.
Don’t listen to Martha Stewart – 8 cups of sugar in your chocolate icing is ridiculous. RIDICULOUS I tell you. I also had far too much icing left over at the end so for one batch of Lamington’s you can make do with smaller quantities for the icing.
Listen to Jamie Oliver – Jamie’s recipe suggests pouring your chocolate icing into two seperate bowls before begging your Lamington assembly. This means that once one bowl gets full of crumbs and coconut half way through (which it does), you can switch and start afresh. I salute Jamie – he has this one spot on.
Be prepared to get messy – there’s jam filled sponge being dipped into runny chocolate icing and coconut being thrown on top – it’s gonna get messy, embrace it.
You will need
6oz plain flour
6oz unsalted butter
1 tsp baking powder
A square/rectangular cake tin
1 cup of milk
2oz unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups of sugar (Martha says 8, Jamie says 3 take your pick)
1 cup of cocoa powder
2 bags of desiccated coconut
How it’s done
First make the sponge. Add all of the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and whisk with an electric mixer (or by hand if you need to build some muscle).
Pour the cake mixture into a greased square or rectangular cake tin and place in a preheated oven at around 180C for about 25 mins. When a skewer comes out clean and the cake is golden on top it’s ready to come out.
Flip out onto a wire cooling tray and leave to cool fully before slicing.
Slice the cake in half down the side to create two thinner cakes and then spread one half with jam before placing the other half on top.
Cut your jam sponge into equal small squares. The edge and corner pieces probably won’t be the same size as the rest so these are the ones you can use as your practice for chocolate dipping (or the ones you can munch when you get hungry half way through baking)
Set aside and begin making your icing. Place the butter and milk in a pan and heat gently until the butter melts.
Transfer to a glass bowl and add your sugar and cocoa powder in stages, whisking thoroughly to avoid lumps. You can keep your bowl of icing over a pan of boiling water if you like while you dip the sponge so as to keep the consistency, or like me you can ignore that and just wing it.
Create a workspace and roll out some baking parchment to mop up the mess you are about to create. Have a bowl of chocolate icing and a bowl of coconut at the ready along with your sponge squares.
Using two forks (or your fingers if you want to get even more messy) dip your sponge square into the chocolate icing, covering completely before transferring to the bowl of coconut and rolling until covered.
Place on a wire rack to dry and continue with the rest. Leave to set and then enjoy with a cuppa!
Messy, but oh so worth it for how they taste. Bringing me right back to sitting in an air con bakery in Melbourne cooling down from the heat and trying my first one.
Wishing you all a wonderful bank holiday weekend!