What are lamingtons? Cake covered in chocolate, covered in coconut. But there’s more to it than that. They are fairly dense vanilla sponge baked in a rectangular tin then cut into squares; dipped into a chocolate sauce which is runny and very chocolatey and really should make the cake soggy (but it doesn’t); and then tossed in coconut because chocolate, cake and coconut just go together.
But don’t be fooled. Not all lamingtons are equal. There’s the ones bought prepackaged on a plastic tray from the supermarket. These are so light that if they weren’t wrapped in plastic they would float away. Best avoided. Then there’s those from the old-school bakery that still sells spongy white bread, sausage rolls and pies, and cupcakes covered in garishly coloured icing with sprinkles on top. Bob’s Bakery down the road, was one of these and they did great lamingtons. When it was your turn on the cake roster for the school canteen and things hadn’t quite gone to plan for baking, you could pop into Bob’s and buy a cake and almost pretend you’d made it yourself.
Bob’s, like so many bakeries of this kind, has long gone. Now we have bakery franchises where the name of the baker is irrelevant and everything tastes the same regardless of which store it is bought in. Their lamingtons are usually not up to scratch either. Which leaves a lamington dilemma. Only solution is to make your own!
This recipe is from David Herbert’s Best Ever Baking Recipes, and is perfect. The cake is just right, the chocolate sauce is perfect, and the coconut…I always use shredded coconut because I like it better, even though lamingtons generally are coated in the desiccated variety. One thing about making lamingtons – the coconut goes brown really quickly, so you have to choose to have either brownish coconut or replenish the pile regularly. I don’t mind the brownish tinge. Enjoy!
- 275g self raising flour
- 170g castor sugar
- pinch of salt
- 150g unsalted butter, really soft at room temperature
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 125ml milk
- 300g desiccated coconut
- 375g icing sugar
- 40g cocoa powder
- 30g unsalted butter, melted
- 185ml milk
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius, and line a 25x25cm square baking tin.
- Sift the flour, sugar and salt into a large bowl. Add the butter, eggs, vanilla and milk, and beat in with electric beaters for a few minutes or until the mixture is smooth and easily drops off a spoon.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, and smooth the top, making sure it is evenly spread.
- Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake.
- Cool for 5 minutes in the tin, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the chocolate icing:
- Sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder into a large heatproof bowl and place the bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. Whisk in the melted butter and the milk. Continue whisking until the icing is smooth and shiny. Remove from the head and set aside.
- Pour half the coconut into a large shallow tray. Save the rest to replenish the pile as needed.
- Cut the cake into 16 squares, as evenly as you can.
- Dip a square of cake into the chocolate icing, letting the excess drip off for a second, then put it in the coconut and gently roll around to cover each side completely. Place on a wire rack until the icing dries. Repeat the process with the other 15 squares.
- This is a bit messy but using your hands is quite satisfying.