I don’t really understand why I did not know what a “lamington” was till late last year. Given I grew up in proximity to their country of origin, it’s odd that I did not encounter them till recently. It’s also odd that given how delicious they are, that they are not more widely available in the US and other countries. My little one is luckier than me, having been introduced to these little delights early in life. Though for a while she was calling them “croutons”. They are shaped like croutons, but that is about all they have in common.
A lamington is a dessert of Australian origin and it comprises of squares of sponge cake, coated with chocolate icing/sauce and then dipped in dessicated coconut. There are variations to this “traditional” lamington – with sometimes a layer of cream or jam in between the cake. There is some connection to some Lord/Baron Lamington, but that is of little interest to me. These are the perfect little tea party treat or lunch box surprise (forget cupcakes!). Ria wants a mountain of these to be her birthday cake and even I think that is a fun/unique idea!
I have not attempted to bake these myself. My dear friend Elizabeth is a wonderful baker and since she introduced me to them, she makes them for me. 🙂 This could be a fun baking project with the kids. The sponge cake is basic enough, the chocolate sauce is easy to make with kids and the rolling the squares of cake in coconut a fun (and messy) activity.
Lamingtons are to Australians what chocolate cupcakes are to Americans. They are squares of yellow butter cake dipped into a chocolate sauce and coated with unsweetened coconut. It must be a firm-textured butter cake with a fine crumb, which is exactly what you’ll get with the recipe below. For best results, it should be made a day ahead.
Lamingtons are a national favorite in Australia, sold at almost every bake sale in Australia and practically every bakery. Kids love eating them out of hand, but you can serve them at a tea party with knife and fork. A scoop of vanilla ice cream goes very well with a Lamington.
If you prefer, make the variation of using macadamia nuts instead of coconut.
- 1 3/4 cups bleached all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter, melted
- 2/3 cup boiling water
- 3 to 4 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
To make the cake, adjust an oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 13 x 9 x 2–inch baking pan, dust it with flour, and knock out the excess flour.
Whisk the flour and baking powder together in a medium bowl.
Beat the butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add 1/4 cup of the sugar and the vanilla and beat for 30 seconds. While beating, gradually add the remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar. Scrape the bowl and beater, then beat for 5 minutes on medium-high speed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. On low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with the milk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and beating only until smooth. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and pulls away slightly from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in its pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then cover the cake pan with a wire rack and invert the two. Remove the pan, cover the cake with another rack, and invert the cake again to cool completely right side up.
Drape the cake loosely with a kitchen towel and leave at room temperature overnight.
To make the chocolate sauce, in a medium metal bowl whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa, butter, and boiling water until smooth. Set the bowl into a pan of very hot water to keep the sauce fluid. Spread the coconut in a shallow dish or pie plate. Drop a piece of cake into the chocolate sauce and use two long-tined forks to turn the cake quickly in the sauce to coat all surfaces. Lift the cake out of the sauce, letting excess sauce drip back into the bowl, and transfer the cake to the bowl of coconut. Use your fingers to sprinkle the cake with coconut, rolling it around to coat all surfaces well. Remove the cake from the coconut and set it on a wire cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining cake. Leave the cakes on the wire racks to dry for 1 to 2 hours before serving.
Storing: Lamingtons keep well for 3 to 4 days, stored in an airtight container at room temperature.