How Australian are Lamingtons? If you ask any dinky-di Australian they will tell you straight. Lamingtons are true blue Aussie mate! Surprisingly, there is some conjecture as to whether the tasty coconut covered cake originated in New Zealand or in Australia. My preferred story dates back to the 1800’s. Lord and Lady Lamington were the then Governor of Queensland and his wife. The story goes:
The Lord decided he wanted to throw a special party, almost immediately. That poor head chef must have been beside themselves! What would they make with no time to duck to the supplies stores? Especially as the chef must make do with what they already had at hand. Which included leftover sponge from the day before. But it was a day old… who would want stale cake?
Then they had a lightbulb moment. The genius idea – cut the day old cake up and dip it in chocolate and coconut to hide the staleness of the cake (thankfully these days we use firm sponge instead of stale cake!). That cake was said to have been so impressive the Lord and Lady’s guests asked for the recipe for days and weeks after the event. It is thought this is how it became lovingly labelled a Lamington cake after the hosts.
There are whispers that they actually originated from Wellington, New Zealand – GASP! Naturally it went by a different name… they were known as Wellingtons! People have been suspicious over the years that Lord Lamington visited Wellington at some point and may have sampled the cake while staying as a guest. Upon return to Australia, it was prepared at his request for his party guests and it was renamed by the Lord after himself.
As for where it really came from originally? I am no sleuth. Evidence is sketchy. What do you think? Have you seen any chocolate and coconut covered sponge cakes called Wellingtons lately? I haven’t! So I will to continue to claim them to be as Australian as Vegemite. Sorry Kiwis. You can keep Russell Crowe but hands off my Lamingtons.
The sponge cake in this recipe is super forgiving. For the first batch I had poured the batter into the pans before I had added the melted butter. Oops. To salvage all of the beautiful light batter I just fluffed up, I scraped it out of the tins, mixed the butter in and set it back into the pans. Batch saved!
Second time around I did not make the same mistake and the sponge turned out exactly the same. Somehow they are a soft and delicate sponge with just enough firmness to ensure they hold the chocolate without falling apart. Which is exactly what you want. Some recipes call for a chocolate coating that is part cocoa and part boiling water. I say they are nice when you are in a hurry, but the ganache… is the bees knees.
Regarding the use of pans, I tried both Pyrex and a traditional brownie pan with a thin base with both batches. Beware – the baking time in this recipe refers to the use of a traditional brownie pan. Firstly my brownie pan is slightly shallower than the Pyrex (by a margin). I filled the Pyrex first, putting slightly more into the pan just being on autopilot.
If you are you using different size or thickness pans, make sure you fill your shallower, thin pan first as much as able. This will avoid the temptation to overfill the deeper, heavier pan which will cause issues with baking times. The Pyrex pan took 10-12 minutes longer to cook. Without the extra time, the middle of the sponge from the Pyrex pan was unusable and needed to be thrown away (it looked okay on top so don’t be fooled, skewer test if need be!).
Before I set out to make them I was sure they would be fiddly to make. I had flashes of chocolate on everything and coconut all over the place. Once I had started I realised that, while it wasn’t a disaster, I was not exactly wrong. But I did realise: chocolate everywhere is not a bad thing. Well for some anyway!
I hand dipped these on all sides using a deep pot to hold my melted chocolate ganache. Most would just use a couple of forks and a shallow pan, which in hindsight would have been easier (not yummier – hello chocolate fingers). But it would have been limiting if i needed to reheat the ganache for any reason.
Just go gentle with the forks tines. I found it easier to pop the chocolate covered cakes into the coconut, then dump a large amount on top of the cake to cover. This will avoid any indentations on the sponge/chocolate from the fork when turning to coat. Pressing firmly once its all coated again on all sides helps the coconut to adhere. Shake off any excess (or keep on as preferred). The lamingtons keep really well in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Also worth noting you can freeze the cut sponge pieces before coating with chocolate. Wrap well with cling film and aluminium foil. Defrost the morning you need them and coat with chocolate ganache and coconut for a quick easy treat.
Recipe from: An old recipe scrap book I had. No author noted. Feel free to correct the reference if you know this recipe.
Lamingtons that are a light and fluffy sponge dipped chocolate ganache and then liberally sprinkled in coconut flakes. The only thing that could make these better? Eating them with chocolate milk.
- SPONGE CAKE
- 8 eggs
- 250g caster sugar
- 30g unsalted butter melted
- 250g plain flour
- 600g dark chocolate (at least 65%)
- 300ml pouring cream
- 400g shredded or desiccated coconut
- Step 1 Preheat oven to 190°C.
- Step 2 Lightly grease and line the base of 2 x 20cm square tins.
- Step 3 Whisk eggs and sugar in a heatproof bowl over boiling water. Simmer gently for 5-10 minutes until egg mixture is warm pale and frothy.
- Step 4 Transfer egg mixture to a stand mixer and whisk on high speed for 10 minutes or until tripled in volume.
- Step 5 Using a metal spoon, gently fold sifted 3/4 of the flour in small batches into the egg mix.
- Step 6 Mix through the melted butter and finish with the final 1/4 flour.
- Step 7 Divide batter evenly into prepared tins.
- Step 8 Bake for 20 minutes.
- Step 9 Remove from the oven and stand to cool on a wire for 10 minutes before turning out to cool completely.
- Step 10 Meanwhile prepare the ganache. Melt chocolate and cream on a low heat in a saucepan until combined. Keep warm.
- Step 11 Cut sponges into 5x5cm squares.
- Step 12 Pour coconut into a wide shallow dish.
- Step 13 Prepare a cooling rack with some paper towel underneath it to catch any dripping chocolate.
- Step 14 Dip the sponge pieces into chocolate mix to fully coat then dip straight into coconut. Turn on all sides using two forks to fully coat.
- Step 15 Set lamingtons on the rack and allow to set.