Familiar with lamingtons? Don't despair. Odds are you aren't alone.
Lamingtons are a quintessential part of every Australian's childhood. The little sponge cake is dipped in chocolate icing and then rolled in desiccated coconut (see below).
A mainstay in Australia, they are commonly found at school fairs, morning teas, and bake sales around the country, very much like our brownies or chocolate chip cookies would be.
These days lamingtons are also commercially produced, however they don't taste as good as the homemade versions, I am told. They can be purchased cré®me-filled, plain and raspberry jam-cré®me filled.
Despite its small size, the cake has a large reputation, so much so that in 2006, the little lamington was inducted into the National Trust of Queensland's list of Heritage Icons. Since then each year on July 21, Australians celebrate "National Lamington Day".
How was the lamington brought to my attention? By a gentleman reader from southern New Hampshire, who loves to cook and looks for my recipes every week in his paper. He wrote me and told me he had been cutting out the recipes each week for nearly two years and sending them to his sister Barbara, who lives in Queensland. She enjoyed getting them, and through the Internet she got in touch with me; introduced herself and told me a little about her life. I have her permission to share the following with you.
Barbara moved to Australia in 1970 with her two children and American husband. Her first invitation to "come for morning coffee" with a few of the wives was welcoming, but being a "new Australian" she wanted to do the right thing, so asked what she could bring. "Oh just a few pikelets or lamingtons would be nice," it was suggested. To herself, she exclaimed "Say what?" She asked what they were. Pikelets are tiny pancakes, probably likened to crepes, that are served with a spread of jam and whipped cream.
Barbara went on to say she has since lived in many parts of Australia, and found that pikelets and lamingtons are very popular wherever she went.
About six months later, her brother contacted me to let me know Barbara was making a trip to the States for a visit. He was arranging a "welcome home" afternoon tea, and invited me to attend as a surprise for her. I did attend and enjoyed meeting both of them immensely.
She brought with her the recipe for lamingtons which she states came out of a cookbook for high school students titled "Everyday Cookery."
2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/4 teaspoons of sea salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup of room temperature butter
3/4 cup of white sugar
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup of milk
2 cups of icing sugar (confectioners sugar)
1/3 cup of cocoa powder
3 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup of milk
Whipped cream for serving - optional
10 ounces of desiccated coconut - This is coconut that has been dried longer to remove more of the moisture content. It is widely used by bakers and pastry chefs. If you are unable to find it in your local store, use regular dried coconut.
Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).
Lightly butter an 8-inch square cake tin. Set aside.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, use an electric beater to cream the butter and sugar mixture together until pale and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time to the butter/sugar mixture. Beat well after adding each egg.
Add the vanilla to the mixture and mix well to combine.
Next, use a spatula to alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, starting and finishing with the flour.
Spread the batter into the cake tin, making sure it's evenly spread.
Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. Test the center of the cake with a toothpick and make sure it comes out clean.
Cool the cake in the tin for about 5 minutes and then invert it onto a wire rack to cool.
Once the cake has cooled, cut it into squares of a desired size and place them in an airtight container. Pop the container in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight is better. The more chilled the cake is the easier to handle.
Now for the icing. Place the icing sugar, cocoa powder, butter and milk in a heat proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.
Stir the mixture until it is smooth but still a bit thick. You don't want the liquid to get too thin otherwise the sponge cake won't absorb the coating.
Now it's time to assemble the ;amingtons. Put out some newspaper under wire racks to catch any mess. Place the cake pieces on the racks and have your chocolate icing and desiccated coconut ready.
Quickly coat the sponge cake on all sides in the icing mixture and then gently roll the cake in the coconut. Repeat the process. (Do not submerge the cake in the chocolate as you are just coating the sides).
The lamingtons can be stored in an airtight container for 5 days.
GOOD TO HEAR FROM YOU
I was browsing online and came across a recipe for Apple-Walnut Salad under your name. I haven't had any luck finding the recipe online. If it is yours, could you send it to me? I'm always looking for new things to try.
That recipe is one that I did on video. You can find it at www.gloucestertimes.com Go to the menu list on left and scroll down to "Taste of the Times." That will you take you to the videos; click on "food type"and then click on salad. Fourth one down is the Apple Walnut Salad, also called Wedding Salad.
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