The Daring Bakers’ Challenge:
For the May challenge Marcellina from Marcellina in Cucina dared us to make Lamingtons. An Australian delicacy that is as tasty as it is elegant I am running backwards on a treadmill! I am on the 26th and furiously banging away at my lap-top ‘cause this is the only hour I will get in this fast and furious day to complete this post and I am determined not to miss this challenge even if the heavens descend and choose to stop me. Look at me…..when I peeped into the Daring Bakers’ Forum in the first week of May I was so full of ideas and myself. Thought I would execute the Lamingtons one fine sunny morning and surprise the men with an unexpected treat but the heat, early mornings and driving in this horrendous Mumbai traffic, has taken a toll on my already fading memory and hey! Mr. “40 something” it’s not age! Now that I have it in black and white let me get down to the Lamingtons. Another challenge, another story. That’s what I like about the DBCs. A good story maketh a good post and my fellow bloggers and visitors this one is as good as it can get. I am an absolute sucker for Victorian stories, set in the 1800s, when ladies wore muslin gowns for tea and changed into silk and taffeta for dinner and lace bonnets for bed-time. Ooooh I must have been one of them. Tea in the warm gardens under the cool canopy of verdant oaks, fine china, tinkling cutlery, maids who take care of brats and white-gloved chauffeurs who drive you around in horse driven carriages and gentlemen who bow when introduced. I already feel like a character from Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, a whole day to while away, doing needle-point, receiving ladies for tea and leaving calling cards around the city. Well, I am sure you get the picture. In this setting enters Lord Lamington the Governor of Queensland, Australia from 1896 to 1901. Stories abound as to why the cakes came about and you must have guessed by now that this beautiful cake is named after His Lordship. Lord Lamington’s maid-servant accidentally dropped a freshly baked sponge cake into some melted chocolate (butter fingers!). Apparently Lord Lamington disliked wastage (my kind of man!), so he suggested coating the chocolate coated cake in desiccated coconut to avoid messy fingers. “Seriously, Mom? Messy fingers?” that’s Mr.13’s reaction to His Lordship’s thrift and fastidious character as he stuffed his mouth with one more Lamington. I almost screamed “Behave like a gentleman!. New Zealanders claim that Lamingtons are their babies and a Kiwi Daring Baker gave another interesting story to refute the Aussies’ claim to fame. In a portrait, “Summer Pantry” dated 1888, a partially eaten Lamington cake is clearly visible on the counter of a cottage overlooking Wellington Harbour. The Kiwis also rechristened it Wellinton – a double sponge dessert, dressed in shavings of coconut intended to imitate the snow capped mountains of New Zealand.” made by a local baker A.R. Levin So the stories and claims and counter claims continue and honestly a good lesson in History has stirred up my appetite and I needed proof if the cake was as good as the stories which proceeded it. Marcellina from Marcellina in Cucina hosted this challenge and can’t thank her enough for the recipe and History lessons. The sponge inside the Lamington is a basic Genoise Sponge- light and delicate. In this recipe cornflour is used instead of plain flour and little melted butter is folded in to add moisture to the cake. This is a very light and feathery sponge and you need to handle it with love and care, fold in the cornflour lightly, don’t open the oven door to peak in every few minutes or it will sink and turn lumpy. The cake is so delicate that it needs to be aged a day before it is sliced so that it doesn’t fall apart. But I was short on time and went ahead and did the slicing. The topping possibilities are endless so don’t stop at desiccated coconut , I am not a fan of coconut and cake, so I chopped up some almonds into the desiccated coconut. I found the dipping sauce too sweet and next time I would go slow on the icing sugar. I have also added some chopped dark chocolate to the sauce whilst melting. You are free to fill the Lamington with cream, jam, Dulche de Leche, nuttela. I filled a few with chocolate coffee cream from my Coffee, Coffee Cake and that was a good idea as it cut the sweetness of the sauce. Finally the Lamingtons are ready, photographs taken and the treadmill seems to have slowed down. I am back in the gardens chatting with Jane, Lizzie, Mary, Kitty and Lydia. A cool wind blows at my curls and the rustles my gown and I am rudely jerked out of my reverie…..in the distance Mr.13 yells, “Mom, May I have one more?”
Servings: 24 Sponge Cake I
5 large eggs, at room temperature
225 gm castor (superfine) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
200 gm cornflour (cornstarch)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon butter, melted (optional)
350 gm icing sugar
40 gm cocoa powder
1 teaspoon coffee
40 gm dark chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon/15 gm butter, melted
½ to ¾ cup (120 ml to/180 ml) milk
Filling : Chocolate- Coffee Nut filling in Coffee, Coffee Cake (optional)
Topping 150 gm unsweetened desiccated coconut, to assemble 100 gm finely chopped almonds
- Preheat oven to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
- Prepare a 4 ½ cm (1¾ inch) deep, 23cm x 33cm (9”x 13”) baking pan by lining with non-stick paper. Sift the cornflour and baking powder at least 3 times.
- Place eggs, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Using the whisk attachment of your electric mixer beat on high for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes add vanilla and beat on high for another 5 minutes. The mixture should have at least tripled in size, be light in colour and very foamy.
- Sift flour mixture over the egg mixture. Do so gently so as not to deflate the eggs.Use a large metal spoon r a rubber spatula to lightly fold the flour in. Heavy handling now will result in a flat tough sponge. If you are using butter, thoroughly fold it in now but lightly.
- Spread mixture into your prepared pan and smooth out evenly.
- Bake in preheated moderate oven for 22-25 minutes. The sponge will rise quite a lot but then settle back down. Don’t be tempted to open the oven to peak. When baked the sponge will have shrunk very slightly from the sides and springy when pressed gently.
- Turn the sponge out immediately onto a wire rack to cool and reverse sponge so as not to mark the top. Allow to cool. It is best to keep the cake for a day before making the Lamingtons as the cake will be easier to handle.
- For the icing/ coating -Sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a heatproof bowl. Stir in the butter and ½ cup milk. Set the bowl over a pan of hot water. Stir until icing is smooth adding more milk to thin the icing if needed. You may need more than ½ cup but not quite ¾ cup of milk.
- To assemble the Lamingtons:Cut the sponge cake into 24 rectangular pieces – 6 across and 4 down. Keep the icing over the hot water to keep it melted. Place desiccated coconut and almonds in a shallow bowl. Dip each piece into the chocolate icing. Allow excess to drip off then toss gently into the coconut. Stand cakes on a wire rack to set, about 2 hours.
NOTES: For an 8”by 8” cake, which will make 16 Lamingtons, I suggest using 3/5th of the measure of ingredients. Example- 3 eggs, 135 gms sugar, 1 tsp melted butter…etc. Slice cake cubes into half and slather with a filling of your choice, put them back together and dip into the icing.