When I was a little kid growing up in New Zealand, a trip to the local bakery was the highlight of my week. Peering into the cabinets piled high with delicious goodies, one cake above all others could tempt me. Lamingtons.
The 21st of July is National Lamington Day in Australia, so today I’m sharing my recipe for these delicious little cakes.
What are Lamingtons?
Lamingtons are squares or rectangles of light and fluffy sponge cake coated in a layer of chocolate and rolled in desiccated coconut.
Invented for Lord Lamington who was the Governor of Queensland from 1896-1901, these sweet little treats are one of Australia’s most famous recipes. Lamingtons are a beloved tea-time speciality in Aussie and New Zealand, and I know you are going to love them too!
Who invented Lamingtons?
As with many traditional recipes, some of the details of the invention of lamingtons are a bit hazy, though it’s likely that Lord Lamington’s French chef, Armand Galland, was the true creator of these cakes. Some stories say that he came up with the idea as a way of using up stale cake, while others have a maid accidentally dropping cake into chocolate.
(Though I do rather like the idea of Lord L. popping on a pinny and whipping up a batch for afternoon tea!)
A national icon
Lamingtons are so popular in their homeland that they have become a beloved national icon, often baked on Australia Day. You’ll find these sweet treats the length and breadth of the country in bakeries, bake sales, fairs and fundraisers.
Lamingtons are an old-fashioned cake, so you only need simple ingredients which are mostly pantry staples:
- Eggs: I use medium-sized eggs which weigh approximately 63g (2.2 oz.) For the best, fluffiest results, use room temperature eggs.
- Sugar and vanilla extract: To sweeten and flavour the vanilla sponge.
- Flour and cornstarch: This mixture will give the cake a lovely, delicate crumb.
- Butter: I always use unsalted butter in baking, as that way you can control the level of salt in the finished product.
- Cocoa powder: Look for unsweetened, Dutch Process cocoa powder. This has a dark colour and a rich, chocolatey flavour which makes the chocolate coating absolutely irresistible.
- Desiccated coconut: For rolling the lamingtons in.
How to make Lamingtons
There are two main stages to making lamingtons, making the sponge and dipping in the chocolate glaze.
- First, make the sponge by beating eggs and sugar together until pale and fluffy. It’s best to do this with an electric mixer or hand mixer so you can get as much air into the mixture as possible.
- Next, gently fold in the dry ingredients and add the butter. Pour the mixture into a lined cake pan and bake until risen and golden brown, approximately 30 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack.
- When the sponge cake has cooled, cut into cubes using a large serrated knife and freeze for an hour or two. (This will stop the sponge from falling apart when you’re trying to dip the lamingtons in the chocolate sauce and save your sanity).
- Lastly, whisk together the ingredients for the chocolate glaze, dip the sponge cubes, roll in coconut and leave the coated cakes to set. Delicious!
Lamingtons have changed a little bit since I was growing up, getting bigger and more over the top as the years go by. A classic lamington is simply dipped in chocolate and coconut, however, sometimes the sponge is sandwiched together with a layer of jam.
If you want to go for some seriously decadent lamingtons, cut them in half and serve them with a good quality raspberry or strawberry jam and plenty of whipped cream.
- Sponge cakes are delicate things, so try not to leap around in front of the oven while the cake is cooking, put it in the oven and go and have a cup of coffee or tea instead of pacing around the kitchen.
- I’m not going to lie to you, icing the lamingtons makes a mess, so prepare a nice clear working space before you start.
- It’s best to keep the glaze warm (I put it on top of a pot of warm water) to that it doesn’t thicken as you dip the sponge.You can also give it a quick zap in the microwave to loosen it up again.
- You will end up with extra chocolate icing, I keep it in the fridge or freezer and pour it over ice cream. (Yum!)
- Work with the coconut in batches, changing it when it gets full of chocolate.
- Always freeze the cake before dipping it, it makes it much easier to work with.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why is there no baking powder in this recipe?
This is a classic sponge cake that doesn’t need baking powder. All the air and rise in the cake come from beating air into the eggs.
How long do lamingtons keep?
Several days in a cool place. I keep mine in an airtight container in the fridge, especially in warm weather.
Can I freeze lamingtons?
Yes, you can. Lamingtons freeze really well!
Can I make Gluten Free Lamingtons?
Yes, use your favourite GF flour. Replace the cornstarch with two tablespoons of your GF flour mix.
for the sponge cake:
- 4 medium eggs, room temperature
- 125g (½ cup) white sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 100g (¾ cup) plain flour
- 2 Tbsp cornflour / corn starch
- pinch of sea salt
- 50g (4 Tbsp or ½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
for the chocolate glaze:
- 250g (8.8 oz.) icing / powdered sugar, sifted
- 6 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted (see notes)
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 60g (4 Tbsp / ½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 2-3 cups desiccated unsweetened coconut
- whipped cream and raspberry jam (optional)
- PREPARE: Heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas 4. Grease the base of a 20c (8 in.) square cake pan, line with baking parchment paper and grease the paper with butter.
- BEAT THE EGGS: Combine the eggs, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer. With the whisk attachment fitted, beat the egg mixture until very pale and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes.
- ADD THE DRY INGREDIENTS: Sift over the flour, corn flour and salt, then use a spatula to gently but thoroughly fold the dry ingredients through the egg mixture. Pour in the melted butter and stir to combine.
- BAKE: Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan, tap the pan twice on the counter to disperse any large air bubbles, then bake in the middle of the preheated oven for 30 minutes, until the cake has risen and starting to pull away from the edges of the pan.
- COOL: Remove from the oven, allow the cake to cool for 5 minutes in the cake pan, then line a wire rack with baking paper (this stops the cake from sticking to the rack) and turn the cake out to cool completely.
- SLICE AND FREEZE: When the cake has completely cooled, use a large serrated knife to trim the edges then slice into 9 neat squares. Freeze for at least 1 hour.
- MAKE THE CHOCOLATE ICING: Whisk the icing sugar, cocoa powder and salt together in a medium bowl. Stir in the butter and 7-8 tablespoons of boiling water until you have a thin, pouring consistency. (See notes for tips).
- GLAZE AND DECORATE: Spread half of the coconut over a large plate. Working one at a time, use two forks to dip and turn each sponge cube in the chocolate glaze until covered. Allow any excess to drip off, then use two forks to roll in the coconut. Transfer to a plate and repeat with all remaining sponge cubes, replacing coconut when necessary.
- CHILL: Chill the lamingtons for at least half an hour until set. If you’re feeling decadent, serve with whipped cream and raspberry jam.
- 1 medium egg weighs approx 63g (2.2 oz.)
- If you don't have an electric stand mixer, a handheld electric egg beater is also suitable for this recipe.
- Imperial measurements are approximate. I use and thoroughly recommend a digital kitchen scale like the one below.
- Australians, icing mixture is fine to use, it is just icing sugar with some cornflour in it to stop it clumping.
- The chocolate glaze will thicken on standing. I boil the water for the glaze in a saucepan and then set the bowl on top to keep it liquid. You can also give it a quick zap in the microwave if it gets too firm. Don’t be tempted to add more water.
- For best results use unsweetened ‘Dutch Process’ cocoa powder. Aussies, Woolworth's brand cocoa powder is Dutch Processed.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 9 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 558Total Fat: 42gSaturated Fat: 35gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 80mgSodium: 150mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 10gSugar: 19gProtein: 9g
Nutrition information is calculated automatically and isn’t always accurate.