Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Lamingtons - Happy Australia Day!

Lamingtons - made January 24, 2012 from (click on title to go to the site)

January 26 is Australia Day and a year ago almost to the day, I was in Australia for the first time at the start of a 3-week tour of Australia and New Zealand.  So it seems fitting that I make a recipe of one of the (many) foods I tried in Australia.  There were lots of choices: meat pie (love), lamingtons (yum), camel (no), kangaroo (really, no), crocodile (tastes like chicken but still "no"), pavlova and ANZAC biscuits.  There's some controversy whether pavlova was invented by the Aussies or the Kiwis so I wasn't going to go there.  At first I wanted to make ANZAC biscuits for Australia Day but it turns out there's an ANZAC Day in April.  Plus, since ANZAC stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps, it would still be sharing the spotlight with New Zealand.  Nothing wrong with that but since this is Australia Day, I decided to go with lamingtons which can be genuinely attributed to Baron Lamington, a governor of Queensland, Australia in the early 1900s.

I tried a lamington in Kuranda on a day trip where I held a koala, took a scenic train ride through the mountains and rode a gondola over some majestic views.  So not only was it a memorable day, but, hey, the lamington was pretty good too.  In case you missed my blog post about it last year, a lamington is a light vanilla cake covered in chocolate icing and dusted with coconut.  I went to to search for a recipe.  This one got good reviews so I decided to try it out.  The only thing I changed is the pan size.  The recipe calls for an 8 x 12 pan but I don't have that size pan so I went with a 9 x 9 pan.
view from the top
One of the things I liked best about the lamington I had in Kuranda was the added texture from the coconut sprinkled over the chocolate icing.  I didn't use as much coconut as the recipe called for (at most I used 1 cup) and I toasted it golden brown first, let it cool, then crumbled them into smaller bits.  Although it's a little difficult to tell from the picture of the lamington I had in Kuranda, the coconut they used was much more fine than the flakes we can buy in the States so I thought toasting and crumbling the coconut flakes might help.

I really liked this cake.  The texture wasn't as soft and fluffy as the one I had in Australia but it was still a good vanilla cake with the taste reminiscent of a cakey Filipino bibingka.  I loved the texture of the toasted coconut as well.  The icing is runny so if you don't want it to soak into the cake but rather stay on top of it or adhere to the sides, make sure the cake is completely cool and the icing has also somewhat cooled to lukewarm or a bit warmer.  Otherwise it will have a tendency to soak into the cake itself.  But don't let it cool too much or it will thicken into a frosting.  Because you're supposed to enrobe the cake in the icing, it's best to cut these small, like a petit four size as the icing makes it pretty rich.  Use a dark cocoa in the icing to offset a bit of the sweetness.

The inside look
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk

4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
2 (8 ounce) packages flaked coconut

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line a 9 x 9" rectangular pan with foil and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray. 
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup butter, 3/4 cup sugar and the vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk; beat well.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. Store overnight to give the cake a chance to firm up before Icing.
  5. To make the icing: In a large bowl, combine confectioners' sugar and cocoa. In a saucepan, heat milk and 2 tablespoons butter until the butter is melted. Add the milk to the sugar mixture and mix well to create a fluid, but not too runny, icing.
  6. Cut the cake into 24 squares. Place coconut in a shallow container. Using a fork, dip each square into the icing, then roll it in the coconut. Place onto rack to dry. Continue for each piece. The Icing will drip, so place a sheet of parchment paper under the rack to catch the drips.

Cast Party Wednesday

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