Reinventing the lamington

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Purists read no further. I have committed sacrilege against the humble lamington.

plate of lamingtons

What is a lamington I hear you ask?
It is a piece of sponge cake dipped in chocolate icing (usually made from cocoa powder, icing sugar and water), then rolled in dessicated coconut. For more information on this typical Australian treat, here’s a link to the lamington entry on Wikipedia
I find the idea behind the lamington technique very appealing and simple. So I set out to see how many flavour combinations I could get by using the “dip and roll” technique. We were heading to our friends J&E’s place for dinner, so I had some taste test guinea pigs.

Jazzing it up

I started off by baking a genoise using the recipe and techniques in my favourite book The Cake Bible. (You can download the genoise recipe from Rose Beranbaum’s website

This really is a foolproof recipe because the genoise baked successfully even in my wonky oven. Yes, a confession - I have been baking with only one element for over 6 months now, and I’ve developed all sorts of tricks to help me get away with it. For example, I put the cake tin as close to the front of the oven as possible, then I compensate by placing a strip of foil over the part of the cake tin that receives the strongest heat. And I always use an oven thermometer.

Flavours to savour.

Here are the flavours I tried. Some to please the mini-critics and others more suited to an adult’s palate:

Caramel and honeycomb lamington
Caramel and sea salt lamington
Raspberry and white chocolate lamington
Chocolate and orange lamington
Chocolate and mint lamington
Orange and chocolate lamington
White chocolate and chilli lamington
Coffee and pecan lamington

white chocolate and chilli

I’d decided to make them really small (petit four size) so we could try all the different flavours without feeling sick by the end of it. They also looked really good arranged on the plate.

The caramel family

caramel pouring from jug
I started with a simple caramel sauce, made by stirring together about ½ cup brown sugar and ¾ cup cream in a microwave safe jug. I then microwaved the mixture in short bursts of about 40 secs, stirring between each zap. Alternatively, simmer the mixture in a small saucepan on the stove until thick. Leave to cool for a bit.

The caramel had set quite stiff by the time I was ready to use it. So I warmed up about ½ cup of it in a microwave safe bowl along with a smallish teaspoon of butter to help it flow better. It was still so thick that I found the best way to coat the small sponge cake pieces was to spread the caramel on with an icing spatula.

caramel lamingtons
Place the caramel cake pieces on baking paper to dry out a little, then coat with either crushed honeycomb (I used a Violet Crumble bar), or sea salt (I used Australian Murray River Pink Salt flakes which I thought quite apt).

The chocolate family.

The coating is just a simple ganache (equal parts cream and chocolate). I then made two different sugars - an orange sugar and a mint sugar. The technique is similar to making flavoured salts.

Orange sugar.
Zest from ½ orange
2 teaspoons sugar
Pound together ingredients in mortar and pestle. Spread to dry on baking paper.

orange choc lamington

Mint sugar.
1 tbs chopped mint leaves
2 tbsp sugar
Pound ingredients together in mortar and pestle. Spread to dry on baking paper.

mint choc lamington

Dip the cake pieces in the chocolate while the ganache is still liquid. Set on baking paper to dry out a little, until just tacky. Sprinkle flavoured sugar on all sides to coat. If sprinkled on when the ganache is still wet, the sugar will just dissolve.

Orange and chocolate lamington
I had a very small container of mandarin caramel leftover from a previous recipe. I added a couple of drops of warm water to the caramel to make it a little easier to work with. I then used a pastry brush to brush the caramel onto the cake pieces. Then I rolled the pieces in chopped dark chocolate.

Raspberry and white chocolate lamington

raspberry lamington
This was by far the simplest to make and the closest in texture to a “real” lamington. I defrosted a cupful of frozen raspberries and pushed it through a sieve to get a fine puree. I added a teaspoon of icing sugar to sweeten. (If the puree looks too thin, reduce it over low heat or leave uncovered overnight in the fridge).

I dipped the cake pieces in the raspberry puree and rolled it in grated white chocolate.

White chocolate and chilli lamington
I made some white chocolate ganache and some candied chilli strips. Slice some fresh chillies finely, removing seeds and inner membrane. Use the same technique as for making candied peel. You can find it in a previous post here.

white choc chilli lamington

Coffee and pecan lamington

coffee pecan lamington
Mix together some coffee and kahlua (I used about 2 tbsp coffee and 1 tsp Kahlua). Dip the cake pieces in the mixture then roll in chopped pecans or chopped pecan praline.

The verdict? E loved the white chocolate and chilli lamington as well as the raspberry one. The mini-critics LOVED the caramel honeycomb version. The J and Mr Kitchen hand pretty much ate every flavour (being boys).

I’m definitely going to try more flavour combinations another time. Any recommendations?


Y said...

Wow, that's a whole lotta lamington on a plate! Love the presentation of the raspberry one :)

shaz said...

Thank you Y! I was really pleased with the raspberry one, it was so simple, definitely making that one again.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

This is AMAZING! I would be so delighted to be served these. I'm sure this would turn around the most jaded lamington eater!

shaz said...

Thanks Lorraine... I'm actually one of those jaded lamington eaters, I don't really like "normal" lamingtons *gasp*.

betty said...

this is AWESOME!!! genius!

i just made my first batch of lamingtons the other day so i think its time for me to experiment.. :P