Lamingtons

A fail safe and delicious recipe for the Australian icon, the lamington.

Sponge, chocolate, coconut. What is not to love?
Sponge, chocolate, coconut. What is not to love?

There was a time in high school we did a lamington drive to raise money for some charity. The organisation we were helping has long left my head but the memory of buying six dozen lamingtons under false names and eating them all myself has not. (See also: bulimia.)

I have banned myself from buying the Woolworths lamington fingers purely because I KNOW I could eat the entire packet. In one sitting. I never have, but the knowledge that I COULD is enough.

This recipe comes from my kitchen bible – Allan Campion & Michele Curtis’s In The Kitchen. I refer to this cookbook more than any other and every single thing I’ve made from it has always worked and been delicious. I’m not sure it’s still in print but if you find a copy grab it.

This is fiddly and messy but totally worth it.

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Lamingtons
 
An iconic Australian cake with sponge rolled in chocolate and coconut.
Author:
Ingredients
For the cake
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • ⅔ cup plain flour
For the icing
  • 3 cups icing sugar
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • ¾ cup water
  • 4 cups desiccated coconut
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180C and line a lamington tin with greaseproof paper and then grease it and dust with flour
  2. Beat the eggs and caster sugar together until very thick and really pale in colour then gently fold in the flour (this is a sponge so go lightly, you don't want to knock out all that air you whipped into the eggs and sugar
  3. Pour into tin, smooth the batter and bake for about 10 minutes or until golden on top
  4. Cool in the tin for a few minutes then lift out and peel off the baking paper. Cool completely
For the icing
  1. Put the icing sugar, cocoa and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil, whisking well
  2. Reduce heat and simmer for a couple of minutes then remove from the heat and cool a little
  3. Now get ready to get messy.
  4. Set up a workstation with the cake cut into squares, then the chocolate sauce, then a wire rack and then a shallow dish holding the coconut and then another wire rack
  5. Dip the sponge in the chocolate until all covered - I use to forks to turn the cake over in the mixture - then put onto the wire rack to let any excess drip off
  6. Roll the pieces in the coconut then onto the final wire rack to dry
  7. Eat them all.

 

Onward!

 

Lemon ricotta cake

coming together nicely

I have a go to flourless orange cake which I adore, but the other day had some divine paesanella ricotta hanging around that needed to be used. Seeing as I’m doing the whole no carbs with fat/protein and no refined carbs a nifty little batch of ricotta gnocchi was out of the question (quietly sobs) and I was at a bit of a loss when I came across this Ben O’Donoghue and thought BINGO! It has a smidge of (semolina) flour in it but I was willing to overlook it. I love Ben’s recipes and he was always my favourite in Surfing the Menu. Curtis Stone is just a little to much of a show-pony-pretty-boy for my cooking likes.

‘My’ custard powder pastry recipe and the associated free-form apple pie is his Nan’s and I reckon that’s pretty cool.

So let’s get on with it.

Rather tasty

Lemon ricotta cake (in which I used oranges)

Recipe from: At home with Ben, Ben O’Donoghue

  • 225g butter
  • 250g sugar
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 250g ground almonds
  • 65g semolina flour
  • Juice of 3 lemons
  • Rind of 6 lemons
  • 300g ricotta
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 160C and grease and line a 26cm springform cake tin
  2. Beat the butter and sugar until very pale then add the egg yolks one at a time
  3. Combine the almond meal, semolina, half the lemon zest and half the juice (although when I made it with oranges I added all the zest because I didn’t read the recipe properly. Rookie mistake) and fold into the butter and sugar mixture
  4. Crumble in the ricotta and fold through (Ben appears to leave it in little chunks whereas my ricotta was wetter so was more incorporated)
  5. Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks and then fold through the mixture
  6. Pour into the tin and bake for 40mins or until a skewer comes out clean (I find with flourless cakes the time can vary massively – just persevere and cover with foil if you’re worried the top is getting too dark)
  7. Make a syrup with the remaining juice, zest, 1/2 cup of sugar and a cup of water by bringing it to the boil then reducing by half (I sort of forgot to read this bit and just made a syrup of equal parts sugar and juice)
  8. Pour over the cake and eat until you can eat no more.
just a wafer monsieur

 

Onward!

 

 

Basic buttercake: Dubious Decoration

So I cook and cook well. I bake awesome desserts, slices, cakes, biscuits. I make bloody good jam. I have mastered most breads and forms of pastry.

But this cooking Superwoman has her kryponite. Behold:

Thomas the Effing Engine cake
Scary Thomas
Chocolate layer cake
structurally unsound
rocket cake
Penis cake, resplendent with balls
rocket cake 2
Anatomically correct
rocket 3
Rocket v2
Rocket 4
should have learnt from past structurally unsound incidents
Lego cake
Lego cake that looks like it’s been through a lawn mower

 

Yeah, me and themed cakes never end well.

For Grover’s actual birthday on Monday I was making a simple delicious buttercake with lemon icing. But I was tired (remember, an epic weekend which I’ve just realised I haven’t told you about) and when my beautiful, simple, buttercake came out of the oven Grover collapsed on the floor wailing he’d wanted a lego cake. I too my eye off the prize people, making the rookie mistake of not distracting, reminding, reassuring that there’d be a poorly constructed ugly ode to food colouring themed cake* at his party this Sunday. No. Instead I did this:

Lego cake 2
He’s asked for a Tardis shaped cake for Sunday…

But look, that cake creation may be so far below par but the cake, the cake is awesome.

This is a simple, plain, delicious buttercake. It’s perfect for birthday cakes you just want to eat or need to turn into a dinosaur, fairy, clocktower or, God help me, the Tardis. I’ve made this the traditional way – beat the butter and sugar, add the eggs etc – and the throw caution to the wind way  – put it all in a food processor and blend until all combined and pale. I know, every time I do it like that I feel like cackling and shouting FRAUD but it works. Goddammit it works.

Traditional buttercake

  • 250g butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups SR flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line a 24cm springform cake tin
  2. Cream butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, incorporating well after each one
  4. Fold in the flour, milk and vanilla
  5. Pour into the cake tin and bake 40-45 minutes or when cake bounces back to gentle touch and has pulled away from the cake tin

Now, you can either top it with melted butter and lashings of cinnamon sugar (I KNOW) or ice it with your choice of icing. That debacle up there was iced with my bog standard lemon icing – icing sugar (2 1/2 cups?), softened butter (about a dessert spoon) and lemon juice until it’s at a good consistency.

 

Onward!

Apple Slice

When I was in primary school we lived on Sydney’s North Shore in a suburb called Lindfield. If we won lotto I would probably spontaneously start looking at houses in Lindfield such is my love of that place, nevermind it is 30 years later and it has changed more than I care to accept or that our lives are now firmly etched into Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Lindfield and indeed the North Shore calls me back time and time again.

apple slice layer 2
Every slice needs a good foundation

We had a little row of shops just across from the train station. There was Mr Steenbolm’s chemist, our doctor down the laneway, an old lady’s dress shop, a milk bar (owned by the compulsory and seemingly only Greek family in the area) and best of all, the cake shop. Most Saturday’s mum would take my brother and I to the cake shop for a treat. Mine? A pineapple passionfruit  tart while my brother used to get a sausage roll. My GOD those sausage rolls were good.

There was a glass L-shaped counter, one side taken up solely with display cakes for birthdays, anniversaries and other celebrations. Remember when you would get those little figurines to sit on the top of the cake? I still have the ballerinas and Mum still has the cricketers that appeared on our respective cakes for years.

Apple Slice
Appley goodness

The other side was a hotbed of mock cream and sugar. Neenish tarts, Pineapple Passionfruit tarts, those marzipan green frog tarts (which I once begged mum for and proceeded to scar me for life on all things marzipan), palmiers, meringue mice, big fat wedges of vanilla slice, custard tarts showered in nutmeg, gingerbread men and a sugar topped apple slice. I must confess that apple slice never piqued my imagination as there was so much else vying for my attention. But then Fiona at Inner Pickle posted a recipe for an apple slice and all of a sudden I was 8 and back in that cake shop.

Apple Slice Top Layer
Ready for cookin’

This is now on such high rotation in our house that if there is none people, Jasper in particular, get antsy. It is his absolute favourite above all else. It has kicked my lemon curd slice to the curb and THAT is saying something.

Apple Slice adoration
Get in my mouth

Apple Slice
Fiona at Inner Pickle

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 125g butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups of stewed apples (no added sugar)
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line a 27x13cm tin (I just make mine in a 20cm square tin)
  2. Process the flour, baking powder, sugar and butter  in a food processor and then add the egg (don’t worry that the dough seems quite crumbly, it comes together)
  3. Divide the dough in two and roll out to fit the tin
  4. Top with the apple, then roll out the other half of pastry and place over the top (don’t get precious about it, if it breaks it breaks, I call this “rustic”)
  5. Brush the top with some milk and then scatter over caster sugar
  6. Bake for 25minutes
  7. Leave it in the tin and don’t cut it until it’s cool (it will totally fall apart if you do, ask me how I know) then store in the fridge.

So good. So very very good.

 

Apple Slice fresh from the oven
Straight from the oven

 

The Rotary Ladies cake

Cinnamon makes the world go round.

This recipe was introduced to my by Bec, my partner in blogging crime way back when we blogged together on Glamorouse. My GOD I can’t believe that was SEVEN years ago.

Anyway, this is carrot cake made better. A humingbird cake but not. There was a story behind it which I can no longer recall but the cake, this cake is my absolute favourite. That’s right. More than a chocolate one or a simple butter cake, this, this is my Queen of Cakes.

Baking makes some people nervous but really, it’s just about slowing down and going with it. This cake (below) I only lightly drained the pineapple and dumped the whole can in rather than the designated 1/2 cup. I then did 2 heaped cups of SR flour instead and voila, perfection.

Cake perfection

 

Heaven on a plate

Rotary Ladies Cake

  • 2 heaped cups self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups grated carrot (3 small-medium carrots)
  • 3/4 cup dessicated coconut
  • 1 440g can crushed pinapple, drained
  • 1/2 cup sultanas or raisins
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (or nut of choice, or leave out altogether as I often do)
  1.  Preheat the oven to 180C, line a 24cm or rectangular cake tin
  2. Combine the wet ingredients in a bowl then stir in the dry
  3. Add the carrot, fruit and nuts then pour into the tin
  4. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until it bounces back at a light touch or a knife comes out clean
  5. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out and cool on a cake rack
  6. You can leave it un-iced, perfectly acceptable or put a simple lemon glaze on it (icing sugar mixed with enough lemon juice to pour over the cake) or a cream cheese icing.
  7. Devour.
Wet ingredients