My perfect alone time is at the end of the day, in bed with a glass of wine and Instagram. There are so many amazing pastry chefs, bakeries, and home bakers out there creating gorgeous product and uploading pictures to be scrolled through and drooled over. It is one of my favorite places to draw inspiration or lust after beautiful food.
Due to all the Australian bakeries I follow, one of the items I have been seeing pop up on a regular basis are cute little cake squares called lamingtons.
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These simple yet elegant squares are made up of a vanilla sponge cake, filling of either chocolate or a fruit jam, coated in chocolate and dredged in coconut. There are a variety of stories as to the origin, but most seem to involve a chap named Lord Lamington, his wife, Lady Lamington, and their chef, who either (depending on the tale) dropped cake into chocolate by mistake or needed a quick dessert for a dinner party finale. Either way, Lamingtons are a beloved and regular fixture in Australia, selling at bakeries and bake sales alike.
I love the look of the lamingtons, with their rustic exterior that is forgiving in perfection when dipped in chocolate and coated in coconut, yet they are perfectly acceptable adorning a pastry table.
For my lamingtons, I decided to use a fruit jam filling. While some can't tolerate fruit and chocolate, I love the combination and had to break out some of my marmalade.
A couple of tips before you get baking.
• Use a square cake pan, as it makes it a million times easier to cut into equal pieces. I also like to put parchment paper in the pan to assist with the removal of the cake.
• Most recipes I've checked into call for desiccated, unsweetened coconut. Definitely consider using this in lieu of the shredded coconut we all have in the back of our pantry. The desiccated is much dryer and easier to coat the cake. The combination of the chocolate, cake and filling make the cake plenty sweet, so sweetened coconut is not needed.
• Experiment with your fillings. Jams, jellies, cream fillings. Have fun and make these your own.
• I added some coconut oil to my chocolate before coating. You can use canola oil, but I love coconut oil personally, which is why I used it here.
• You can use all-purpose flour in this recipe however I find that it makes the cake a bit denser. It will still be delicious.
• I use weights to bake. I love my scale, and it cost me only $35. I use it for all my recipes, and if you are an avid baker, I suggest you get a scale to work with, as it makes your baking much more precise.
There are plenty of recipes out there for Lamingtons, and I am by no means an expert. So have some fun, try out a bunch of different cakes and fillings, and enjoy!
For the cake:
7 Eggs, Large 180 g Granulated Sugar 225g Cake Flour ½ tsp Fine Sea Salt 58 g Unsalted Butter, Melted & Cooled 2 TBSP Sour Cream 1 ½ tsp. Vanilla Extract or Vanilla Paste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a square 9-inch pan and layer with parchment paper.
In your mixer, place eggs and granulated sugar. Whip them till they are pale, fluffy, and to ribbon stage -- when you hold the whip above the egg-sugar mixture, make a figure eight, and it hold on the surface of your mixture. This may take about five to eight minutes.
Sift in flour and salt in three installments, folding after each addition, but be cautious not to over mix. After your last installment of flour, while it hasn't been fully incorporated, drizzle in your butter, vanilla and sour cream, folding until everything is just incorporated.
Pour cake batter into the greased pan and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until slightly golden and a toothpick comes out clean.
Allow cake to cool slightly before removing from pan. Allow cake to cool completely before layering.
200g of jam or marmalade (you can use chocolate or buttercream or anything your heart desires!)
Heat jam or marmalade slight in a small pot. You want the marmalade to soften, making it easier to spread, but not completely drizzle out of the cake.
176 g Bittersweet Chocolate 2 tsp. Coconut Oil
Over a double boiler, melt the chocolate. Once melted, add in the coconut oil, and mix until combine. Allow the chocolate mixture to cool slightly before dunking your cake.
Cut the cake in half, just as you would if you were layering a birthday cake. Spread the warmed marmalade between the layers, then place them back together. Cut your square in half, then cut each of those halves in half. You will end up with four rows. Rotate, and make the same cuts the opposite way, leaving you with 16 layered squares.
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Dunk your cake, by hand, in the chocolate. Dredge the chocolate coated cake square in the desiccated coconut. Reserve one hand for chocolate dunk and one hand for coconut dredging, for cleanest results. Allow the cakes to set for a bit.
Eat and be merry!
Rachel Miller is a pastry chef and food writer in Phoenix, where she bakes, eats, and single-handedly keeps her local cheese shop in business. You can get more information about her pastry at www.pistolwhippedpastry.com, or on her blog at www.croissantinthecity.com.