What do Aussies do on Australia Day?
If you are a true Aussie, there are 5 things you do on Australia Day:
- Watch the Australia Day Test cricket match on the telly (unless you are going to the match).
- Have a BBQ.
- Have Triple J’s Hottest 100 blaring from some sort of audio source (the top 100 songs of the previous year as voted by the Australian public).
- Wear something that has some sort of Australian reference on it (usually the flag, but the boxing kangaroo is acceptable).
- Eat lamingtons.
For as long as I can remember at school, I used to buy myself a lamington for recess (the first break of the day) almost every day. And I loved them. Being Vietnamese, lamingtons weren’t a snack of choice at home, but it was certainly the ‘it’ thing at school. For those playing at home who are not familiar with the Aussie lamington, it is a square piece of sponge cake that is dipped in chocolate icing and covered with desiccated coconut. It sounds really simple, with only 3 major ingredients (being the cake, icing and coconut) but it is really, really tasty. I haven’t made lamingtons before (very un-Australian, although I’ve eaten plenty), so I thought I would get in touch with my inner Australian and make them for Australia Day. You can eat these as they are or get a bit fancy; cut them in half, then sandwich a layer of cream and strawberry jam between the two halves. It’s kind of like having a Victoria Sponge, only with chocolate icing and coconut….kind of. Anyway, this recipe will give you 24 smallish lamingtons.
125g butter, softened
1 cup caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
1¾ cups self raising flour
½ cup milk
3 cups icing sugar, sifted
¾ cup cocoa powder, sifted
⅓ cup boiling water
75g butter, melted
2 cups desiccated coconut, to coat
Preheat oven to 160°C (fan forced).
Grease a 3cm-deep, 20cm x 30cm (base) lamington pan. If you don’t have a lamington pan, any square or rectanglar pan with high sides will do. Line with baking paper, leaving a 2cm overhang on all sides (this will make it easier to get the sponge out of the pan later). Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition making sure you scrape the sides of the bowl so that each egg is well incorporated. The mixture may look like it’s curdled but don’t worry, it will all come together when you finish adding the eggs.
Sift half the flour over the butter mixture. Fold in the flour gently, with a metal spoon (this will help your sponge be light and airy). Add half the milk. Fold until combined. Repeat with remaining flour and milk. Spoon mixture into your prepared pan. Smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in centre comes out clean. Stand in pan for 10 minutes. Turn the sponge out onto a wire rack. If you put a clean tea towel on your wire rack before turning the sponge out, you will eliminate getting rack marks on your sponge. Cover with cling wrap and chuck it in the fridge overnight. Chilling the sponge in the fridge will make the sponge easier to cut and apply the icing.
Cut the sponge into 5cm squares (approximately).
Sift together the icing sugar and cocoa. Mix in the boiling water and melted butter. The icing should be runny, so if it isn’t add a little milk to loosen it. Some recipes recommend dipping the sponge into the icing and others recommend lining up a few pieces of sponge on a wire rack over a baking tray and pouring the icing over the top. I have found using a fork to hold the sponge and using a spoon or small ladle to pour the icing over the top until the entire square is covered is easier and less messy. Once the sponge is covered, remove any excess icing and roll in desiccated coconut. Place lamingtons on a wire rack over a baking tray, and leave to stand for a couple of hours until the icing has set. They will keep for about a week in an airtight container.
Note: The chocolate icing will thicken over time, so if this happens, zap it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds and stir in a little milk. If you are finding the sponge softening and hard to handle during icing, chuck the sponge back in the fridge for an hour or so to harden up. I’ve referred to two recipes for these lamingtons, the recipe for the sponge is from Taste.com, and the recipe for the icing is from Donna Hay.