A Lamington is a little piece of sponge cake dipped in a chocolate coating and rolled in coconut. We've been eating these for years but never called them Lamingtons. I don't even know what we called them, maybe: "Those Cake Things Rolled In Coconut". Australians lay claim to their origin and that's all right by me. I don't know if they traveled to Newfoundland via Australia or if some thrifty Newfoundland housewife just stumbled upon them trying to save a bit of stale cake. However they came here is irrelevant at this point in time.
The other day I happened to have quite a bit of cake on hand that I needed to use up. I made a Hot Milk Sponge Cake for the bottom layer of a wedding cake I will be making later on this week and the cake sank in the middle (Oh, horrors!). I had this huge 10-inch cake that wasn't bad enough to throw out but not good enough for the wedding cake. What to do? One can only eat so much cake, you know. And then I thought about these little gems. I wasn't long slicing up the offending cake and turning it into a tasty treat for family and friends.
Sponge cake is definitely the best cake to use for these but any cake will do if you don't want the bother of making a homemade sponge cake. Even a cake mix will do nicely. The real secret to these is to let the cake rest at least a day before you cut it up and then let the Lamingtons rest overnight after making them. Of course you don't have to do that. They can be baked, cooled, cut, dipped, rolled and eaten all within the same day if you like.
The recipe below looks complicated but it's not. I've included a couple of flavour variations. It's just as I stated above: a piece of cake dipped in a chocolate coating and rolled in coconut. You really don't even need a recipe for the method of putting them together. I have included links to cakes and two extra chocolate coatings. If you have lots of Easter or holiday chocolate hanging around the house, use a very thin Ganache recipe. If you have cocoa use either the Chocolate Cocoa Sauce (recipe below) or a thin Chocolate Icing. Either one of these three recipes will give you a good base for the coconut coating.
I use unsweetened fine or medium shred dessicated coconut as both of those shreds will cling nicely to the cake. If you cannot find unsweetened coconut, use the sweetened kind. What's a little more sugar when we're talking cake!
1 9x13-inch Hot Milk Sponge Cake or any white or yellow or plain cake
1½-2 cups chocolate syrup/sauce (recipe below) or thin Ganache or thin Chocolate Icing.
3-4 cups fine or medium shred unsweetened dessicated coconut
Bake your favourite cake. Make it the day before, if possible. I find a sponge cake works best. I use the Hot Milk Sponge Cake but any white or yellow cake will work including pound cake. Let the cake cool, overnight if possible. Using a serrated knife trim the sides off the cake. Cut the cake in even squares or rectangles. Trim off the bottom and top crusts. By now you will have completely "skinned" the cake. You will have about 24-30 pieces from a 9x13-inch cake.
Place half the coconut in a shallow bowl, refilling as needed.
Warm the chocolate sauce/icing/ganache and place some of it in another shallow bowl, refilling as needed.
Take each piece of cake and coat thoroughly in the chocolate sauce. You may use 2 forks to manoeuver the cake but I find using my hands best. Keep one hand clean if you can. You may need to wash the chocolate and coconut off your hands every now and then to keep things neat.
When the cake piece is coated in chocolate, roll in the coconut until all sides are coated. Place on a tray or plate and repeat with the remaining cake pieces. Store Lamingtons in a covered container. They will taste best the day after making as the chocolate will have soaked into the top layer of the cake.
Makes 24-30 Lamingtons
Chocolate Cocoa Dipping Syrup/Sauce (my favourite coating)
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup cocoa
½ cup water
2 tablespoon butter, optional
Dash of salt
Sift the cocoa and sugar together into a medium sized saucepan. Add the water and stir to combine. Bring to a slow boil and add the butter and salt. Simmer until slightly reduced and thickened. Add vanilla.
You may wish to try different flavours and why not? I have made several different flavours over the years including lemon and blue raspberry for a wedding shower. Any sweet flavour that can be made into a sauce, ganache or thin icing can be used. So your choices are only limited by your imagination and grocery store supplies. I have made two variations today: Caramel and Strawberry. You may not wish to do a full recipe but only a third or half so you can have a variety on a serving plate.
1½-2 cups purchased or homemade caramel or butterscotch sauce
Water for thinning sauce
3-4 cups fine or medium shred unsweetened dessicated coconut, toasted if you wish
Toast the coconut in a 300 degree oven for 10 minutes watching carefully. Place coconut in a shallow pan and place in a preheated oven. Stir every 2 minutes until you have a nice golden colour. This may take a longer or shorter time depending on your own particular oven.
Thin the caramel/butterscotch sauce with a little water. You don't want it too thin but it's usually a little too thick as is from the jar. Dip and roll the prepared cake in toasted coconut as per the directions for the chocolate Lamingtons.
Strawberry/Raspberry Jam Lamingtons
1½-2 cups seedless strawberry or raspberry jam or jelly
3-4 cups fine or medium shred unsweetened dessicated coconut
Heat the jam over low heat until it melts. Add a little water to thin it but don't make it sloppy. You want it thick enough so it will not run off the cake. I also added a couple of drops of red food colouring as the strawberry jam was not very bright. Dip and roll the prepared cake in coconut as per the directions for the chocolate Lamingtons.
Any favourite jam or jelly can be used for Jam Lamingtons--Strawberry, Raspberry, Blueberry, Apricot, etc...
This is the the Hot Milk Sponge Cake cut up, "skinned" and ready to be dipped in the chocolate sauce.
You only need a shallow amount of sauce in the bottom of a bowl. Refill as necessary. This keeps the sauce from getting crumby and thick.
Roll the chocolate dipped cake piece in the coconut and repeat the process until all the cake pieces are coated.
Here's a tray of finished chocolate Lamingtons. I brought these to a church potluck and they disappeared in record time.
These have been coated with the chocolate syrup. That's my favourite coating.
A tray of chocolate, strawberry and caramel Lamingtons.
A nice party tray.
A sample of each kind.
The coating keeps the cake moist and delicious.
Which one will I eat first?