Saturday, April 9, 2011

Lamingtons take the cake

I was 16 the first time I tasted a Lamington.

Kezia was a new girl at school. Her mother was Kiwi, her dad Malay. We became fast friends and one day, she brought me some lamingtons her mum had made the day before. I had no idea what they were. Prefect chocolate squares, coated with coconut? They looked like something out of a magazine.

I wish I'd taken a moment before I bit into my first little coconut covered chocolate square. Why? Well, I'm not kidding but that first bite changed my world. Forever. I swore that Kezia's mother's lamingtons were the best cake I'd ever tasted. (23 years later and its still up there among my favourite cakes).

Coconut. Chocolate. Delicious sponge. Bite after bite I got to enjoy the delicious medley between the three. Gorgeous. Soft. Rich. Sublime.

Funnily enough, those were the last lamingtons I ever tasted. I don't know why I never thought of making them before. Perhaps I wanted to keep that memory special. The anticipation. The surprise and the unexpected pleasure.

Last week, for no apparent reason, I thought about those lamingtons and I remembered Kezia, who I haven't see for 15years or so. I had no idea how to get in touch with her - couldn't find her on facebook - so I did the next best thing: I began looking for a lamington recipe.

After looking at about 20-odd recipes, I found Martha Stewart's. That was it. My search was over. Thank goodness, cos I could feel a migraine coming on.

Martha tweaked the basic recipe a little. She divided her sponge cake into two layers and sandwiched them with strawberry jam before cutting them into squares, coating them with chocolate icing and then coating them with coconut.

Oooooh! Strawberry jam!

You can't see me but I am patting myself on the back for choosing Martha's recipe. For one, Divine Miss Martha's sponge was fantastic. Soft like a pillow (feather-stuffed of course) and just sweet enough.

The jam in the centre? Delightful.

Can't wait to try it? Here's the recipe.

Sponge cake
225gm unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing pans
22/3 cups cake flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk, room temp
strawberry jam
shredded/dessicated coconut

Chocolate icing
8 oz bittersweet choc
1/2 cup milk
60 gms butter

Preheat your oven to 170C. Grease two 9 by 13inch pans, line with baking paper, grease again. Dust with some flour and set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar with your electric mixer until soft and fluffy: about 3 mins. Add the vanilla and eggs (one at a time, wait till each egg is incorporated before adding the next).

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt.

Add the flour into the batter in three batches, alternating with the milk. (flour, milk, flour, milk flour).

Divide the batter into the two prepared pans and bake for about 30 mins or until a tester comes out clean. Leave out to cool, turn out on to cake racks to cool completely.

Spread the jam on one of the cakes and sandwich the jam with the other half.

Chill the cake in the fridge overnight or for about six hours before frosting.

[ASIDE] Did you notice this plate? And the plates above? I got the at a flea market for just RM3 and RM6 respectively. The ones in the top photos were actually bone china! Crazy finds, I tell ya. [END ASIDE]

To make the icing, melt the chocolate + milk above a pot of boiling water. When its melted and blended, add the butter and stir gently to mix.

Spread the coconut in a shallow bowl or plate.

Take the cake out of the fridge (make sure its been in at least 6 hours so its firm and wont break when you coat it) and cut it into 2-inch squares.

Dip the squares in chocolate and then roll them in the coconut.

Chill, serve.

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