Happy Australia Day Everyone! Or as we would say in our Aussies accents - Happy Straya Day. We like to abbreviate our words. Like our American friends who celebrate the 4th of July, we have Australia Day. A day of patriotism. A day of celebrations. A day of eating and drinking.
It’s a long weekend there and I can imagine how stifling hot and humid it would be. All around the country the day would be filled with BBQ’s, fireworks, festivals and outdoor concerts. As I sit in my warm flat wishing it was a long weekend here, the thought of what my friends and family are doing at home makes me envious. Unfortunately, there isn’t a similar celebration in the UK. There isn’t a British Day so to speak. Perhaps the Brits aren’t as outwardly patriotic as us Australians and Americans.
To celebrate my roots from the other side of the world, I made a quintessential Aussie dessert - lamingtons. It’s been a while since I last had these and I have only seen them sold in Borough Markets and in a café in Primrose Hill. It’s been much longer since I made these and admittedly, it took me a few batches of baking the sponge cake to get it right. I was having an off day in the kitchen and my first two attempts resulted in a flat sponge cake and one that was too heavy. The sponge should be light and fluffy enough that when dipped in the chocolate sauce, it permeates the outer layer of the sponge. To finish the cake, the squares are rolled in desiccated coconut. You can have it plain but my preference is to fill them with strawberry jam or whipped cream. It’s a messy process but worth the effort.
It may be cold and grey outside but eating a plateful of lamingtons cheered me up.
To everyone back home, I hope you enjoyed your long weekend.
225g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
115g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4 and grease and line a 20cm square tin.
Add the flour, baking powder and butter into a bowl and using your fingers break up the butter and rub it into the flour until fine crumbs are formed.
Add the sugar, eggs and milk to the bowl and beat until smooth using your hand or an electric mixer.
Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for 30 mins or until an inserted skewer in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Allow the cake to cool slightly in the tin before removing and cooling completely on a wire rake.
Trim the top of the cake to create a flat level. Slice the sponge in half lengthways using a serrated knife.
Like a sandwich, remove the top layer and spread an even layer of strawberry jam on one half of the sponge cake. Place the top layer back on and sandwich together.
Cut out the squares. You can get 9 large squares or 16 small squares.
700g fresh strawberries
1 cup sugar
Add the strawberries and sugar to a saucepan on medium heat.
Bring to the bowl for 5 minutes and lower the heat to a simmer.
Every so often, scoop the foam from the surface and discard.
Simmer for 30 mins. The mixture will have reduced and thickened.
Pour into a sterilised jar. You will use about half of this mixture for the lamingtons. The rest will store for months in the fridge.
15g unsalted butter
15g cocoa powder
250g icing sugar
250g dessicated coconut
Add the butter and milk to a saucepan and heat on low heat until the butter has melted.
Sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder into a bowl and pour over the butter and milk mixture.
Using a whisk, beat the mixture until smooth and lump free. The mixture should be runny. It shouldn't be a thick chocolate mixture.
Place the dessicated coconut in a bowl.
Dip each sponge square in the chocolate mixture using 2 forks, ensuring each side is covered.
Roll the square into the dessicated coconut until it is completely covered.
Place on a wire rack until the chocolate hardens. I like to place it in the fridge until ready to eat.
You can add more sugar to the strawberry jam if you prefer a sweeter jam.
You can use a rectangle tin if you don't have a square tin for the sponge cake.