RECIPE: Australian Lamington Cake

People & Culture

Australian lamington cake

This festive season, whether hosting a party, bringing potluck to an event, or just having a delicious treat on hand, try serving an Australian lamington cake. Pretty simple to make, this butter cake is coated with chocolate and rolled in coconut.

Lamington cake is said to have originally been named after Lord Lamington, who served as governor of Queensland from 1896 – 1901. While there are various stories of how the cake came to be, there are also other theories of how the cake originated. Putting that debate aside, today, lamington cakes are served for special events throughout the year in Australia, and also has a dedicated day of July 21st, which, since 2006 has been known as National Lamington Day.

Cairns Esplanade at Night, Queensland, Australia
Cairns’ esplanade at night, Queensland, Australia

Servings: 16

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup soft butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk

Frosting:

  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups unsweetened desiccated coconut

Directions:

Cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 350°F. Grease an 8 inch square baking dish.
  2. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Using an electric mixer and a separate mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs to the mixture, one at a time, beating each until it’s been well blended. Then add the  vanilla extract and blend well.
  4. Set the electric mixer at the lowest speed. Alternatively add the flour and the milk, starting and finishing with the flour. Beat the mixture only shortly until smooth, do not over beat.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish, smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the cake.
  6. Leave the cake to rest in the baking dish for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  7. Once completely cool, cut the cake into 2″ square pieces. Individually wrap each piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or ideally, overnight. This will help the cake become more stable and crumble less when you dip it in the chocolate icing.

Frosting:

  1. In a bowl, sift together the icing sugar and cocoa powder.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat.
  3. When the butter has melted, add the milk and stir. Start adding the icing sugar and cocoa powder mixture, 1 cup at a time, while continuously whisking, making sure everything is well incorporated and lump free.
  4. Remove from heat and pour half the mixture into a bowl, wide enough to be able to dip the cake squares. Leave the other half of the frosting in the saucepan. This can be used once the frosting in bowl contains too many crumbs from dipping the cake.

Assembly:

  1. To catch any drips from the frosting, place a large, lined baking sheet or paper under a wire rack.
  2. For the same reason to divide the frosting, add a third of the desiccated coconut on a plate, continuing to top it off until the plate becomes too “dirty” with the frosting.
  3. One by one, unwrap each lamington cake and using the help of two forks, gently dip them into the chocolate mixture, letting it drain any excess frosting. Then coat them in the coconut, again using two forks to help. Transfer to the wire rack. As you continue with all the squares, you will need to start using the remaining frosting from the saucepan, which can be transferred to a clean bowl, and use a fresh plate for the desiccated coconut if needed.
  4. Once all squares have been coated, you can refrigerate the lamingtons for a short period until they set.
  5. Let them come to room temperature before serving.

Optional:
To make your lamingtons more festive, garnish with some raspberries and mint leaves. You can also colour the desiccated coconut: Place the coconut in a plastic resealable bag, and then add a couple of drops of liquid food colouring. Seal the bag tightly and lightly knead and distribute the colour through the coconut. Add more drops as needed to obtain desired darkness. If preparing in advance, place the sealed bag in the refrigerator until needed, using within a few days.