entertaining by 47

in the kitchen with felicita sala’s lamingtons


April 25th is ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day in Australia and New Zealand.  It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War, and is a day of national remembrance of the military campaign and those who have fallen in war.  I was introduced to the lamington after an ANZAC Day ceremony several years ago, and wanted to have them on the column in observation of ANZAC Day this year (though our column falls on a Friday so I’m a day late!!!).   Who best to share a lamington recipe with us than Italo-Australian illustrator Felicita Sala.   I’ve seen lamingtons in all different shapes and sizes, some as large as a Rubik’s cube!   There is some debate as to whether lamingtons use butter cake as a base or sponge.  I prefer butter cake, though sponge is the traditional base.  I will leave it to our Australian readers to provide us with tips on the dip and coat process, and whether they prefer sponge or butter cake!  -Kristina

About Felicita: Felicita Sala was born in Rome but grew up in Perth, Australia, where she graduated in European languages and philosophy. After a time spent between France and Spain she settled back down in Rome in 2007.  She decided to discover the world of art and illustration outside of formal institutions, taking inspiration from from contemporary art and illustration, philosophy, music, she likes to draw, cook and eat food.  She is currently working on a children’s picture book.   Her work has been seen in Design Work Life, Uppercase magazine, Oh Comely magazine , Blanket Magazine, delirio magazine, Relative magazine, designerblog, australian edge, design-milk, pikaland, 40fakes, rooms magazine.  Prints of her work are available here.

For the Cake

  • 1 cup of superfine sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup of milk

For the Icing

  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups desiccated coconut

Instructions

  1. Beat together butter, sugar, and eggs.  Mix well.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and add to the butter and eggs mixture.
  3. Mix vanilla with the milk, and pour into the flour mixture a little bit at a time.
  4. Mix until the batter is smooth.
  5. Pour into the cake tin and bake for 30 minutes at 350F/180C degrees.
  6. Place cake on a wire rack to cook completely before icing.
  7. Cut the cake into cubes.
  8. To make the icing, mix all ingredients in a pot and gently heat, stirring until the mixture is creamy.
  9. Place the slightly warm icing in a bowl with some depth, and put the coconut in a separate bowl.
  10. Roll each cube in chocolate, and then into the coconut and set on a wire rack.  The coating will firm up as it sits, so that it is no longer soft to the touch.

 

 

Why Felicita loves this recipe

I love lamingtons because they are the softest cake in the world, but mainly because they remind me of Australia. Biting into a lamington takes me back to cake raffles at school, old grandmas pouring cups of tea and the sound of magpies.

Photo by Mike Baker

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47 Comments

susan

These look delicious—and the illustrations are also wonderful! I’m definitely going to give them a go.

Chrsitine

We make these in Cleveland, OH! They are the best; especially if you are a chocolate and coconut fan!

Sally

These remind me of my mum who made both chocolate and strawberry flavored lamingtons. Heaven when served with a dollop of freshly whipped cream.

Jacqui

I’m currently in NZ and have also lived in Australia and I’d have to say that as far as I know there isn’t really a debate over sponge vs. butter cake, the classic lamington is made with the lightest sponge you can produce. Which isn’t to say butter cake would be bad, it’s just not what all the county women’s associations pride themselves on :) I’ve only made them a couple times, so my only tip would be not to try the split-and-cream-filled version for your effort like I did, they’re very tricky to ice!

Rach

Lest we forget.
I prefer lamingtons w. a sponge cake. You’ll also see them quite often with a layer of jam (jelly for US readers) in the middle.

Clare

Sponge cake only. I’ve never heard of using buttercake to make them! (though I do like buttercake better…) Also all these American versions floating round on pinterest that split them open and insert jam and cream (or even wilder things)? Not a lamington anymore, imo.

Strawberry flavoured ones are done by dissolving a packet of strawberry jelly, in water I guess… not sure what else it involves. My mum hasn’t made them since i was a little kid, but I remember sitting in on a lamington making morning in the church hall in the days before the annual church fete.

In primary school lamington drives were the principal fundraiser. Chocolate or strawberry, you pre-ordered and on a certain day a commercial baker would deliver all these cardboard boxes the exact right size to fit a dozen lamingtons to the school. The school got a cut of the purchase price.

Emma

Definitely sponge and in nz pink lamingtons are especially popular (coating made using raspberry jelly/jello crystals).

Ilana

I’m not sure that the Gallipoli assault was the first major action we were involved in, but was certainly the first one with a major loss of life. The national tragedy was a nation forming event for both countries (who’d only been nations for 13 and 8 years respectively), mostly because we believe it was caused by British error.

Oh, and sponge. Always sponge. Anything else is not a real lammo.

ri gal

Never knew that you could make lamingtons from such basic ingredients. Guess I finally found a hassle-free recipe. Definitely going to try this.

Mrs Expat

Thanks for this post. Yummy. I’m going to make these for my little Austral-American family tomorrow. I don’t think they have ever had them before. Makes me miss home.

Debra Matlock

Love the cute illustrations. Next year, PLEASE do an ANZAC biscuit recipe. Those things are amazing.

Kristina

Now see, when I was learning with a group of Australians they told me abt the sponge v butter cake! And in the end if it is sponge it has to be day old to stand up to the icing etc otherwise too fragile. So I prefer butter cake for several reasons but most of all because I can’t make sponge because I always collapse the whites and it ends up too flat. I’ve found the chocolate dip shouldn’t be too thick either so that the excess drains off immediately and doesn’t tear the cake when you try to lift it out. I have a two fork in the chocolate one spoon in coconut routine…. I froze these cake squares first before dipping and coating. Lol

Kristina

P.S. I learned that ‘sponge cake’ does not use leavening, only eggs for the structure, and that butter cakes use leavening, like the one in this recipe?

Sophie

Has to be sponge for sure!! Ive found that If you leave the sponge a day before you dip them they hold their shape better!! Well worth the effort. Sooooooo yummy and so Australian.

Elizabeth

You make the jelly with only a little boiling water and dip each side of the lamington while it’s still liquid then dip each side in dessicated coconut.

AJ

I’m a true blue Aussie and they are definitely made with sponge here. When I lived in UK I made them for people and they were such a hit! It would have been great for you to also have the Anzac Biscuit recipe on here as they are the traditional sweet for Anzac Day. Awesome you have an article on here about Anzac Day, thank you so much :)

Debbie

Yep, sponge – who is debating butter cake ??

Best dipping strategy – Get yourself one of these tupperware beetroot containers

(http://www.ebay.com.au/sch/sis.html?_nkw=TUPPERWARE+Pick+A+Deli+1L+Beetroot+Container+NEW+&_itemId=300374479958)

Put your icing in the container, then dip your cake into it using the middle piece – you get the icing the whole way around and keep your fingers relatively clean.

Also, while I loooovvveee Lamingtons it’s weird to see them on an Anzac post, you missed a great opportunity to make Anzac biscuits, which is (obviously) the usual treat on Anzac day. Lamingtons tend to come out more on Australia Day.

They are also sold by the droves on election day because as someone else said, they are the cake of choice when schools are raising money and our elections are always held in school buildings. It’s not an election without getting a pack of lamingtons on your way out of the polling station.

Kate

I love the illustrations! I make lamingtons at home with butter cake but bakeries and biddies go for sponge. Both are equally delicious. Bakeries also sell the with jam and/or cream inside, not sure what the poster above thinks is Americanised and Pinteresty about that, the filled variety have existed for a long time. Icing them is pretty messy work and I’m yet to find a technique that stops my hands from being covered in chocolate and coconut throughout. I don’t mind though, a little for the cook, wash and repeat.

Camilla

As an Australian, I’ll say it isn’t a lamington if it’s not made with sponge cake!

Paquita

Sponge cake only! If it’s anything else, it’s not a Lamington!

Vic

Next year you should post a recipe for ANZAC biscuits! Lamingtons are brilliant, of course, but ANZAC’s are just the bees knees. (NB biscuits NOT cookies- same same, just Aussie )

Amy

Lamingtons are definitely a staple of any good Australian diet, haha! I have to say that I’ve never encountered a lamington made with buttercake, the traditional lamington (the ones that come from a packet, that is) always have sponge cake.

Lorraine

Sponge, never anything else. Never split with a jam filling (becomes something else not lamination) Rubics cube would a good estimate of the desired size. I remember standing at the kitchen table helping my mum dip and coat. It was like a production line in our kitchen, in the fifties and early sixties. Delicious. I still make them from time to time.

Lorraine

When I lived in Chicago I mentioned lamingtons and someone replied with, “oh that would be lovely, I like lemons!”

Deb

Sponge is definitely traditional! I’m not a fan of lamingtons (coconut is not my thing) but icing them becomes easier if you use a couple of toothpicks or similar to manouver the cake around in the icing and coconut. Once it gets all over your hands it’s pretty much a nightmare.

Sandy Dee

I was so touched to see this on your web site. Lamingtons are so much a part of Australian family life – humble but delicious conmfort food. Lamingtons are always made with sponge cake, but I’m sure a butter cake version would do just as well.

becky

i’m a kiwi, only ever had them made with sponge cake and then dipped in either chocolate icing or strawberry jelly, rolled in coconut, then cut in half and filled with whipped cream thats a proper lamington

Louise

Another sponge vote here. Traditionally you make the sponge the day before so it is firm enough to hold up to the dunking process. Try using 2 forks to dip and toss the cake into the choc mix to keep fingers out of the mess.

Natalie

Lest we forget.

Definitely only sponge – never butter cake! Butter cake must be an American thing. Nice to see ANZAC Day recognised on the blog too.

Nicole

What a special post – thanks guys ! Kristina, after listening to your interview with Grace last week I was delighted to hear of your connection with so many Aussies ! then I saw this – more of us ! I love Felicita’s work – inspiring & amazing – I can not wait to see her children’s book. I was seriously about to sit down and write about one of my fave children’s illustrators – got sidetracked catching up on D*S with this – Aussie/NZ content and a children’s illustrator. very cool – re lamingtons, personally it has to be sponge for me ! we made hundreds – literally ! for major fundraising every year as a kid – won’t dare suggest it now as a school parent – too tempting to eat them (all) ! thanks all for this post . delightful.

Eleanor Jones

SPONGE! I have never even heard of anyone using butter cake. It might taste great but there is no question that a true lamington is a sponge cake.

Kristina Gill

Wow! So many Aussies out there… I feel like shouting “Aussie Aussie Aussie”…! ;-)

Rereading the comments, it appears that my first comment disappeared in the interwebs, and only the P.S. remained. To summarize, I wrote that I prefer buttercake for two reasons– one, it is sturdier for the purposes of this recipe, and two, I always collapse the egg whites when making sponge. I’d agree with @Louise that if you use sponge, it should probably be day old! Of course we can discuss what a sponge cake really is, but in the true sense, I think if there is leavening, it’s not a sponge!

@Ilana – Please accept my apologies if I have offended anyone, as it was not at all intentional! I have added the link to the Australian War Memorial website from where I checked the background before making the summary to this post to ensure that I had an acceptable source for the history.

As for the remaining sponge vs butter cake comments, I see that my friend, a very very well known South Australian foodie who shall remain nameless, remains in a miniscule minority on the butter cake issue, though when I made my first lamingtons for a group of Australians (using buttercake), I was offered honorary citizenship because they were deemed perfect! :-) I will accept that it is made with sponge… Now I just need to improve my sponge skills.

Alex from Office Kitten

Wow, to put it mildly. Lovely drawings, too, but the end product (the food) is pretty inspiring; I know what I’ll be cooking next weekend. And here was me trying to be a bit healthier! Oh well, on this occasion I don’t mind. Thanks for the lovely article!

Miss Heliotrope

ANAZC Day is actually a commemoration of World War One for Australia & NZ, & it has come to be our specific national day(s) for honouring those who fight for our country, & have done so over the years: both World Wars, Vietnam, Iraq & Afghanistan, & many others, rather than one specific battle. There are Dawn Services at War Memorials around the country, parades of returned service people and so on. (There is 11/11 for the end of WWI, but that is not just NZ & Australia)

& if that’s what the War Memorial says about Gallipoli, it’s a bit confused – the battle at Gallipoli was such an utter disaster from before it began, and so many men died, and the people running the side of the war we were on (Britain) kept Gallipoli going regardless of it being an even bigger stuff up than many of the battles in France. It’s rather regarded as one of the first times (or the official one), that Australians realised that team GB didnt always have our national interests on board, and started moving towards being a more independent country in actions as well as on paper.

Most lamingtons have a layer of jam (“red” flavour – usually raspberry) in the sponge.

ANZAC biscuits would be more ANZAC-day-y: they were sent to soldiers at the different fronts during WWI.

(If you are inspired by Australian food with pretty pictures, look up the children’s book Possum Magic)

Andrea

What a lovely, lovely post. It is so nice to see such an important day in Australia and New Zealand being marked on one of my favourite international blogs. But I must agree with the previous commenters – here in New Zealand I don’t think I’ve ever had a lamington that wasn’t sponge-based!

bojana

although i’m not australian, my mother made these very often when i was a kid. they were popular here, in macedonia, but we called them fuzzy sqares. and she had an easier method for icing them: cut them while still in the pan, then pour the icing (which is quite liquidy), making sure it gets everywhere inside the cut lines, then leave to soak and then coat in coconut. the icing gets absorbed evenly on all sides of the cubes:
http://www.sitnoseckano.com/coconut-squares/

Magdalen

Never heard of lamingtons made with butter cake, that’s not to say it can’t be done but if you want to throw a snagger on a barbie, have some polony in your sanger or sip a schooner of beer you gotta have sponge in your lammie! Now that my folks is fair dinkum!

PRUDENCE

Never seen or tasted lamingtons made on butter cake, its sponge all the way or it just wouldnt be the same!

Marta Brysha

Buttercake lamington! Heresy! It must be sponge cake and if it doesn’t have a layer of raspberry jam in the middle (pre rolling in chocolate) it just isn’t right.

Yes, lamingtons are an Aussie tradition, but for Anzac day it must be Anzac biscuits – maybe you’ll feature that next year.

Love your blog and have been a long time fan. Thanks

Debra

Funny that people say jam isn’t supposed to be in lamingtons. I ‘m American, but lived in Tasmania when I was a girl (late 1960’s), and I remember lamingtons always having a little layer of jam. Perhaps they’ve changed?

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