There is no cake more Australian than Lamingtons! A moist butter sponge dipped in chocolate then coated with coconut, this is The Cake sold at every suburban bakery and weekend fundraisers.
You’ll make a mess making them and eating them. But that’s all part of the Aussie experience. It’s how we do it Down Under!
Lamingtons: An Australian classic!
A soft buttery sponge cake coated all over with chocolate icing and coconut.
Even if you’ve never heard of these before, you just know it’s going to be good. We Aussies know great tucker – and this is as Aussie as it gets!! (OK, well, along with Pavs, Sausage Rolls, Party Pies, weekend sausage sizzles and Sunday Roast Lamb).
How to make Lamingtons
Lamingtons are one of those cakes that are deceptively difficult unless you’ve been let in on one big secret tip that make all the difference.
The first few times I made Lamingtons involved screeches of frustration and foot stomping. I emerged on the other side looking like I’d been in a mud-wrestle with a plate of something that barely resembled the neat squares you see in this post.
It was many years before I learned the single little trick that made all the difference:
Secret Tip: Freeze the cake
The challenge is this: The sponge has to be tender and moist enough to eat plain, but trying to roll such a delicate cake in icing is a disaster. The cake crumbles into the icing, making it thicker and impossible to work with.
And once the crumbling begins, imagine the mess when you try to roll it in coconut.
The solution offered by traditional recipes is to leave the cake out overnight, essentially letting the outside become a bit stale so it’s easier to handle. This works pretty well – but the cake is a bit drier than ideal.
The 21st century solution:
FREEZE YOUR CAKE.
It’s even easier to handle for coating, and the bonus is that the cake stays fresh and moist – no need to leave it out to dry out!
This will change your Lamington Life forever.
Butter Sponge Cake for Lamingtons
If you freeze the cake before rolling, making Lamingtons is actually quite straightforward. A buttery vanilla sponge cake, cut into pieces, roll in icing, coat in coconut.
The sponge cake is a terrific recipe that I use as a base for other recipes (strangely, none that I’ve shared here – yet). Simply made with pantry staples, the unique thing about this vanilla sponge is how it’s made: creaming the butter, sugar and eggs, then folding through the flour with a light touch so the sponge comes out tender.
If you’re a Lamington fan, I think you’ll approve of this recipe! The butter cake is moist, tender and buttery. The chocolate coating is thick enough so you get a great hit of chocolate, but thin enough so it soaks into the sponge, a sticky enough to glue on plenty of coconut.
The added bonus is that using the little trick to freeze the cakes before coating, they are neat and tidy so they look as great as they taste! – Nagi x
PS You’ll make a mess. And that’s totally ok. Because it’s part of the great Aussie tradition that you get coconut “everywhere” when you’re making them and eating them!
Browse ideas for Australia Day feasting!
Watch how to make it
Recipe video above. There is no cake more Australian than the Lamington! The sponge in this recipe is buttery and moist, generously coated in chocolate and coconut. Sandwiching with jam and cream is optional – it takes it over the top, but it’s great without. KEY TIP: Freeze the sponge before coating – read Note 2.
- 125 g / 4.5 oz unsalted butter (, softened)
- 1 cup (220g) caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 eggs (, room temperature)
- 1 3/4 cups (260g) flour (, plain/all purpose, sifted (Note 1))
- 3.5 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) milk ((low or full fat))
- 4 cups (480g) icing sugar ((confectionary sugar), sifted)
- 1/3 cup (22g) cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp (15g) unsalted butter
- 150ml (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) boiling water
- 3 – 4 cups desiccated coconut
Optional: Jam and Cream
- Strawberry jam
- 1 cup (250 ml) cream
- 1 tbsp white sugar
- Preheat oven to 180C/350F (or fan forced 160C/320F).
Sift flour and baking powder together.
- Grease a 20 cm x 30 cm / 8″ x 12″ cake pan. Line with baking paper (parchment paper), leaving an overhang on all sides (to make it easy to remove).
Beat butter, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium high speed until light and fluffy – about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.
- Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition so the batter is smooth, not curdled.
Add half the flour and gently fold to combine, then stir in half the milk. Repeat with remaining flour and milk.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Stand for 5 minutes then use the overhang baking paper to lift the cake out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
Prepare Cake to Coat
Cut cake into 15 squares (5 x 3), or 18 rectangles. Freeze for 1 to 1.5 hours. (Note 2)
Combine the Icing ingredients in a heat proof bowl and mix until smooth. Should be a syrup consistency, but not watery. (Note 2)
Place coconut in a shallow bowl or pan with a largish surface area (Note 3).
Place a piece of cake in the icing and roll to coat using 2 forks. Transfer it into the coconut and quickly roll to coat all over in coconut. Transfer to tray.
Repeat with remaining sponges.
- Stand for 1 to 2 hours, or until set. Then serve with tea and coffee!
Optional: Jam and Cream
Beat cream and sugar until firm peaks form.
Cut coated Lamington in half horizontally. Spread with jam then pipe or dollop on cream. Top with lid, keep refrigerated.
1. Flour – Use either 1 3/4 cups (260g) self raising flour, or 1 3/4 cups (260g) plain flour + baking powder. The extra 3 tsp of baking powder doesn’t affect the recipe, I make it both ways.
2. Freezing / coating: Trying to coat a freshly cooked cake doesn’t work, it just crumbles into the chocolate and makes a mess. The easiest way to coat the Lamingtons is as follows: cut into pieces and freeze for 1 hour just prior to coating. The frozen cake is much easier to handle for the dipping / coconut coating steps. Bonus: The cake stays more moist than traditional recipes that call for the cake to be left out overnight to dry out so it’s easier to handle to coat in chocolate and coconut.
3. Chocolate icing needs to be thick enough so the coconut will stick, but thin enough so the cake can be easily rolled in it.
It thickens as it cools, making it harder to work with. If this happens, just microwave for 20 seconds to loosen it up (or set it over a saucepan with boiling water).
3. Coconut bowl – use a shallow one with a larger surface area, easier to roll cake around.
No cream: Store in airtight container for 3 to 4 days, or freeze for 2 – 3 months then thaw before serving.
Cream: Store in refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.
5. Nutrition per serving.
Barely adapted from this recipe from taste.com.au. Ingredients the same, the main thing I changed is the process (especially the coating process, to make it easier!)
Life of Dozer
You think it’s hard making recipe videos? Trying make them with THIS in your line of sight….