Lauren’s Layered Lamington Cake

Lauren's Layered Lamington Cake

Lauren’s Layered Lamington Cake

You may realise by now that I LOVE Lamingtons. They are definitely one of my Australian highlights, alongside the cake shops in St Kilda and the koalas hanging out in eucalyptus trees. It’s been a while since I baked any of these sweet treats and I must apologise it’s been quite some time since I wrote. It’s been a bit hectic what with getting married having a last minute trip to Berlin and oh yes fitting in the proper job too… I promise I will get back to some international baking VERY soon (and also share with you the photos of my wedding cake too!). In the meantime I wanted to share with you an experimental Layered Lamington Cake that I made up the other day.

I had promised Chris a tiered Lamington Cake for the wedding. Something that I had imagined in my mind but frankly in amongst baking and icing 5 layers of fruit cake, making 150 sugar flowers, our house flooding 2 weeks before the wedding and baking brownies and Lavender meringues I never had the opportunity to bring to life. Until now. So here it is! A slightly smaller scale Layered Lamington Wedding Cake for Chris. Next time I will bake 2 more smaller cakes and stack them one on top of the other… for a tower of layered Lamington!

Lauren's Layered Lamington Cake

Lauren’s Layered Lamington Cake – 3 layers of coconut madeira, double chocolate coated and jam sandwiched

I wanted to make a more grown up version of the Lamington. More luxurious, decadent and slightly prettier than the Lamington bricks that I’ve made previously. To produce this I incorporated the coconut into the sponge, which meant I could keep the top of the cake coconut free to showcase the shiny chocolate ganache, whilst preserving the coconut and chocolate Lamington tradition. I double coated the cake in chocolate soup sauce first before a double chocolate ganache layer to increase the luxuriousness of the Lamington. And then to add an extra level of height and flavour why not add a third layer of sponge, one more than your traditional Lamington sandwich. It’s an extremely indulgent cake. One to be enjoyed on a special occasion perhaps. It takes a bit of organising and assembling, but I can assure you it’s worth the effort! Chris definitely enjoyed it and so did my friends. If you fancy having a go I’ve included the instructions below.

As the cake is entirely encased in chocolate and contains a double layer of jam it’s  a light and moist sponge. I’m hungry just reminiscing about it now! Hope you enjoy it as much as me.

Lauren’s Layered Lamington Recipe

Coconut Madeira Sponge Cake

  • Caster Sugar 250g
  • Butter 300g
  • Self Raising Flour 400g
  • Desiccated Coconut 50g
  • Pinch of salt
  • Milk 6 tablespoons
  • 2 x 8 inch round cake tins
  • Bake at 170 degrees Celsius (fan)  for 25-30 minutes
  1. Cream together sugar and butter
  2. Sift in flour and baking powder and gently fold it into the creamed butter and sugar
  3. Fold in desiccated coconut
  4. Fold in milk
  5. Gently pour mixture into 2  greased and lined 8 inch round cake tins
  6. Carefully level the mixture
  7. Bake in the middle of the oven until the cakes shrinks back from the sides of the tin, is golden brown and a skewer comes out clean from the sponge
  8. Let the cakes cool in the tin for 10 minutes to hold their shape
  9. Remove from tin and place on cooling rack
  10. When fully cooled carefully split one cake in 2 down the centre with a sharp knife
  11. Carefully level the other sponge removing the top (you can then sample the top bit of the sponge!)

Filling Strawberry Jam  (you could buy a jar or make it yourself)

  • 1kg strawberries
  • 1kg granulated sugar
  • ½ lemon, juice only
  • small knob of butter
  1. Heat equal amounts of fruit and sugar in a large pan
  2. Stir until all of the sugar has dissolved
  3. Stir in lemon juice and butter
  4. Stop stirring and boil rapidly (about 10minutes)
  5. Keep boiling the jam and checking the consistency of the jam every 10  minutes and take it off the heat once it coats the back of a spoon (this could take up to an half an hour but hopefully less!)
  6. Allow the jam to cool and set slightly in the pan

Icing

  • Butter 25g
  • Sifted icing sugar 450g
  • Sifted cocoa powder 50g
  • Milk 120ml
  • Vanilla Extract 2 tsp
  1. Sift all of the ingredients into a large bowl
  2. Put the bowl over a pan of boiling water
  3. Melt the butter over a low heat
  4. Stir together to make a thick chocolate soup
  5. Remove from heat
  6. (but if it gets too hot pop it back on the heat to warm through)

Chocolate Ganache

  • Plain chocolate 140g
  • Double cream 200ml
  • Milk chocolate 25g
  1.  Heat the double cream over a low heat in a pan
  2. Break up the chocolate into small pieces
  3. Allow the cream to become piping hot then take it off the heat
  4. Throw in the chocolate and stir until it’s really smooth and shiny

Layered Lamington Assembly

  1. Have a pre-prepared cake stand/plate to arrange it all onto
  2. Turn the bottom of the sponge face upwards (from the one sponge that you’ve split in 2) spoon a generous amount of chocolate icing soup onto the sponge and spread it evenly over the sponge base and sides. (Lamingtons are supposed to be encased in chocolate and this will help to fix it to your stand too…)
  3. Give it a few minutes to ‘set slightly’ then flip over the sponge so the chocolate is face down on your cake plate.
  4. Spoon half the jar of strawberry  jam onto the sponge and spread evenly.
  5. Place the other half of the sponge cake on top of the jam and press gently.
  6. Spoon the rest of the jam on top of the sponge and sandwich the final layer of sponge on top. (smoothest side up)
  7. Rest the cake in the fridge for 5-10 minutes to set the jam and hold sponge in place
  8. Pour the chocolate soup all over the cake and smooth with a palette knife. Removing excess icing to give a smooth ‘crumb coating’ and hold the cakes in place
  9. Return to the fridge to allow it to set for 5 minutes
  10. Pour the hot chocolate ganache all over the cake and sides. Ensure you have a smooth and shiny coat by tilting the cake to run the ganache down the sides, use a palette knife if necessary to sharpen the edges of the cake.
  11.  Use a hairdryer if needed to melt the ganache slightly to create a smooth finish
  12. Repeat ganache layer again to double coat the cake.
  13. Whilst the chocolate is still wet carefully sprinkle the sides of the cake with desiccated coconut, use a cupped hand to press the coconut into the ganache, leaving the top of the cake free so the ganache shines through
  14.  Allow the ganache to set at room temperature to maintain the high gloss finish and serve in huge chunks with a bucket of tea.
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19. Sunderland Gingerbread – How to Mackem

Sunderland Gingerbread

Years ago I bought a postcard from Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens (my favourite museum from when I was little with the Walrus head and stuffed lion that we visited on a weekly basis)  with a recipe on it for Sunderland Gingerbread. As far as I’m aware Sunderland isn’t renown for it’s Gingerbread but I guess as it was major port there would have been a plentiful supply of exotic spices to create lovely things with. It’s been pinned to my fridge for over 3 years reminding me that I need to try it out.

I am the Walrus

I was aiming to bake something special for my friend in Australia and post it out to her. As we’re both from Sunderland and therefore officially Mackems, this recipe seemed perfect. Not only because of the Sunderland connection but also because gingerbread needs to mature, which it could do as it was winging its way to her down under.

The Postcard

Customs are pretty tight in Australia so I also had to be very careful in recipe choice as there are restrictions on importing dried/fresh fruit and dairy to protect the eco system. Again Sunderland Gingerbread was a winner, as it was definitely less than 10% dairy and contains no dried fruit.

Necessary Ingredients - Baking Powder, Corinader, Ginger (of course) and AllSpice

This was my first foray into gluten and wheat free baking. I’ve never used this type of flour before so was intrigued by its white luminosity and fine texture. It reminded me of fresh snow that crunches when stepped on. Very Christmassy indeed!

Gluten Free Flour Blend

I loved making this recipe. It was so very simple, perhaps because a postcard only has space for the most basic instructions on it. It was easy to follow and very little washing up! My kind of bake! Everything was mixed together in one pan. Fantastic!

Measuring out the flour, baking powder, bicarb of soda and spices (all in one bowl saves washing up...)

Melting butter, golden syrup and sugar together

Sift in the flour and spices

Mixing it into a paste

Looking gingery

Add some milk... (I possibly should have added this sooner?)

Liquid Gingerbread

Oven Ready - Poured into a greased and lined tin

The texture was a little different to what I’m used to for this gingerbread, possibly because I haven’t tried gluten free flour before but after a couple of days of maturing it was rather nice, especially with a good dollop of ice cream on the side. (I’m sure custard would be pretty good with it too).

Baked!

All that was left was to cut into travel sized chunks and figure out how to package it up safely so it would survive up to 2 weeks in transit. Greaseproof paper and cotton string is my new favourite thing. I may have gone a little over board, but customs were very specific about their packaging requirements (I even emailed them to double check and everything 🙂 )

The Final Slice

You may have already spotted my disastrous turkish delight post, as I was searching for other suitable non perishable things to post. As my package was not yet complete I still needed to bake one more thing… will let you know how that turned out very soon.

The Final Slice

Perfect with rum and raisin ice cream!

Just in case you fancy giving Sunderland Gingerbread a go yourself, here’s the recipe…
Ingredients:
340g plain flour
140g butter
110g soft brown sugar
225g golden syrup
1 egg
140ml milk
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 tsp baking powder
How to Mackem (Directions):
      • Heat together butter, sugar and syrup in a pan until just melted
      • Sieve together dry ingredients then stir into syrup mix
      • Beat together egg and milk and beat quickly into syrup mix
      • Pour into 15x25cm greased and lined baking tin
      • Bake at gas mark 2, 150*C/300*F for about an hour (or until cooked in the centre)
      • Allow to cool in the tin
      • (Don’t worry if it sinks in the middle! – hurrah! – or cracks a little)
      • Keep for a few days in an airtight container before eating.
      • Enjoy with custard or ice cream or just with a cup of tea 🙂
*Recipe courtesy of Dane Stone Cards www.dane-stone.co.uk

16. Anzac Biscuits – Australia

Anzac Biscuits

Anzac Biscuits were very high on my list of things to try when we were in Melbourne, but somehow time got away from me and I missed out. I saw them when we visited the Shrine of Remembrance, in the centre of Melbourne and so I thought it was quite a poignant recipe to choose as last week it was Remembrance Sunday in England where we remember the soldiers who have fought for us.

Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, Australia

I read up a little about Anzac biscuits and they were referred to soldier biscuits because they kept well and could be sent out to the soldiers on the front line. They are particularly important to Australian’s and New Zealanders or the Australian New Zealand Army Corps and are baked to commemorate the day they joined forces. Apparently they’re also sold around England to raise funds for the British Legion but I haven’t seen any as of yet. Any one else spotted them?

I discovered the recipe in Mary Berry’s At Home book and even she said they’re really simple to make. Hence an early morning pre work baking extravaganza! Here’s a very similar recipe from the BBC.

Melting all the butter, sugar and golden syrup together

These biscuits were made in a pan. A very novel idea I think and effective. One pan means less washing up! I liked this recipe all the more!

The butter and sugar were melted together in the pan along with lashing of golden syrup.

Stir in all the dry ingredients, oats and coconut

Then in go the dry ingredients, oats and flour.

and finally the flour

Once its all combined I had to dissolve a teaspoon of baking powder in 2 tablespoons of water, throw it in the mix and then all that was left to do was roll it out! simple as that.

Bicarbonate of Soda paste

I was half way through rolling the butter mix into walnut sized balls and placing them onto the baking sheet when I realised that I couldn’t remember how big a walnut is (I only have walnut halves in the cupboard so was imagining 2 of those squashed together….). A quick check of the recipe told me that it was supposed to make 36 biscuit. I was almost finished rolling them all out and I only had 8!  I was definitely over estimating the size of walnuts.

is this the size of walnuts??

I split each ball in half and carried on making smaller versions. Mary emphasised the need to space the biscuits out as they spread. I tried my best but I only have 2 baking sheets that fit in the oven (I accidentally bought a giant one that I don’t think will fit anyone’s open. Please let me know if you have a spectacularly large  oven as you are more than welcome to the baking sheet!)

So once I flattened the walnut sized balls down it was a bit of a tight squeeze on the tray but with 8 minutes on the oven timer I had just enough time for a shower.

Slightly merged into one biscuit (but it's ok!)

The kitchen smelt amazing with the golden syrupy, coconut, and combination. The biscuits had spread a bit but it wasn’t anything a sharp knife couldn’t fix.

Easily solved! Hand me a knife

I had to do a taste test before packaging them up and they were divine. Chewy yet crunchy. I can see why Mary B got so obsessed with them! They made the perfect sweet treat to take to work. I think we are now officially partaking in elevenses at work it’s almost like being in a Jane Austen novel (almost but not quite).

Anzac Biscuits

You can also freeze the baked biscuits for a month and prolong the pleasure. If they last long enough to put them in the freezer that is…

13. Lovely Lamingtons – Australia – Lord Lamington’s Finest

As a surprise birthday treat, I decided to bake Chris his favourite Australian treat, Lamingtons. We ate Lamingtons the size of house bricks when visiting Australia. One particular Lamington stands out from our visit this year when we drove the Great Ocean Road and stayed in the seaside towns of Lorne and Apollo Bay to take in the sights (and the cakes and pies too).

Look at this little fella! Spotted on the Great Ocean Road

Somewhere over the rainbow…

I spotted a Lamington recipe in Marguerite Patton’s Everyday Cookbook and planned it all well in advance, purchasing an industrial sized bag of desiccated coconut, only for Chris to then ask for Lamingtons (and a Chocolate Roulade) for his birthday! My plan was discovered, but then again I’m not very good at keeping surprises secret and our tiny Tyneside flat doesn’t leave much to the imagination anyway…

Lamingtons. The classic Australian ones

I googled Lamingtons as they caused a bit of debate in the office. Many of us remember eating these chocolate, coconut, jam, sponge cubes as children, although others remember a pink version. They are also known by different names, such as Madelines, or pink Lamingtons. Some Australian Counsellor put me right. Apparently an Australian Lord loved cake. His maid  accidently dropped his cake into chocolate. Despite being a Lord he didn’t want to waste his cake (Don’t blame him!). So he told her to roll it in coconut so he wouldn’t get messy fingers. Et voila! Lamingtons were born and Australians are very proud of their 100 year recipe. (Check out the Australian Lamington official blog for evidence of the City Counsellor of Queensland shovelling Lamingtons into his mouth and the record breaking Lamington).

Celebrating 100 years of the Australian Lamington

Counsellor Paul Tullly enjoying Lamingtons – Courtesy of australianlamingtons.blogspot.com

I was a bit worried about how technical this recipe was and I didn’t actually own a square tin. I made a quick trip to visit my mam to borrow her tin. I’ve never baked one cake and sliced it in half before. It seems a bit dangerous. Is it difficult? What if I slip with the knife and ruin the entire cake?!

Sponge time

The sponge itself was pretty simple to make. A basic vanilla batter, which smelled gorgeous and tasted rather like a dense madeira cake.

Smells so good

I had to leave it to cool overnight and the next day chopped off the slightly domed top to create a flat surface instead. This was nerve wracking too as the last time I attempted this I cut my hand. I managed and kept all my fingers intact. This meant that I got a sneak preview and ate the lid before work. Hurrah! It was delicious!

Off with it’s dome

I set about creating the chocolate soup, from cocoa powder and icing sugar. I carefully sliced the cake through the middle widthways and had two perfect halves!!

Chocolate Soup?

The recipe was supposed to make 16 portions… I was a bit worried that this dinky square cake just wasn’t enough for the Australian cakes that we were accustomed too. So I baked another one. This time in a big roasting tin to make one flat cake, remembering this time to leave a bit of a dint in the top (pushing more mixture to the edges) so I didn’t get a dome finish.

The second sponge… (please ignore the cat food in the background)

Our guests were arriving for fish and chips and Lamingtons so I didn’t have much time for mistakes. I threw almost a full jar of strawberry jam onto the sponges and rubbed it in with the back of a spoon. (Excessive? Me?)

JAM

Then plonked one half on top of the other and decided that 4 big cakes were better than 16 little ones. I used the sharpest knife I could find and cut the sponge into quarters. Although they still didn’t look that ‘Australian sized’ to me.

That’s more like it

The recipe suggests you use a skewer to pierce the cake and dip gentily into the chocolate soup before lovingly rolling it in desiccated coconut. Who has time for these things? I picked the cakes up with my bare hands and within 2 seconds was up to my eyes in chocolate and coconut. Everything stuck to me! My messy yet effective method.

Step one. Dunk yourself in chocolate

Step two. Roll around in coconut (Do not try to a. answer the phone b. push your hair out of your face c.  say hello to the cat until hands can be throughly washed.)

The cakes needed about an hour to ‘set’. I definitely used more coconut than suggested as the chocolate from my fingers kept leaking onto the pristine white finish and ruining the effect slightly.

The Setting Process

When piled onto my new vintage cake plate, topped with candles, lit and then carried through the beaded curtain from the kitchen to the living room. (No fires were caused in the making of these cakes, don’t worry), They suddenly transformed into magnificent brick like beasts. I had made giant cakes. One cake was more than enough for two people and I still had an entire sponge cake left to assemble!

Happy Birthday Chris!

Happy Birthday Chris! I loved these cakes and was so impressed with how they turned out. The sponge doesn’t need to be the perfect shape, the coconut makes up for any inconsistencies and they are so very moreish.

My Half

I attempted some pink Lamingtons (or English Madelines as Nigel Slater informs me in his ‘Eating for England’ book) especially for Caroline at work as they were her favourite, using powdered jelly. Bizarre stuff but apparently they tasted excatly like the ones she had when she was little. Success!

Pink Jelly Soup

One flat sponge cake goes a long way…

Things that I used to make Lovely Lamingtons…

Sponge cake

  • 5 oz butter
  • 7 oz caster sugar
  • splash of vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 10 oz self raising flour
  • 4 tablespoons of milk

Filling

  • strawberry/raspberry jam

Coating

  • 7 oz icing sugar
  • 1 oz cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons of boiling water

Decoration

  • 6 oz desiccated coconut (or as much as you need to coat the lamingtons liberally!)

Method

  1. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla essence together
  2. add the eggs gradually
  3. fold in the sieved flour alternatively with the milk
  4. spread the mixture into a baking tin (8 inch square)
  5. bake for 50-60 mins at 350 degrees F/gas mark 4
  6. cool the sponge and store in an airtight container over night
  7. carefully slice the sponge through the centre to create 2 square sponges
  8. spread with jam
  9. sandwich the two sponges together
  10. mix the icing sugar and cocoa powder together in a shallow bowl adding the boiling water gradually to create your chocolate soup. Add more sugar/water as required.
  11. chop the sponge into equal sized squares (4 if you want big pieces or 16 smaller ones)
  12. dip each piece into the chocolate soup and then into a shallow bowl of desiccated coconut
  13. leave on a cooling rack to harden
  14. eat with a big cup of tea!

* Recipe lovingly adapated from Marguerite Patten’s Everyday Cookbook