I wanted to make lamingtons as part of my Australian cooking adventure to coincide with my vacation this summer to the land down under. A lamington is a simple, square piece of cake covered in chocolate sauce then coated with coconut. Like many cultural dishes there is much debate about the history of the name as well as every detail of this seemingly simple dessert.
Australians are passionate about their lamingtons. National Lamington Day is July 21…a day to celebrate a cake! As the story goes a maid-servant to Lord Lamington, eighth Governor of Queensland, created the lamington for visitors with the few ingredients she had on hand. As they say…the rest is history.
Some say that lamingtons appear on every buffet table, at every picnic and at family celebrations all over the country. As is so typical of cultural specialties ones’ idea of what a dish should look like is often very similar to the way their mother made it…perhaps exactly the way she made it. So three cheers for all the moms’ who make homemade lamingtons…gluten free or otherwise.
The lamington should be square. Some say it should be sponge cake, others think a white or yellow cake. I don’t make a lot of cakes so I turned to America’s Test Kitchen cookbook How Can It Be Gluten Free Volume 2. I made the cake from their Lemon Layer Cake since there is no lemon in the actual cake. For my everyday style of cooking I think it turned out just fine. I made the cake in one pan for the height I needed and it domed on top as it baked. I simply cut the dome off so my cake was flat and ate it…to ensure the quality of the cake met my everyday standards.
My lamingtons are 2-inch squares. That size worked out well with my 8″ square baking pan and it seemed like a good size for dessert. Now that I’m in Australia I see lamingtons in grocery stores and cafes every day. They are often 3-inch squares and I also see them rolled up jelly-roll style. When you’re in the kitchen you can create any way you like.
Lamingtons can be filled with whipped cream before dipping them in chocolate. If you want to make squares larger than 2-inches I would suggest you bake two cakes to get the desired height. You can then spread whipping cream on one cake and top it with the second cake or fill each square individually. Personally I like the 2-inch squares, but I might eat more than one.
The chocolate sauce for dipping is made with cocoa and icing sugar, some recipes use milk or water, some use butter. I’m confident you could make a gluten-free, dairy-free lamington if you were up for the challenge.
The final step is dipping the cake in desiccated coconut. Desiccated coconut is finely grated, dried, unsweetened coconut. The modern trend of adding sugar to every food possible is apparent when buying coconut. In regular grocery stores it seems to me that unsweetened coconut is very difficult to find. Sweetened coconut will work it’s just annoying when you don’t want the added sugar. Desiccated coconut can be found at Indian specialty shops but any type of dried coconut will work.
My sister who once lived in Sydney, Australia was excited to hear I was making gluten free lamingtons. When they were assembled and appropriately chilled she was the first to taste them and give them a two-thumbs up. I agreed.
If you try them please let me know about your lamington experience in the comments below.
|GF CAKE FLOUR|
|2¼ cups plus 2½ Tbsp white rice flour|
|½ cup plus ⅓ cup brown rice flour|
|⅔ cup potato starch|
|6 Tbsp tapioca starch|
|1½ Tbsp skim milk powder|
|1 cup whole milk|
|½ cup butter, melted|
|5 egg whites|
|2 tsp vanilla extract|
|2 cups GF cake flour (recipe above)|
|1¼ cups sugar|
|1 Tbsp baking powder|
|½ tsp baking soda|
|½ tsp salt|
|¾ tsp xanthan gum|
|2 cups icing sugar|
|⅓ cup cocoa|
|3 Tbsp butter|
|½ cup milk|
|1½ cups desiccated coconut|
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