As a kid, I always wished I could have the enticing packaged snack cakes from the store in my lunch box. We didn’t have many store-bought treats as my mom was a perfectly wonderful baker and made us much healthier treats, so packaged desserts were not an option. When I did have an opportunity to try a snack cake from the store, I was sorely disappointed as the pretty little cakes did not deliver on flavor or texture.
When I came across a recipe for Lamingtons (Australian snack cakes) in Warm Bread and Honey Cake by Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra, I was enchanted by the picture. I had never heard of Lamington cakes, which are apparently an Austrailian favorite. Since I am still suffering from childhood snack-cake deprivation, I rolled up my sleeves and made a batch. Unlike their packaged counterparts, these lovely little cakes do deliver on flavor and are fun to eat. A moist plain sponge cake is sandwiched with raspberry jam, then cut into cubes which are dipped in a dark chocolate glaze and rolled in coconut. Pack up one of these and you will make any other kid or adult in the vicinity very jealous of your lunch! Much like cupcakes, the flavor variations are endless. In addition to the chocolate covered ones, I also made a variation in which the cake cubes are not sandwiched with jam, but dipped in fresh raspberry syrup and then tossed into the coconut. The pink ones are especially beautiful, but the chocolate ones win my heart every time.
This recipe served me well in a couple ways this month. First off, my book club (which I am hosting this month) is reading The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman, which is set in Australia. I needed a dessert to serve and Lamingtons seemed just the thing. Secondly, the We Should Cocoa challenge this month is hosted by Laura at I’d Much Rather Bake than… and the theme is coconut. Perfect!
- Sponge Cake:
- scant 1 Cup (8.5oz/140g) all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup (1oz/31g) cornstarch
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 4 eggs, at room temperature
- ¾ cup (5.25oz/ 150g) superfine sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1¾ oz. (49.5g) butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 2-3 Tbsp seedless raspberry jam
- Chocolate Glaze:
- 14 oz (397g) dark chocolate, chopped
- scant 1 cup milk (8.5oz/242g)
- Raspberry Glaze:
- 10 oz (283g) frozen raspberries
- 1 cup (7oz/198g) sugar
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 cup (2.4oz/80g) fine shredded (dry, unsweetened) coconut
- Preheat oven to 350°F/185C. Grease a 8-inch square pan and dust with flour.
- Sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt and set it aside.
- Using an electric mixer, whisk the eggs, superfine sugar and vanilla until very thick and pale and the dough falls off the whisk in a ribbon.
- Gently fold in half of the flour mixture. Add the melted butter and the second batch of flour just until there are no streaks of flour or butter in the batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and level the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
- Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack until room temperature. Remove carefully from the pan.
- Carefully cut the cooled cake in half horizontally and separate the halves. Sandwich the two layers with the raspberry jam. Place the layered cake in the refrigerator for an hour or two to firm up and set the jam and make it easier to cut the cake.
- Each glaze recipe makes enough to coat 16 cubes, so pick which glaze you are making or make half a recipe of each! The raspberry glaze takes a while to make as the raspberries need to thaw, so start it when you put your cake in the oven if that's the glaze you're using.
- For the raspberry glaze, combine the raspberries, sugar and lemon juice and place in a strainer over a bowl. Stir the berries occasionally and let them sit until the berries are thawed. Gently press as much juice and pulp through the strainer as you can without pressing any seeds into the liquid. If the liquid seems too thin, you can cook it over low heat to thicken it. Cut the cooled cake into 16 squares. Very quickly dip 5 sides of each cake cube (not the bottom) into the raspberry juice and immediately toss the cube in the coconut. Set it on wax paper to set up. Chill before serving.
- For the chocolate glaze, heat the chocolate and milk together in a saucepan over low heat, stirring gently. As soon as the mixture is combined and smooth, remove it from the heat and set it aside to cool slightly. The chocolate should still be fairly liquid. Cut the cooled cake into 16 squares. Using a fork to hold the cake cube, hold it over the glaze and use a spoon to pour more glaze over the cube until it's covered on the top and sides. Set on wax paper and continue with the next cube. When the glaze on the cubes has almost set, put the coconut on a plate. Lightly press the glazed sides and top of the cube into the coconut to coat.
Try subbing some of the flour for cocoa powder to make a chocolate cake or vary the flavors of jam in the filling. Lemon cake rolled in lemon curd is also delicious.
For extra fun, the coconut may be tinted or the cakes can be rolled in sprinkles instead of coconut.