You know what they say about March: in like a Lion, out like a Lamington. At least, that's what I say. OK, technically I've never said that before today.
Nonetheless, I couldn't imagine a sweeter way to say "smell ya later" to March than with these traditional Australian treats, named after Lord Lamington (Governor of Queensland from 1896 - 1901) comprised of dense cake absolutely coated in rich fudge coating and feathered with sweet coconut on top of everything.
My suggestion? Make some today. No fooling, it's a sweet way to end one month and go into another--and nobody would call an April that began with a leftover Lamington breakfast "the cruelest month".
This recipe is lightly adapted from the one on Joy of Baking.
For the cakes
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup cream or milk (I used cream)
For the chocolate Frosting:
- 4 cups (1 pound) confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup cream or milk
For the coating:
- 2 cups shredded coconut
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Place oven rack to middle position. Grease an 8x8-inch baking pan and set to the side.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set to the side.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy--2 or 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Add the vanilla and beat until combined.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and milk in alternating increments, beginning and ending with flour.
- Spread the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Bake in your preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Place a wire rack on top of cake and invert, lifting off pan. Once the cake is cool, cut it into 16 2-inch squares. Wrap the cake (as one unit is fine) in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or even overnight--this makes it much easier to coat with chocolate later on.
- Make the chocolate frosting. Place the confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder, butter and milk in a double boiler. Heat on low, stirring the mixture until it becomes smooth and of pouring consistency.
- Assemble your Lamingtons. Make a production line; put the 16 squares of cakes on a wire rack that is placed over a baking sheet (to catch the dripping chocolate). Have the coconut ready on a large plate and the chocolate frosting. Ladle the chocolate frosting over each square of cake, making sure you cover all sides. (It is best to do a few squares at a time.) With a small offset spatula or knife transfer the chocolate covered cake to the plate of coconut and roll the cake in the coconut, covering all sides. Gently transfer the lamington to a clean wire rack to set. Repeat with the rest of the cake squares. Once the Lamingtons have set, store in an airtight container for several days.
Note: Also, Joy of Baking has a helpful tip: When you ladle the frosting over the cake, some of the frosting will drip onto the pan. Pour this frosting back in your bowl and reuse (strain if necessary). If the icing becomes too thick to pour, simply place the frosting back over the saucepan of simmering water and reheat until it is of pouring consistency. (You may have to do this a few times as the frosting has a tendency to thicken over time. Add a little more milk to frosting if necessary to get pouring consistency.)