A couple of weeks ago, B and her four and a half year old daughter H visited, and we baked a cake together. B suggested something with icing might go down well, and I was inspired by Shady Baker Jane’s sweet Australia Day cake; so a lamington cake it would be.
For an iconic cake, what better source than Merle from the CWA? Foolproof and four and a half year old proof, surely.
And it was. H and I measured and stirred and counted out cups and spoons and eggs. B graciously tidied away said cups and spoons for washing up later. We checked the butter was soft enough to cream by pushing it with our little fingers; we double checked the recipe to make sure we’d used every ingredient. And we licked beaters, because if there was any wisdom a young cake baker should receive, it is that one must always taste the batter, and the cook always licks the beaters.
This was a big cake mix — obviously meant for a lamington pan, which I don’t have — so we used a brownie tin and just under a dozen very small paper baking cups. The advantage was that those little cakes would be cooked and ready to eat faster than the main cake. Next time (when I’m cooking without my young apprentice) I shall halve the recipe and simply use my brownie tin. The cake was lovely and moist; a good basic plain cake, and every baker needs one of those in her repertoire.
But the icing — well, wow-wee. This is why people write books about giving up the evils of sugar. This stuff was addictive; a pure, sweet chocolaty sugar rush. We swirled and daubed it on the cakes then topped with large flakes of shredded coconut, which sat beautifully on the main cake in particular.
A fun day was had by all. H left with all the little cakes packed into a fancy tin — B refused to take any of the main cake! At first I was fearful I would never get through it all, especially all that wicked icing. But I did! A lamington cake is a fine thing, and should not be restricted to Australia Day celebrations or baking days with little girls.
A lot of coconut happening here:
Adapted from Merle’s recipe posted on the Random House website. Use the specified large rectangular cake tin (31 cm x 21, and 4.5 cm deep), or a 20 cm brownie tin plus baking cups as we did.
- Preheat oven to 180 and prep your chosen baking tin.
- Cream 250 gms soft butter with 1 ½ cups sugar.
- Beat in 4 eggs then 1 tspn vanilla.
- Sift in 2 ½ cups SR flour, 2 tbspns cornflour, 1 tspn baking powder (yes, SR flour and baking powder) and a pinch of salt.
- Now stir thru ½ cup greek yoghurt. It will be a very stiff batter.
- Transfer batter into your cake tin and bake for 40 minutes or until done. If you’re using smaller baking cups, these will be done in 20–25 minutes.
- Allow to cool a little before icing. To make icing, sift together 2 cups icing sugar and 2 tbspns cocoa powder. Moosh in 90 gms softened butter and 1 tsp vanilla. You won’t get it all combined — don’t worry, the hot water next brings it all together. So gradually add hot water; start with 2 tbspns and trickle more until you get the consistency you desire (we stopped at a thick frosting-like paste). Taste and adjust; we added more cocoa for a sweet but proper chocolaty taste.
- Spread the icing over the cake and sprinkle over as much coconut (desiccated or flaked) as you desire.