worldly wednesdays: lamingtons recipe a visit to australia
Aboriginal Australians are believed to have first arrived on the Australian mainland by boat from the Indonesian archipelago between 40,000 to 60,000 years ago. They spoke one or more of hundreds of separate languages and dialects, and their lifestyles and cultural traditions differed from region to region.
The first recorded European contact with Australia was in March 1606, when Dutch explorer Willem Janszoon charted the west coast of Cape York Peninsula in Queensland. European explorers and traders continued to chart the coastline of Australia, then known as New Holland. In 1688, William Dampier became the first British explorer to land on the Australian North West coast. It was not until 1770 that another Englishman, Captain James Cook made a scientific voyage to the South Pacific in order to further chart the east coast of Australia and claim it for the British Crown.
Britain decided to use its new outpost as a penal colony. The First Fleet of 11 ships carried about 1500 people – half of them convicts. The fleet arrived in Sydney Harbor on 26 January 1788, and it is on this day every year that Australia Day is celebrated.
About 160,000 men and women were brought to Australia as convicts from 1788 until the practice of transporting convicts to Australia ended in 1868. The convicts were joined by free immigrants beginning in the early 1790s. The wool industry and the gold rushes of the 1850s created the financial opportunity that encouraged free settlers to come to Australia.
The Commonwealth of Australia was formed in 1901 through the federation of six states under a single constitution. Australia fought on the side of Britain in the World Wars and became a long-standing ally of the United States when threatened by Imperial Japan during World War II. Trade with Asia increased and a post-war multicultural immigration program received more than 6.5 million migrants from every continent. The population tripled in six decades to around 21 million in 2010, with people originating from 200 countries sustaining the 14th biggest economy in the world.
The treat we’ve cooked up in honor of Australia is the iconic Lamington, which was named after the governor of Queensland; Lord Lamington (Governor of Queensland from 9 April 1896 to 19 December 1901.)
The Lamington is as Australian as meat pies and Vegemite and it is Australia’s equivalent to America’s cup cake. Both are moist cakes that can be eaten with your hands. You will fall in love with the delicious sponge cake, dipped in a chocolate sauce that soaks into the moist cake then coated with coconut. And, the next time you have to bake something for a bake sale try making these instead of cup cakes. The Lamingtons are perfect little treats. When packaged in adorable boxes they are irresistible. You will be a bake sale super star.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
4 cups (1 lb.) (454 grams) confectioners’ (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted
1/3 cup (30 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons (42 grams) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk
2 cups unsweetened desiccated coconut
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place oven rack to middle position. Butter, or spray with a nonstick cooking spray, the bottom and sides of an 8 inch square cake pan.
2. In a large bowl sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. In bowl of electric mixer beat the butter until soft. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.
4. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with flour.
5. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 25 – 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
6. Cool the cake in its pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then place a wire rack on top of the cake pan and invert, lifting off the pan. Re-invert. Once the cake has completely cooled cut into 16 two-inch squares. Wrap the cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or even overnight.
7. Place the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, butter and milk in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir the mixture until it becomes smooth and of pouring consistency.
8. To assemble put the 16 squares of cakes on a wire rack that is placed over a baking sheet (to catch the drips). Spoon or ladle the chocolate sauce over each square of cake, making sure you covers all sides. Transfer the chocolate covered cake to the plate of coconut and roll the cake in the coconut, covering all sides. Transfer the lamington to a clean wire rack to set.