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Wednesday 26 January 2011

Re-Inventing the Lamington 2011 Day Ten: Baked Alaska Lamingtons

It looks kind of like a lamington meringue cave...

(In which Mr. P tries. Yet fails.)

I am not a food stylist. I cannot make food look pretty when it doesn't want to. That's what the Kewpies are for.

Today's lamingtons were originally going to be made with chocolate cake and coated in a rich chocolate chestnut ganache. You cannot deny that they sound wonderful, but they were not to be. Last time I opened a can of chestnut purée to make some brownies (that never got blogged!), I ate almost the entire tin and I just cannot face that sort of greed-induced nausea again. I'm sorry. Don't make me do it.

So, inspired by Ms. Humble's Lemon Meringue Lamington (the most amazing thing I have ever seen) from last year, I decided to get creative with the egg whites.

I have never made Baked Alaska before, or even eaten it, but it intrigues me. Ice-cream getting baked and not melting is quite an exciting idea. Except when I do it, the ice-cream melts and I can't make it look pretty like the lamington it was inspired by.

Gah. The good news is that even ugly Baked Alaska Lamingtons taste delicious!

Happy Australia Day everybody! Thanks for playing along with me again this year, and also for all the entries you've sent my way. We already have more than last year, and I've been told even more are headed this way since the deadline was extended. See you back here for the round up!

Baked Alaska Lamingtons

(I'm not going to lie: I bought this cake today. I just couldn't face any more baking, as yesterday was pretty full on. Use any cake you like!)

You will need:

cake - I used a bought Madeira loaf
ice-cream - I used shop bought vanilla
jam - I did make this! It was raspberry, peach and pear, from last Summer
2 egg whites
1/4 cup caster sugar
dessicated coconut

  1. First, make the cake sandwiches. Slice the cake in half and spread with jam. Then fill with ice-cream. I used a block, so it was easy to slice. Store in the freezer while you make the meringue, and heat the oven to 190°C.
  2. (For the meringue coating, know that this amount generously covers two small lamingtons. Scale up accordingly.) Beat the egg whites until frothy, then add the sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
  3. Cut the now chilled cake sandwich into as many lamingtons as you require. Place them on a lined baking sheet and cover with the glossy meringue. Smooth with a spatula and sprinkle with coconut.
  4. Bake for 5 - 10 minutes or until browned. Serve immediately.

Tuesday 25 January 2011

Re-Inventing the Lamington 2011 Day Nine: Peppermint Chocolate Lamingtons

I did look in the garden for some fresh mint to garnish these.
But then I remembered that it was January.

(In which Mr. P changes all the plans.)

I have said on this blog numerous times that I am prone to doing things on a whim. Today will be further evidence of that. Not this lamington specifically, but what I have to say before we deal with it and all its pepperminty, chocolate goodness.

Tomorrow is supposed to be the deadline for Re-Inventing the Lamington 2011 entries. It occurred to me just the other day that I could extend the deadline to the end of the month, since I am going to be quite busy over the next few days anyway and last year doing the lamington round-up post took me an age (I had a cold and therefore a bad temperament). So I'll be accepting entries all the way up until January 31. People will get an extra weekend to bake, and I can relax a little and not feel so rushed.

Also, tomorrow's lamington is going to be changed. I had an idea about how I could better it, so you might not get an early morning post as per usual, because I may need to wait for some afternoon light for the photos.

How's that for on a whim?

Now: today, I am back doing it for the vegans (except for the sprinkles - I just couldn't face making chocolate shavings). These were originally going to be Vegan Devil's Food Cake Lamingtons, but I can never resist an extract. (Acting on a whim again).

The chocolate cake is the same as for the Chocolate Maple and Brazil Nut Lamingtons of last week, and is every bit as delicious as it was then. But since coconut and mint don't seem to me to be the sort of flavours that would get on very well, I had to recruit the chocolate vermicelli to do my bidding. They aren't vegan; I have let you down. But they are delicious and remind me of being a kid and the excitement of being able to put them on our ice-cream after tea, so I make no apologies for their appearance today. Nothing is to stop a real vegan from changing them for fancy-pants homemade chocolate shavings.

I'll see you on Australia Day (it's tomorrow!) for the final lamington of my 2011 hit parade.

Peppermint Chocolate Lamingtons

You will need:

1 vegan chocolate cake - recipe here
400g plain chocolate
1 tbsp vegetable oil (or butter, if you aren't vegan)
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp peppermint extract
chocolate sprinkles or coconut

  1. Start by cutting your cake into cubes. This is easier if the cake is chilled or frozen, but still possible at room temperature. You just might end up with ramshackle lamingtons like mine.
  2. Next, melt the chocolate, oil and syrup together. Add the extract and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Put the sprinkles into a shallow dish. Now using a couple of forks, quickly dip the cakes into the chocolate coating and then roll them in the sprinkles. Allow to set on a wire rack for an hour or two before serving.

Monday 24 January 2011

Re-Inventing the Lamington 2011 Day Eight: White Blood Cell Lamingtons

Work with me...

See! They look just like white blood cells!

(In which Mr. P multi-tasks.)

In terms of academia, I have never really been much of a scientist. I did have a childhood love of chemistry sets, which has been spoken about before, but never really amounted to much of a chemist at school. Or a biologist. Though, some of the girls in my class used to have a real crush on our Biology teacher, who I think was called Mr. Scott, and who wore a leather jacket and rode to school on a motorcycle. I never really understood it. Their taste or Biology both.

However, I have come, somewhat late in life, to enjoy science in a whole new way. Via the medium of blogging and specifically the super-blog known as Not So Humble Pie. Who ever would have guessed that micro-biology and cookies could fuse so deliciously? I have been busting to get onto to one of Ms. Humble's 'Science Cookie Round Ups' for almost a year, but have thus far never had the inclination (or, let's be honest, knowledge) to make a decent attempt.

All that is about to change. They may not be cookies, but these lamingtons are going to get me on that list. I'm re-inventing and science baking at the same time. Who says men can't multi-task?

The science:

I was always under the impression that red blood cells carry the oxygen around your body, and the white ones (which I think look a little like round, poofy lamingtons) fight infectious diseases. As it happens, further research into the matter has revealed my explanation to be true... up to a point. It is a rather 'secondary school' approach. But it works for me. I don't work in a lab.

These lamingtons are actually cake pops. Not heard of them? They made this blogger really famous. I have until this point resisted making them, because I just didn't see the point of going to all the effort of making a cake only to then go and crush it, mix with frosting and roll it into little balls. But having been 'blessed' - ha! - with a ton of left-over cake crumbs from other lamingtons, I decided to get fancy.

Were they worth it?

Well, yes and no. Yes because I got to make White Blood Cell Lamingtons and I have been sitting on the idea since last year. And no, because, well.... I just don't really like them. I'd rather have a real piece of cake. But after dinner, with tea or coffee, they'd be OK. Just not worth crushing a good cake for. Thus, I'm not giving any exact quantities here. I'm not assuming anybody would actually bake specifically for this.

White Blood Cell Lamingtons

You will need:

cake crumbs - I had a bowl full of left over chocolate, ginger and vanilla cake, crumbed
frosting - I used some left over cream cheese icing
white chocolate, melted

  1. Mix the cake crumbs with as much frosting as you need to make a mixture that easily clumps together and can be rolled into balls.
  2. Roll it into balls.
  3. Chill the balls.
  4. Roll the balls in melted white chocolate and then coconut.
Re-Invent the Lamington Yourself!

Sunday 23 January 2011

Re-Inventing the Lamington 2011 Day Seven: Snickerdoodle Lamingtons

You know, I feel like this cup of tea is missing something...

Yup. That's better.

(In which Mr. P realises that it has all gone too far...)

Mr. Other P's parents and aunt came to visit last weekend. I was away working. The idea to make Lamington Snickerdoodles came about because I wanted to leave a full cookie jar so that they'd be able to have something home made with a cup of tea and see that I do look after their son and nephew, and not just shout at him all the time.

How did it come to this? I feel so... considerate.

We used to make snickerdoodles when we were children. My mum didn't have a big enough mixing bowl, so we used a big, green stock pot, and she didn't have US cup measure either (American things are much easier to get hold of these days), so we'd improvise and use a coffee cup. I know that that makes us sound like gypsies, but I don't care. I loved how they made the house smell of butter and cinnamon, and that the recipe made about four thousand cookies, so we'd have them for weeks. Along with cinnamon toast, because we always made far too much of the cinnamon sugar coating. On purpose. My mother is not the kind of lady to feed her kids sugared toast unless there's a major surplus of cinnamon sugar that needs using up. Well, she'd probably let my nephews and nieces have some whenever, but I think that's what's called a grandmother's prerogative.

(And in fact, I can't wait until my niece is old enough to start helping in the kitchen. I'm going to recruit her for snickerdoodle production!)

These Lamington Snickerdoodles are quite special. I have taken the somewhat rash decision to add cocoa to the cinnamon sugar (don't look so aghast), and topped the baked cookies with melted chocolate and coconut, à la lamington. You love it when I speak French, don't you?

I did consider rolling the cookie dough balls in coconut instead of sugar and spices, but didn't see how I would be able to incorporate the cinnamon sugar if I did so. Cinnamon sugar is the whole point of a snickerdoodle, so my consideration remained just that.

I think this recipe pushes the boundaries of what can be considered a lamington, and really, these aren't. But when presented with this argument, my response is double pronged:

  1. It's not actually that easy to come up with ten good, achievable ideas for Re-Invented Lamingtons in a few, short days off.
  2. Delicious Delicious Delicious is my blog, and I can do whatever the hell I want.
Lamington Snickerdoodles are sweet, spicy and chocolatey, and the cakey texture of the cookies goes really well with the dessicated coconut topping. Basically, I would make these again, because they are easy to rustle up and the rewards are high. We're talking full cookie jar to please visitors in under an hour.

(Oh, and if you're wondering, apparently they loved them. As did I.)

A note: we always used the Betty Crocker recipe for these. But I didn't have any cream of tartar (read: it had expired by three years), so Martha is helping us out today.

Lamington Snickerdoodles
adapted from Martha Stewart Cookies

You will need:

2 3/4 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups caster sugar + 2 tbsp
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tsp cocoa powder
100g dessicated coconut
200g chocolate of your choice

  1. Mix together the cocoa, cinnamon and 2 tbsp sugar and set aside in a bowl.
  2. Beat together the eggs, butter and sugar until creamy and smooth. Add the flour, baking powder and salt, and mix to form a soft dough.
  3. Pinch off walnut sized portions of the dough and form into balls. Roll in the cinnamon cocoa sugar and place on a lined baking sheet, well spaced apart.
  4. Bake at 200°C for 8 - 10 minutes or until risen and puffy. Cookies will be golden brown.
  5. Cool on a wire rack.
  6. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate. Spread about 1 tsp chocolate on each cookie and sprinkle with coconut. Allow chocolate to set. Store airtight.
Makes approximately 4o cookies.

Saturday 22 January 2011

Re-Inventing the Lamington 2011 Day Six: Vegan Chocolate Maple and Brazil Nut Lamingtons

Remember that just the other day I accidentally deleted a photograph of a lamington I wanted to post and was quite cross? Well, that has just happened again and now you will never see the insides of this lamington. Ever.

(In which Mr. P does it for the vegans, yeah!)

In my 28 years (we're pushing 29, but on a good day, and in the right light, I can pass for 25, so it's OK - you can still imagine me as a sprightly young thing, and it will only be half untrue) on this planet, I must admit that I haven't spent a great deal of time thinking that I should become a vegan. In the last few years though, the thought has crossed my mind once or twice. Most recently was just today, when somebody passed me their coat and I realised it was real mink ('farmed' - whatever that means), and I immediately wanted to be sick. I think the time before that was when I was preparing some pheasant for dinner and I suddenly had this mental image of the cute pheasants that hop - or whatever that thing is that pheasants do - around the country roads near where my mum lives.

I am a weak man. This is the reason my thoughts of giving up meat never turn into actions. Though, also, I honestly don't think it would be the meat that would be what I missed, were I to veganize myself (so to speak). No, it would be the dairy products. If you took away my cheese, I would just... feel very sad indeed. Imagine: no after dinner cheese board, no tiramisu or cheesecake. No paneer.


It would never work for me.

The good news though, is that I know how to make a really delicious, rich, moist and fudgy chocolate cake that is completely free of any animal products whatsoever. And that I used it to make these lamingtons.

Why did I do this? Well, I could tell you that I was inspired by last year's winning eggless lamington . But actually, that would be lying. The truth is this: vegan chocolate cake is cheap to make. No eggs (I only ever buy free-range, which can be expensive). No butter (which has more than doubled in price over the last five years - what's with that?). I'd already made a gingerbread, a yellow cake and a genoise for my lamington challenge. I'm not going bankrupt for the sake of a few cake cubes, however much I love them.

That said, unglamorous though it is, I really think you should try this cake. I've made it before as cupcakes (the batter makes 12), as a loaf cake, and as layer cakes, but chose to bake this one in a 20cm square tin (which I might just start calling my lamington pan, so often has it been used for them!). So it's very forgiving. You don't have to cover it in vegan maple frosting and chopped Brazil nuts. But you'd be missing out!

Chocolate Maple and Brazil Nut Lamingtons
metric version here

You will need:

For the cake -

1 1/2 cups plain flour
3/4 cups caster sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp vinegar (any kind)
5 tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups cold water

For the icing and coating -

200g vegan margarine (I used soy Pure - we always have some in the fridge)
450g icing sugar
2 tsp maple extract or 2 tbsp maple syrup
200g Brazil nuts, chopped, plus extra whole nuts to garnish

  1. The cake couldn't be easier. Simply whisk everything together and pour into a greased 20cm square tin. Bake at 180°C for 35 minutes, or until done (when a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean, blah blah blah).
  2. Turn out immediately onto a cooling rack.
  3. Meanwhile, make the icing: beat together the sugar, margarine and extract until smooth and creamy.
  4. Cut the cool cake into 16 squares, and carefully ice each one on all four sides. This is messy. Sorry.
  5. Roll the iced cakes in chopped nuts, and place into cupcake wrappers to set. Garnish with whole Brazil nuts.

Friday 21 January 2011

Re-Inventing the Lamington 2011 Day Five: Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge Lamingtons

The devil cocktail sticks took some time out from cheese and pineapple stabbing to attack a lamington.

(In which Mr. P joins you from Paris.)

As I sit here, jet lagged and grumpy in my Parisian hotel room, I remember how delicious this lamington was when I ate it last week, and think how much I would love another. The fact that I have just polished off half a bar of caramelised pecan filled milk chocolate (you have to give France its due - fantastic chocolate bars) does little to stop my craving. Basically, chocolate with nuts is my absolute favourite dessert combination.

(For now.)

A brief aside to illustrate my long-standing love affair with chocolate and nuts:

Back when we were children and it was Christmas time, there would always be the obligatory tin of Cadbury's Roses passed around. My favourites were always the swirly ones with hazelnuts in, and I used to fish round among the coloured wrappers, like some well trained cormorant, looking for the clear cellophane with orange tips. When they were gone, I quite liked the coffee creams, which is not really what most children would go for I know, but hey: I liked the idea of a chocolate being filled with sugary fondant! I'm not saying I'd eat them now. Though I probably would.

Anyway, I digress. My stepdad used to, at the start of the annual tin pass around, take out all of the hazelnut whirls (turns out they weren't just my favourites, though my brother and sister both preferred the big, purple bean shaped ones with caramel and a nut in the middle) and keep them for himself. I thought this was the height of bad behaviour, but at the same time, longed to be an adult and therefore at the top of the pecking order, so that I could do the same.

Or course, now I am an adult, and you'll be pleased to know I don't. I don't think Mr. Other P would go for that to be honest. And we never buy Cadbury's Roses. But, my love for nuts and chocolate remains undiminished, and so I present you with my latest creation, the ne plus ultra of lamingtons, the Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge Lamington. Sadly unavailable in Parisian bakeries.

Note the crushed salted peanut coating: I really do care about you guys.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge Lamingtons

You will need:

1/2 a quantity of yellow cake (recipe here, adapted from Rose's Heavenly Cakes)

For the fudge icing and filling -

1 jar crunchy peanut butter
200g milk chocolate
200g dark chocolate
100g soft unsalted butter

To coat -

400g salted peanuts, chopped

  1. I am presuming you're starting with the cake already baked and cooled. If not, the recipe is here. Split the cake in half, and sandwich with peanut butter. You may allow yourself a small piece at this point. There should always be a cook's treat.
  2. Melt the chocolates together (I do that in the microwave, in 30 second blasts, on half power), and stir in the butter until it melts. If you want a shinier glaze, you could add a tablespoon of golden syrup.
  3. Place the chopped nuts in a shallow dish.
  4. When the chocolate has cooled slightly, start coating the lamingtons: cut the sandwiched cake into cubes and turn them in the icing using a few forks (and working quickly) then roll and coat in the chopped nuts.
  5. Set the lamingtons on a wire rack to cool and set for a few hours before serving.

Thursday 20 January 2011

Re-Inventing the Lamington 2011 Day Four: Tiramisu Lamingtons

Gimme a 'Hey Yeah!' if you missed the coconut.

(In which Mr. P talks irrational fears.)

You know, coffee making can be quite terrifying.

I make coffee all the time (and not just on the ground - I can do it at altitude too!), and always used to think that it was cheating and trashy to use instant. Or that I didn't even like instant, which let me tell you, is no longer the case. When you spend nights in hotel rooms as often as I do, you start to feel thankful for those ridiculously tiny hotel room kettles (that always seem to have handles that overheat and burn you when you pour) and sachets of Nescafé that taste differently depending on where in the world you are (and for the record, I prefer the French arôme corsé & intense if I'm needing caffeine, and the Italian Gran Aroma relax if I'm going fun-free - told you I spent a lot of time in hotels.).

The 'cheating and trashy' thing came about after I first went to Italy on holiday years ago and realised that you could make great coffee at home every morning using one of those little moka pots that seem to have become quite trendy and now cost loads more than they used to. Fortunately, I invested when I was still young, and spent several years insisting on only drinking 'the real stuff'.

Don't call me pretentious.

Thing is, although I have now learned to love the instant - and in fact, am going to make one right this minute - I can't really get my head around using it to make a tiramisu, which is anyway a dessert that I have mixed feelings for (those who know me in real life will know what I mean - me, re-invention and Italy's #1 dessert didn't fare too well against those pesky judges). But those moka pots heat up to around 4000°C, and take ages to cool down. Since we've had the kitchen re-fitted, I have been suffering from this incredible reluctance to use ours, just in case I accidentally put it down on the new side board while it's still hot, and burn it. I just wouldn't be able to live with myself. I'm the same with our new saucepans - turmeric is not allowed anywhere near them, and I have a special pan for when we make tarka dal.

(Oh, stop looking at me like that. You know it makes sense.)

Anyway, more to the point, our moka makes six shots of espresso, and I only reckoned I would need about two for this. So I make no apologies for bringing out the Red Mountain. If you feel differently, you may act accordingly.

Also, I know I'm pushing it with the tiramisu connection here, but my friend Francesco makes this dessert sometimes by sandwiching a couple of those little brown amaretti biscuits with a teaspoon of mascarpone, then dipping them in espresso and rolling in coconut. They are divine, and in fact one day, I might make them for the blog.

I used another recipe from Rose's Heavenly Cakes for this lamington, a version of her genoise cake. Genoise is incredibly light and very absorbent, when it comes to syrups and glazes, so is perfect for making lamingtons. Until I got my copy of the book, I was apprehensive of these types of cakes, but Rose really does instill confidence. (That means you need to enter the contest to win a copy!)

Let us create.

Tiramisu Lamingtons

For the genoise cake -

4 eggs
100g caster sugar
50g plain flour
50g cornflour
45g butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the glaze -

200g dessicated coconut
400g icing sugar
50ml strong coffee (use 1 tbsp instant coffee, or make a pot of espresso)

To serve -

250g mascarpone

  1. First, make the genoise. I bake it in a 20cm square tin, but otherwise, you need a round one of about 22cm. Grease the tin, and line the bottom with parchment. Heat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Melt the butter (ideally, you'd clarify it too, but I never bother), and add the vanilla. Keep to one side in a small bowl.
  3. Sift the flour and cornflour together; set aside.
  4. Set a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, and place in it the eggs and sugar. Whisk the mixture gently using a balloon whisk until it feels warm to the touch. Don't be scared about the eggs scrambling, but don't heat them so much that your finger feels hot. Just think nice and warm.
  5. Remove from the heat, and beat with electric beaters on high speed for 10 minutes, until the mixture has more than quadrupled in volume.
  6. Working quickly, add about a cupful of the egg mixture to the butter and vanilla, and stir until combined. It will be the consistency of mayonnaise.
  7. Then, sprinkle half of the flour over the beaten eggs, and fold in gently with a balloon whisk (better than a spoon or spatula, as it will help to avoid deflating the egg mixture). Add the rest of the flour and the butter mixture, and fold in thoroughly.
  8. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until risen and golden. Immediately turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
  9. Cut the cooled cake into squares, and prepare the glaze. For this, mix the coffee and icing sugar together, and if necessary, add a little hot water to make a thick-ish icing that will easily stick to the cake cubes.
  10. Put the coconut into a shallow dish; dip the cakes first into the glaze, then roll in the coconut. Set aside on a wire rack to dry for several hours.
  11. To serve, sandwich the coated cakes with mascarpone. There you are - tiramisu lamingtons!

Wednesday 19 January 2011

Re-Inventing the Lamington 2011 Day Three: Cookies and Cream Lamingtons

Until 5 seconds ago, I had another photo to put here, but I deleted it. How I hate myself.

(In which Mr. P parts company with a dear friend.)

Nothing is ever universally appreciated. Some things are not for everybody. Champagne. Opera. Incest. They all have their fans, but nobody likes them all. It is the same with dessicated coconut.

(Speaking of fans, allow me to make a little insertion here to mention the Delicious Delicious Delicious Facebook Page. I feel like I often take an age to 'moderate' comments on the blog; feel free to stop off and say hi on Facebook too. Unless you're the 'Generic Viagra' guy who keeps spamming me - we don't want those comments, thank you.)

Last year, all of my lamingtons were coconut-coated. You might say I didn't take the re-invention far enough (to which I might say 'Get Out.'). But actually, I think the coconut coating is part of what really makes a lamington a lamington. Even more than the cake or the chocolate.

However, coconut is not for everybody. *sigh* So I have attempted, this year, to use a couple of other coatings for my lams.

I present you with crushed Oreo cookies. I believe that as The Father of Lamington Re-Invention I can sanction their use here. Sure, I'm a little bit sad to deny coconut its rightful place and duty, but the prospect of a Cookies and Cream Lamington just seemed too good to turn down.

I actually got the idea for these from a really old recipe of mine from back when Delicious Delicious Delicious first started for Chocolate Peppermint Cookies and Cream Cupcakes. OK, this time there is no peppermint extract, but to a Brit like me, cookies and cream is still an exotic-sounding combination. Nothing to stop you adding a teaspoon of peppermint extract to the frosting either.

Enough talking though: let's cut to the chase (I'm really annoyed that I deleted that photograph!). These were delicious. You don't even need to bother with the cake, just make a bowl of the frosting and spread it on to some Oreos. Perfection. Though perhaps the sort of perfection that can lead to this.


Cookies and Cream Lamingtons

You will need:

For the cake -

Half a recipe of this yellow cake

For the frosting -

125g soft unsalted butter
200g full fat cream cheese
400g icing sugar

To coat -

1 package of Oreo cookies, crushed

  1. Bake, cool, and slice the cake into cubes. For ease, make a full recipe, and freeze half of it well wrapped in cling film. You can use it to make lamingtons at a later date, or for a trifle or something. No harm ever came from having cake in the freezer.
  2. Make the frosting: cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth and amalgamated, then beat in the icing sugar. You should have a creamy, smooth icing.
  3. Using a small spatula (or a table knife), apply the icing to each side of the cake cubes. It is easier to frost them all before coating in crumbs, so have ready a sheet of parchment to sit them on while they wait. It is messy work, but just thing about how delicious it will be to lick the bowl when you finish.
  4. Put the cookie crumbs into a shallow dish, and quickly roll the frosted cake cubes in them. Since these lamingtons stay quite moist, I think it's easier to place them into cupcake cases, to stop them sticking together. Allow to stand for a few hours before serving.

Tuesday 18 January 2011

Re-Inventing the Lamington 2011 Day Two: White Chocolate Gingerbread Lamingtons

(In which Mr. P accepts his flaws.)

This doesn't really have much to do with lamingtons, but please bear with me; we'll get there.

I want to be good at making chutney. I feel like I should be. I love cutting up the vegetables into nice, small pieces, and weighing everything out carefully; I love collecting the jars to store my spicy and sour preserves in, and buying shiny new lids to use with them; I love the trip to my local spice merchants, Spice of Life, where I can be sure that no matter what conversation I try to strike up with the somewhat eccentric owner, I will no doubt end up buying something unusual that I don't need and hadn't gone in for (beetroot powder, for example).

I get the most immense satisfaction from hearing the lids pop when I bottle the chutney, knowing it means I achieved a perfect seal and can squirrel the filled jars away in the upstairs cupboard and give them away as Christmas gifts when they've matured a little, decorated simply with rosette or a bit of ribbon.

Yet all of this pleasure is ruined when I taste the chutney myself. Am I doing it wrong?

This year, we made and gave a lot of chutney as presents (everybody loves a cheeseboard). We also, happily, were given loads. I mean loads - our jam shelf looks like a W.I. stall at the moment. Crushingly, almost every single one of the jars we were given tastes nicer than what we made ourselves (at least to these taste buds), and it is just... devastating. It might be that chutney is also subject to the 'Somebody-Else-Made-This-For-Me-So-It's-Nicer-Than-One-I-Made-Myself' phenomenon - think cups of tea - but even so... Where is the justice? I want to like my chutney!

(I also can't bear the idea that our chutney really is below standard, and that the people we gave it to wish we hadn't bothered. That really is a worry.)

However (and here we start to come back to the lamingtons), for fear of not having enough jars of chutney or chilli relish or whatever to give as gifts, I also decided this year to bake loaves of gingerbread to give to family and friends, and they really were a success. Every person I gave a loaf to came back and told me that it was wonderful and could they have some more next year. What can I say? I know where my strengths lie (but am not giving up on the chutney - I have too many jars waiting to be used).

I recently re-baked and blogged about that gingerbread, and decided that it was going to do double duty for me and form the basis of my White Chocolate Gingerbread Lamingtons. And let me be clear: these are some of the most delicious cakes I have ever made. Ever. There's something almost tropical about the way the ginger and coconut flavours mingle with the sweet vanilla of the white chocolate, and yet at the same time, the lamingtons seem Christmassy and suited to cold days. I guess this means that you could have them everyday and they would always seem appropriately perfect.

Yes. I am sanctioning the eating of lamingtons every day.

Because gingerbread is so sticky, these lamingtons are perfectly, lusciously moist.

I'm quite sure that these lamingtons would be marvellous with dark chocolate ganache enrobing them instead of melted white chocolate, but I chose not to use ganache for two reasons. The first was ease (I didn't want to mess about making a white chocolate ganache, which is trickier than making a good dark one, or at least I find it to be so), and the second being preference; I really like the way that the chocolate alone sets firm, and cracks satisfyingly when you bite into it. You must decide for yourself whether or not to follow suit; if you want a soft, creamy coating, then ganache is your friend.

The cake recipe is Nigella Lawson's; she allowed it to appear online here, so I am re-producing it here as well (though in the form of a half-batch, and slightly simplified - I don't muck about with bicarbonate of soda and warm water).

Forget chutney. Make these; they are fabulous.

White Chocolate Gingerbread Lamingtons

You will need:

For the gingerbread -

75g unsalted butter
100g golden syrup
100g treacle or molasses
75g dark muscovado sugar
1 tbsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
125ml milk
1 egg, beaten
150g plain flour

For the coating -

400g white chocolate, melted
400g dessicated coconut

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C and grease and line a 20cm square baking tin.
  2. In a saucepan, melt the butter, syrup, treacle, sugar and spices together over a low heat.
  3. Mix the milk with the egg and bicarbonate of soda and set aside. Remove the butter mixture from the heat, and cool slightly before adding the milk and egg. Stir well.
  4. Put the flour into a mixing bowl, and pour over the liquid mixture, stirring all the time to prevent lumps. The odd lump here and there is fine though, so don't worry if you have a few.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for around 40 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remember gingerbread is sticky by nature, so a few crumbs are OK. What you don't want on the skewer is any uncooked batter.
  6. Cool the gingerbread in the tin, and once cold, turn it out onto a wire rack. If not using immediately, wrap in parchment and store in a tin for up to 2 weeks.
  7. When ready to make lamingtons, cut the cake into 16 squares. Using a couple of forks, dip the cake cubes into first the white chocolate, and then the coconut. Roll them around to ensure a good coating, and allow to dry on a wire rack.

Monday 17 January 2011

Re-Inventing the Lamington 2011 Day One: Musk Lamingtons

Bad light can't keep a good lamington down.

(In which Mr. P talks insecurities.)

So here we are again. It is hard to believe that a whole year has passed since we launched our first attack on Australia's least impressive and most often spoiled cake export. But it has, and we must accept it.

Shockingly, and gratifyingly, I have already received entries from several readers for Re-Inventing the Lamington 2011, and let me tell you, they look pretty beautiful. Obviously this pleases me to no end, but it also terrifies me: my lamingtons are all done and dusted for this year (I'll be posting them while away on a long trip), and have been eaten. I cannot preen them any more to make them beautiful. It feels like I'm a host throwing a party, waiting for guests who I know will all look smarter and less tired than I do.

Thank God for the Kewpies. They offer something special.

The 12 months that have passed have seen me forget just how messy (but also fun!) lamington making can be, and also that while you don't need to be particularly skilled to produce a decent lamington, re-invented or not, you do need a certain abount of bravery and determination. Cake cubes are fragile and glazes, ganaches and icings are sticky, hostile environments. Lamington production requires you to be quick as a flash when coating the cake cubes, and sparing with whatever coating you have chosen.

This is not, gentlemen (and, I suppose, ladies as well), unlike hair styling. Spending too long rubbing too much product into your hair is only going to make you, in the end, look like a pile of rubbish. Hard to swallow, perhaps, but truthful none the less. So I was especially careful when making today's lamingtons to make sure I was speedy while dipping them in their sugar glaze. The glazed lamington (an idea I first had for last year's St. Clements Lamingtons) has a lot going for it - the cake absorbs moisture from the icing, keeping it super-moist, and the coconut coating forms a crisp shell. It is almost criminally delicious.

I didn't want this year to seem like a re-hash of last year (and it won't, promise), but tradition is a hard thing to shake off, so I am starting the re-inventions for 2011 with a nod to another one of Australia's uniquely famous confections - the musk stick.

No, I had never heard of these a few years ago either, until an Australian girl at the university I was at in Tokyo bought some at the embassy and shared them with us. They are quite intensely flavoured, pink, florally scented sugar sticks, and have a nice chewy texture. Australians call them 'lollies', which makes absolutely no sense to a Brit, but them we do live in opposing hemispheres, so differences abound.

I couldn't actually get musk sticks to make these lamingtons, but I did get hold of some musk flavoured Lifesavers, which were actually better. I ground them up in the pestle and mortar to make a buttercream filling for my lamingtons, and the flavour came through brilliantly, which was nice, because pulverising them took forever and I nearly gave up.

You're probably wondering why I didn't make them circular shaped, with holes in the centre, like an actual Lifesaver. Well, I did actually try to do that, but as I was cutting the holes, it occurred to me that I was wasting cake. You can't really ask me to do that, I'm afraid. It's one of my rules.

A torture device.

For these lamingtons, I didn't make another batch of last year's lamington base, but instead used one of the recipes from the book which is this year's first prize - Rose's Heavenly Cakes. It's her usual yellow cake recipe, and I baked it in a 20cm square tin. If you too want to make musk lamingtons, or a version of the lamington that is all your own doing, then know that a half batch of this recipe is enough. I had another 9 lamington recipes to get through, so took the decision to bake in bulk!

Musk Lamingtons

You will need:

For the cake -

5 egg yolks
200ml milk
2 tsp vanilla
250g plain flour
250g sugar
3 1/8 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
145g soft butter

For the glaze -

400g icing sugar
4tbsp hot water
200g dessicated coconut

For the buttercream filling -

100g soft butter
200g icing sugar
1 packet musk Livesavers, crushed (do 1/3 of a packet at a time)

  1. First, make the cake. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C, and grease a 20cm square baking tin.
  2. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl using a hand whisk. This is to evenly distribute the leavening agents.
  3. Mix the egg yolks and vanilla with 1/3 of the milk. Add the remaining milk to the flour mixture along with the butter.
  4. Beat the flour, butter and milk using an electric whisk on medium speed until the mixture comes together. Then scrape the sides of the bowl, and whisk on high speed for 90 seconds.
  5. Add the yolks and milk in two batches, beating for 30 seconds after each addition. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45 minutes, or until done.
  6. Cool the cake in the tin for 10 minutes before unmoulding onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Next, make the buttercream; simply beat the ingredients together until smooth.
  8. Slice the cake in half, and sandwich with the buttercream. Then cut the filled cake into cubes, ready to be glazed.
  9. Make the glaze: mix the icing sugar with the hot water until you have a thickish icing that will adhere to the cake cubes. Put the coconut onto a plate and begin dipping the cake cubes, first into the glaze, and then roll in coconut. Work quickly, and don't be afraid to get your hands dirty. It is unavoidable!

Friday 14 January 2011

Forever Nigella: Gingerbread

So, to get you up to speed:

It's Friday night. I thought I'd relax and treat myself to a night in with a steak and some wine. It sounds lovely, doesn't it? Mr. Other P is out with colleagues and I have the place to myself. Imagine, catching up on Corrie, or even getting to watch the DVD of The History Boysthat I bought ages ago and which he keeps vetoing whenever we decide to watch movies. Well, dream on: it's not happening.

My kitchen is full of cake, coconut and all manner of sprinkles as part of Re-Inventing the Lamington 2011, and desperately needs cleaning (though only after I fry my steak - no sense tidying up to make a mess, is there?); there i
s laundry literally exploding out of the spare room where I shut it to make me forget that it's there and needs ironing; we have no wine.

To top it all off, I'm on a deadline of midnight, when rather than turn into a pumpkin, I shall have to turn into friendly, charming Wonder Man and go and meet them all in town. (Why do I agree to these things?)

Deep breath.

I have poured myself a large Campari soda. Perhaps its bitterness will sooth mine?

Anyway, rather than chores, I have decided to post my entry for the fabulous Sarah of Maison Cupcake's new blogging event: Forever Nigella. Have you heard of it? There's a logo and everything! Witness:

How fabulous is this?

(I feel like I should have made a logo for Re-Inventing the Lamington!)

The minute I found out about this new event, I decided to post for it. I love Nigella; I feel like she's my friend. Quite often I pretend she's in the kitchen with me, telling my about what spices my ras-el-hanout is made up of, or that I shouldn't be stirring my rice with a spoon, but rather a fork.

Is that creepy? I don't care. Sometimes I also fantasize that I live in Hampstead and Nigel Slater comes round for tea, but instead we get drunk on gin and tonics. It could happen.


This month, the first, we're meant to blog a seasonal recipe, and I am doing Nigella's Sticky Gingerbread from Nigella Christmas.

Since rules state we can't post the recipe (I want to give it to you so badly!), I'll just say that I made it this Christmas in loaves to give as presents and everyone who got one requested the same for next year. It's that good... It's Nigella.

I made another batch this week for the lamington challenge (who says lamingtons can't be made from gingerbread?), and snapped some pictures on a dull, dark day, just for Forever Nigella. For next month's, maybe I'll go savoury - there is a LOT of cake around here at the moment.

I'm off to clean the kitchen. Or make another Campari soda...

Tuesday 4 January 2011

Re-Inventing the Lamington 2011!

Last year, Ms. Humble almost went more lamington crazy than I did!

OMG. It's that time of year again.

I'm sure that last year, after my first experience of lamington madness, I swore that I would never again embark on such a crazed baking mission. But you know what? I've always been quite a changeable person and have a tendancy to forget trauma. Plus, my new kitchen could do with a dusting of dessicated coconut. Welcome to Re-Inventing the Lamington 2011! I'm so glad you could come.

That's right. I am once again going to re-invent Australia's most famous and often under-appreciated baked good. No more dry, bread-like cubes of icing covered cake masquerading as treats! Say hello to 10 days of beauteous (I'll try!), home-spun creations sporting interesting flavour combinations, and sometimes inappropriate garnishes.

Cherry Ripe Lamingtons were my first stab at re-invention. I salivate in memory.

To the uninitiated, January 2010 saw Delicious Delicious Delicious go lamington crazy, posting a new lamington recipe everyday for 10 days leading up to Australia Day. (Which seems an appropriate day to make lamingtons!)

Once again, I shall be making this a contest and inviting to you join in, spread the word and bake along with me. Last year I was shocked at how creative and amazingly talented you all were. I hope this year even more of you feel inspired to re-invent the lamington, and unleash your inner baking fabulousness. You might even win a prize!

Yes. A prize. In a similar vein to last year's competition, which saw Sanjana of Ko Rasoi emerge victorious, this year's prize will also be food-related. I shall be awarding the best lamington submitted a copy of the incredibly wonderful Rose Levy Beranbaum's book, Rose's Heavenly Cakes.I first heard about Rose when hosting Re-Inventing the Lamington last year, and it's fair to say that her book has changed my life. Albeit in a very small, cake-related way. Her knowledge of baking is second to none, and her recipes are unlike anyone elses, from their ingredients to their mixing methods. I don't think I have ever made so many recipes from a single cookbook, and with such consistently good results. Her red velvet cake is to die for, her chocolate velvet fudge cake sensational, and her true orange génoise is a masterpiece. All these recipes and more are in the book. You want to win a copy, don't you?

If that doesn't float your cullinary boat, well, fear not. Second prize is a Kewpie. I've been letting them pose on my blog alongside the food for far too long now. It's about time they starred in some of your blogposts! The Kewpies come in a sealed box to protect their identity ( at least, that's what I think they're sealed for...), so I don't actually know what kind of doll you'll get. It might be an animal, a fruit or a vegetable. How exctiting!

So what do you have to do to enter? Why, I'm glad you asked!

  1. First come up with a unique lamington recipe. See last year's round-up for inspiration, if you have trouble.
  2. Make and photograph your lamington, and post it on your blog, along with the recipe. If you don't have a blog, you can still enter. Just email me photos of the lamington with your recipe, and I'll post it on Delicious Delicious Delicious, as part of the lamington round-up for 2011.
  3. Make sure to mention in your blog post that you're entering the lamingtons as part of Re-Inventing the Lamington 2011, and be sure to email me at the address above with a link to your post. Or leave a comment with a link to it, either way is fine.
  4. Deadline is 26 January 2011 at 12:00 GMT.
  5. Multiple entries are permitted. In fact, they are encouraged; everybody likes a lamington!
I hope you'll check back for the daily lamington posts which will be starting on 17 January. Even more so, I hope you'll bake a few lamingtons along with me an enter the contest.

Happy New Year, and here's to a few happy hours in the kitchen!
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