Friday, 25 January 2013

Baking With Baby 9 - Dairy Free Lamingtons

It seems that Saturday, being 26th January, is Australia Day. Suddenly, Lamington's have become a topic of conversation, on Twitter - all on account of Dan Lepard of the Guardian posting his recipe for these revered bites, which are apparently favoured by many Antipodeans. 

Have you heard of Lamington's before? I have to admit, neither had I, until recently. Basically, they're small squares of cake, dipped in chocolate icing, and rolled in desiccated coconut. Here's ours:

As made by baby and me!
Apparently they're named after some Lord (Lamington) who had some surprise guests and asked his chef to come up with something quick. Personally, I very much doubt the 'quick' as the recipe takes two days - unless of course the chef had some day-old cake and just shoved some chocolate on it to hide the fact. Now THAT I could believe, as a layer of chocolate could quite possibly hide a multitude, so to speak!

Somehow my journeying 'Down Under,' about ten years ago, which lasted all of three weeks, did not bring me into contact with said little cakeys. I was in New Zealand, mind you, but it seems the recipe for Lamington's is a hotly debated issue between Aussie's and Kiwi's - just like Pavlova's. If you ever want to create a diversion in a room which contains Aussies and Kiwi's, just start up a conversation about where the recipe came from - *KA-BOOM* I can assure you that one will run and run!!

SO, just how did they come to my attention? My lil' sis' just so happens to be married to an Aussie (our family is a bit like the United Nations) and posted Dan's recipe on Face Book, the other day. 

Intrigued, I hunted a bit further and found an allergy-free version of the same, on another blog (this site looks really beautiful, take a look), BUT once I discovered that chocolate Lamington's were not considered the genuine article, I hunted a little further, to find one that was. I then came across a recipe, posted by Queen Bee Allergy Free, which looks excellent for anyone who's Vegan or allergic to eggs. As she's Australian, I'm guessing it must be the genuine article!

The recipe I've chosen to follow, however, is a completely un-allergy-friendly recipe. I chose it on purpose partly because it looked authentic, - although, I must admit, it does come from a UK website!! However, it also looked 'doable' (simple, if you prefer) - using weights and measures with which I'm familiar - and it looked as though I could use my normal dairy and gluten free baking substitutes. I don't believe in complicating matters and do believe that with good dairy free and gluten free ingredients, you can achieve pretty decent results (although gluten free flour sometimes requires a bit of extra help). In this case, I've used Dove's gluten free Plain Flour, Pure Sunflower Margarine and Kara Coconut Milk - all available in decent UK supermarkets.

There are two things to note, if you decide to make these yourself: first, you need an awful lot of icing sugar (450g/1lb according to this recipe, although we had a bit left over) and dessicated coconut (two 200g bags this recipe says but we used only one - with plenty left to spare), and second, you really need two days to make Lamingtons. Once you've made the cake, it is then left for a day, before being iced (otherwise it's too soft).

I have to admit, this bit worried me slightly, as Baby tends to like things to happen immediately, so I had to make sure that I explained this to her first. This is because now that 'Baby' is really a full-blown toddler, baking with her is not so simple as it used to be! 'I want to do it!' is a cry frequently heard in our house. Full tact and diplomacy are required, as are patience and a sense of humour (beginning to sound like the job description for a teacher here). 

All explained and ingredients prepared, out came her little pink spatula (blagged off the MIL, when we stayed at hers after Christmas), and off we set, on our Lamington adventure!!
Watch out! Baby at work!

The recipe itself, was fairly straightforward... to begin with. Despite the power tussles, all seemed to be going well, until we got to the actual baking part. Baby wandered off to watch the telly, leaving me to clear up the inevitable mess, left in her wake. I put the tray in the oven and started the washing up, only to discover some minutes later, that I had neglected to set my trusty timer. 

At this point I wanted to obey the slogan on my new cake tin, BUT I'm trying to be 'good' at the mo, so I resorted to watching the cake instead.

I watched the bake like a hawk, not daring to open the door until at least what I imagined must be twenty minutes later (I've heard you shouldn't open the door for at least the first fifteen to twenty minutes). But it took several stabs with the cake tester and several prods of the finger, until I dared to believe it was fully baked. Hence my poor cake looked a little worse for wear, once it finally DID come out of the oven!!

Oh dear! Far from perfect!
As you can see, it was also burnt, in places. I'm not dismayed by such things, oh no! I have shaved many a cake in the past, but I must admit, at this point I was glad I'd watched the Comic Relief Great British Bake Off, the other night, and witnessed one contestant shave the burnt bits off his cake quite successfully, with a fine grater (beats sawing at it with a bread knife, which can cause further damage).

Next day, we duly got prepared to ice the cake. This takes a little preparation. One tip I picked up from another recipe was to place some grease proof paper under a wire tray, to allow for drips! It was definitely worth doing!! As, preparation over, it all got a bit interesting (think fondant fancies, in the last season of the Great British Bake-Off)!! It's all rather messy (I'm still picking up stray bits of coconut from the floor), but Baby LOVED it!

Baby's job was to chuck the chunks of cake into the chocolate icing mix. Mine was to cover the cake in chocolate with a spatula, before fishing it out with a pair of chopsticks (you could use forks). 

You can tell when we've been at work!
At this point, it is advisable (in my humble opinion) to allow the chunk to drip for a few seconds, and place it on the wire tray for a bit, before transferring it to the bowl of coconut, otherwise you may see the coconut coating drip off with the excess chocolate icing. After it's beginning to set, just slightly, place it in the coconut and shower it a bit, with more, until it's coated a bit. Then it's ready to be rolled around, to finish off.

All done!
After you've placed them back on the tray, you leave them to set, which really didn't take that long. Well, Baby never waits for long anyway, so she ate this one just before it was really ready!
The taste test
Now, I am very well aware that our cakes look a little rough around the edges - far from the perfect-looking specimens on other people's recipe pages, but in my defense, I was baking with Baby! And surely, it's the taste test that counts!!

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  1. oo, they look delicious : ) very, very messy to make though! and waiting two days hmmmm, might be difficult in these parts!

    1. Yeah delicious and messy often seem to go together! It was tricky waiting for us too! :)