Tomorrow is the last day of Taste of EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival. This year's version of the festival has been around since the park reopened mid-July, and I've got to hand it to everyone involved; they did a great job. New booths were introduced as the festival continued, keeping things fresh and giving us the chance to try new food items, and, thanks to COVID and guests needing to be stationary while eating in the park, we received something that we've needed during festivals for years: the addition of chairs and tables scattered throughout the park.
Speaking of new things, I tried a couple of new-to-me dishes during this year's festival. Of course, I gravitated to my favorites, such as Brazil's Pao de Quiejo, but I also added in a couple that I'll be looking forward to during festivals to come, like Spain's Paella with Chorizo, Shrimp, and Rice and Apple Fritter Donut Holes with Salted Maple Drizzle from The Donut Box.
This weekend's Saturday Snacks recipe, Lamington, has been served over the years at the Australia booth, but it was never something that I stopped and tried. Perhaps it's because it sounds like it has lamb in it (yes, I know that's silly and there's a spelling difference, but...) or the fact that I didn't know what in the world it really was, but it was just something that held no appeal. That is, it had no appeal until I was sifting through the recipes contained in EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival: Recipes & Stories Celebrating 20 Years and came across the picture of the Lamington cakes and saw that Lamington looks like chocolate and coconut heaven. So, in the vein of trying new things, especially potentially decadent desserts, let's give it a whirl today!
In case you, like me, are new to the Lamington game, let me bring you up to speed: picture a delicious, buttery cake soaked in sweet, chocolatey icing, and then rolled in dried coconut. Yep, it's goooood. And, as a side note, it's even better the next day. I just had one for lunch, so I speak from experience. Ahem.
Lamington, according to the cookbook, is known as the unofficial cake of Australia (although I need to fact check that with Zoë Wood), and, if it is indeed the unofficial cake of an entire nation, I can see why. The small size of Lamington cakes is deceiving; they pack a lot of sweet punch into those little squares. And it's a dessert that needs to be made in stages, and can hang out in the fridge until you're ready to enjoy them. Cake on demand? Yes, please!
In the ingredient category, Lamingtons are pretty easy to get along with. The only item that I didn't have on-hand was the unsweetened, shredded coconut. Be sure to grab the correct coconut: the recipe calls for the unsweetened variety, and while I'm always down for more sugar, this recipe is already sweet. Stick with the unsweetened coconut if you can find it.
To begin, we need to coat an 8-inch square pan or dish with spray oil and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Also, go ahead and take a stick of butter out of the fridge to allow it to come up to room temp. You'll need it in just a bit.
Our first step in the recipe is to create the sponge cake. Once it's baked, our lovely yellow sponge cake will act like, well, a sponge and soak up all of the sweet chocolate icing that we roll it in. It's going to be a glorious thing. Trust me.
Go ahead and grab a medium bowl out of the cabinet and toss in 2 cups of all-purpose flour.
Two teaspoons of baking powder and ¼ teaspoon of sea salt get added into the bowl.
If you have a sifter on-hand, run everything through that. If not, a swift whisking of the dry ingredients will do. Side note: I don't know about you, but my whisk is one of my most-used kitchen tools. I'm always grabbing for it, and it's the perfect tool for the job nine times out of ten. I was given this whisk by a close family friend for my bridal shower just over 27 years ago. I don't know how much it cost, but whatever our sweet friend paid, she got her money's worth. And then some.
Into the bowl of a stand mixer (or you can use a large bowl and a hand mixer), drop your stick of room temperature butter and ¾ cup of granulated sugar.
You'll want to cream the sugar and butter on high speed until they take on a lighter color and fluffier texture. The process will take a few minutes, but have faith; it'll get there.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to make sure that everything gets fully combined.
Add one teaspoon of vanilla extract and combine. At this point, the recipe calls for us to turn off the mixer, which makes me giggle just a bit. Just in case you were tempted to keep the mixer running, you and I both now know it's officially time to turn it off. But seriously, I know that the chefs are simply giving us a heads up that we'll be leaving the mixer behind for the rest of the recipe.
It's now time to add in the dry ingredients, and, as the "turn off mixer" foreshadowing foretold, we'll be adding them by hand with a spatula. Go ahead and place half of the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and combine.
After the first half of the dry ingredients have been added, you can pour in the ½ cup of milk.
Top the milk off with the remaining flour mixture, and stir to completely incorporate everything.
Once everything is combined, it's time to scoop the batter into the pan that you greased earlier. Be patient; it takes a little bit of finessing to get the batter spread out evenly. Talk to it nicely. It helps.
Once the batter is evenly covering the pan, you can wish it Godspeed and pop it in the oven. We can take the cake out of the oven after 25 to 30 minutes. Well, after 25 to 30 minutes in the oven and a clean (and dry!) toothpick. My first go-round with constructing the sponge cake had me pulling the cake out of the oven before the center of the cake was fully set. And I didn't realize it until after the 2 hours of letting it cool. Augh.
My second shot at making the cake was a bit more successful at getting that center to set, but I had to keep it in the oven for a few extra minutes, and even then, it wasn't totally set. I just tossed out those middle pieces, and it turns out that the cake that was left was more than enough to enjoy. This is the weekend; we don't stress over such things, right? Right.
Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes.
After resting in the pan on the rack, you'll want to run a knife or offset spatula along the sides of the pan, helping to seperate any spots that didn't quite get covered in spray oil.
Now turn your cake pan over and allow the cake to release onto the rack. Set a timer for 2 hours, and walk away. Well, stop and smell that buttery, divine-smelling cake first and then walk away. Your cake needs some alone time. At least two whole hours of it. Patience, my friends.
I set a timer for 2 hours, and came back into the kitchen to discover that, when I turned the cake back over, the center had not fully set. At this point, we're asked to cut the cake into 16 pieces.
The undercooked pieces got tossed, and I continued on with the rest. Place your cake pieces into an airtight container and give them at least 2 hours (or overnight) to hang out in the fridge. Since it was evening by the time I got to this step, I opted to leave mine to chill overnight.
Once your cake pieces have hung out in the fridge, it's time to toss a few ingredients into a double boiler. Remember that if you don't own a double boiler, a pot half-filled with water and a glass bowl will do the trick. Bring the water to a simmering boil, and you've got a double boiler.
Into the double boiler bowl, toss in 3 cups of powdered sugar, ½ cup of cocoa powder, 4 ½ tablespoons of butter, and ¾ cup of milk.
As the water simmers below, whisk the ingredients until the butter completely melts. As you whisk and that magical butter melts, the mixture will turn into a thin chocolate icing. When it gets to the point where it drips off of your whisk, you can set it aside. Find a warm spot on your stovetop for the bowl since you're about to coat your cake pieces with it. Yummmm.
Grab a pie pan or wide, shallow dish, and pour out the shredded coconut. While the recipe calls for 4 cups of the coconut, I came nowhere near using that much. I used right around 2 cups.
Take your cake pieces and dip them one at a time into the chocolate icing, coating them on all sides.
Then take each chocolate-coated little cake and roll it in the shredded, unsweetened coconut. By this time, your inner voice should be telling you that this is gonna be good. Listen to that voice. It will be. Yes, it will be.
Allow the icing on the cakes to set on a rack, and be sure to place a sheet pf wax paper underneath that rack. Those little cakes drip while they're setting up, and without that wax paper, you'll be cleaning up chocolate drips for the next hour.
Let the cakes get as set as you'd like (yes, patience is a virtue but it's also 2020 so we'll eat the little chocolate cakes whenever we please, thank you), and savor every bite.
I would like to officially thank the country of Australia for these amazing little cakes. Actually, after a little research, it seems that some consider Lamington to have been created in New Zealand under a different name, but we won't quibble; we'll simply gobble up the buttery, chocolatey, coconutty (it's now a word) treats and give thanks.
The Lamington's sponge cake allows the chocolate icing to soak in ever so slightly, making the buttery taste of the cake meld with the sweetness of the icing. And the coconut on the outside adds the cherry on top.
And, as I mentioned earlier, Lamington cakes the next day are simply delicious. Try them with a cup of tea or mug filled with coffee, and you're winning the weekend.
I hope that your weekend is filled with moments of joy and wonder. And chocolate. 🙂
ps. I would be remiss if I didn't mention that today is National Gingerbread Day. If you'd like to watch me try to construct a gingerbread Contemporary Resort, the video is below. If you'd like to try a hand at the Grand Floridian's gingerbread cookies that we made for Saturday Snacks a couple of weeks ago, click here.
Ready to make EPCOT's Lamington? You can do it! The recipe is below:
Makes 16 small cakes
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup milk
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- 4 ½ tablespoons butter
- ¾ cup milk
4 cups unsweetened, shredded coconut
- Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease an 8-inch-square cake pan.
- Sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- Cream butter and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each egg. Mix in vanilla. Turn off mixer.
- Add half of flour mixture with a spatula. Add milk, followed by remaining flour mixture. Stir well to combine.
- Spread batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.
- Run a knife or offset spatula along sides of cake pan, then flip onto wire rack to remove cake. Allow to cool at least 2 hours.
- Cut into 16 squares and place in an airtight container; refreidgerate for at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.
For chocolate icing:
- Combine ingredients in a double boiler or a heat-proof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water.
- Whisk until butter melts and mixture is smooth and dipping consistency, about 5 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.
To assemble and serve:
- Place coconut in a large bowl or pie pan.
- Place wire rack over wax paper.
- Dip 1 square of cake in icing, making sure to coat on all sides.
- Roll coated cake in shredded coconut. Place on rack and repeat with remaining squares.