Monday, July 4, 2011

This spinster makes good lamingtons

It's my birthday today: a good excuse to knock off a few recipes in order to feed the hungry workmates, even those undeserving individuals who choose to mock my approaching spinsterhood. Of course, being 31, single and childless does have its good points: for a start, you've got plenty of spare time for things like making lamingtons (p67).

As you know, I'd made my lamington sponge in advance and stuck it in the freezer. Yesterday afternoon, I took it out and allowed it to defrost slightly while I made the second item on my list: coffee cake (p46).

Coffee cake is made from a fairly standard recipe, the main difference being the addition of a little instant coffee (dissolved in boiling water) to the creamed butter and sugar. Other than that, it's pretty much the usual mix, divided into two sponge sandwich tins.

 While the coffee cake was in the oven, I mixed up the coating for the lamingtons, which is really just a runny chocolate icing. This done, I cut my sponge into 16 little squares and began dipping them in the icing mixture and rolling them in coconut.

Having the sponge partially frozen made a huge difference - the lamingtons held their shape better and were easier to handle. I found that it's important not to have too thick a coating on the lamington, or you get a sort of lumpy, oozy result. I actually found that carefully scraping off the excess icing before rolling the lamington in coconut achieved the best results.

Soon I had the lamingtons coated and looking pretty tasty. I set them aside while I got the coffee cake out of the oven and turned to the third recipe I wanted to make: toffee (p221). I had no particular reason for making this; I just decided to take advantage of an opportunity to knock off another sweet recipe.

Having learnt my lesson from last year's nut toffee (also made for a birthday morning tea shout) I used caster sugar instead of the plain white sugar indicated in the recipe. This, along with water, a little butter, and a dash of vinegar, I stirred over a low heat until the sugar had dissolved.

Using caster sugar got me over that particular hurdle fairly easily, the sugar dissolving in minutes. The  most trying part was waiting for the toffee to boil to the 'hard crack' stage, a process which took about half an hour. I might have been able to do it faster, but I wasn't sure how high I ought to turn up the heat, and so left it reasonably low.

Finally I was satisfied that my toffee had reached 'hard crack' and I poured it into a tin to set. I tried to mark squares in the toffee, but they kept oozing back. I had to wait until the toffee was half-set before I could get the lines to stay properly. Once it had set hard, I attempted to break the toffee along my carefully-inscribed lines but (predictably) it shattered in all directions, spreading spiky little shards of toffee all over myself and my kitchen.

Next, I had to ice the coffee cake. Coffee icing (p77) is a variation on the plain white icing - again, instant coffee dissolved in water is added to create the coffee flavour. For once, I managed to get the icing to a suitable consistency, and it spread quite nicely on the cake. The icing is used both on the top of the cake and to sandwich the two halves together. I prettied it up a little with some chopped walnuts, and the cake was done.

The last thing I did before going to bed last night was to prepare the cream chantilly (p76) for the lamingtons. cream chantilly is a recipe I've had half a dozen opportunities to use and have always forgotten. It's just whipped cream with icing sugar and vanilla essence. Most people add one or the other of these to their cream; this uses both. Also, the sugar and essence are added to the cream after it's whipped - I would have put it in beforehand.

This morning, I dragged myself out of bed a bit earlier than usual, allowing enough time to cream the lamingtons before work. I cut each lamington almost in half, then spread each with a little of my homemade raspberry jam before piping in the cream. Unfortunately, the cream had gone a bit runny overnight - I should have whisked it up again before putting it in the piping bag - and didn't hold its piped shape very well.

But a little underwhipped cream isn't going to put a lamington fan off: they were the most popular item come morning-tea time, and deservingly so, because they were really good! I was quite proud of them, particularly since I'd finally made a decent sponge. I was surprised at how much flavour was in the cream chantilly: somehow it seemed far richer than my usual cream with icing-sugar. I might make a habit of adding vanilla as well.

The coffee cake also had its enthusiasts, though I would personally prefer a cream filling rather than more of that slightly sickly icing. The cake itself tasted quite nice, but wasn't as light and fluffy as I would have liked. On the whole, though, it was tasty enough.

 To my surprise, everyone loved the toffee. I'd only made it as an extra (I even find I've forgotten to take a photo of the final result), and expected that there would be far more than necessary, but the bowl was empty by the end of the day. Clearly I did something right there!

So here I am, another year older, not noticeably wiser but considerably more practised in the kitchen - I'm not claiming great expertise of course, but at least I can make a decent lamington!

1 comment:

  1. Well lamingtons are a useful plate to take places everyone loves them esp homemade ones.Sounds like a successful shout.c


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