Over the last few years Victoria, BC has become exceptionally vegan- and veggie-friendly. More vegetarian restaurants have popped up all over the city, and 90% of bakeries now incorporate a couple of options for their vegan patrons. I think it’s brilliant. Not only do I get to enjoy food from a different diet, it also makes it easier for my vegetarian friends and I to dine out. Not to mention you feel stupidly healthy when you do eat at these places! (My favourites are Rebar and Pure Vanilla, in case you were curious.)
The biggest difference I noticed when I came to Australia was the lack of vegan and vegetarian options. It seems to be gaining momentum (see Au Lac Royal Vegetarian and Sweet Bones), but more often I see gluten-free alternatives on Australian menus. I don’t know whether there are more coeliacs here than in Victoria, but it seems like every bakery or restaurant I’ve visited has at least one or two gluten-free options. This is great if you do have a gluten allergy, and it also provides alternatives for people on low-carb diets. Either way, I’m gonna eat that cake!
In honour of Australia Day next week (25 January), I made the most Australian of all Australian desserts: the lamington. Basically, it’s a little sponge cake, dipped in chocolate, and then rolled in coconut. Sound good? I thought so.
But wait, I’m not done yet!
Since lamingtons have the tendency to be quite dry, I’ve saturated them in a lime cordial syrup. Lime, chocolate, and coconut. A winning combination if I’ve ever seen one! I’m sorry if I just murdered all my Australian readers with my rendition, but trust me, eat just one and tell me you don’t love them.
I’ve also made this version gluten-free by using coconut flour in place of wheat flour. On that note, because coconut flour requires so much moisture to obtain an even bake, these cakes do have the tendency to crumble a bit. When dipping them in the chocolate icing, I suggest carefully plunking them into the bowl with one fork underneath, quickly basting the cake with the other fork, and then gently raising the cake to allow excess chocolate to drip off. You will lose a little bit of cake in the chocolate. It’s just something that will happen. Do not fear though! The amount that drips off with the chocolate (if you work quickly) is so small, that no one will notice once you cover it all with coconut.
I hope you enjoy my citrusy spin on these decadent, moist little cakes. Happy Australia Day!
Lime Cordial Lamingtons (Gluten-free)
LIME CORDIAL SYRUP
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp + 2 tsp brown sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 tsp coconut extract
- zest and juice of 1 lime
- 1/4 cup (56 g) unsalted butter, melted
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 1/4 cup almond milk (cow’s milk also works)
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 1/3 + 2 tbsp boiling water
- 1 bowl of desiccated coconut, for dunking
MAKE THE SYRUP:
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, brown sugar, and water and bring to a boil. As soon as it begins to boil, turn down the heat to a simmer. Add in the coconut extract and the lime zest and juice. Stir until combined and continue to simmer until all the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
MAKE THE SPONGE:
Preheat your oven to 180 C (350 F) and grease and line an 8×8 tin with baking paper.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the melted butter and sugar together until a thick paste forms. It will be grainy.
In a smaller bowl, beat the eggs and then add them to the butter and sugar mixture. Stir to combine. Mix in the yogurt, vanilla, and baking soda until the batter reaches a smooth consistency and all the sugar lumps are gone.
Stir in the coconut flour a little at a time and then allow to sit for 2 minutes. When the batter has thickened, slowly whisk in the milk. The batter will remain quite thick, but that’s okay. We need the cakes to be quite dense for dipping.
Scoop the batter into the baking tin and smooth it out to reach all the corners. It is important to make sure the batter is quite level or the sides will rise a lot higher than the middle and they may burn.
Bake the sponge for 22 – 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean and the top is beautifully golden. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove to a cutting board (on the paper) until fully cooled.
ICING THE CAKES:
Prepare a cooling rack with either parchment paper or a cookie sheet placed underneath to catch chocolate drippings.
When the cake and syrup are cool, take a serrated knife and cut off the edges of the cake, 1/4 – 1/2 inch strips. Cut the remaining cake into 16 equal squares. Set aside 8 squares.
On each of the remaining 8 squares, drizzle 2 – 3 tablespoons of the lime syrup. You will have some syrup left over. Place each of the reserved 8 squares on top of the saturated squares to make 8 double-stacked cakes. Set aside.
While the cakes soak up the syrup, make the icing: In a medium-sized bowl, combine the icing sugar and cocoa powder. Stir in the coconut oil and the boiling water and whisk until smooth and quite runny.
Dunk a cake into the chocolate icing, making sure to coat each side. Allow the excess icing to drip off and then roll the cake in the bowl of desiccated coconut, covering every side. Place each cake carefully on the cooling rack and repeat with the remaining cakes. Either let the lamingtons harden at room temperature or place in the refrigerator for 15 – 20 minutes.
If desired, top with lime zest before serving.
I hope I haven’t offended too many people with my twist on the Australian lamington! If you’re from Australia, do you prefer the traditional variety of lamington or have you had another flavour you’ve enjoyed more? To my readers from other countries, does your country have a national treat? I’d say Canada’s is probably the Nanaimo bar. Or possibly the Timbit!