(In which Mr. P expresses regret for the lamingtons that never were.)
I had this idea, way back at the start of the original Re-Inventing the Lamington in 2010, of making lamingtons out of rainbow cake, using the recipe for my Rocky Horror Cupcakes as the base. They were going to be Sydney Pride Lamingtons (for the gays!), and I was going to tell you all in the post about how Sydney's famous Mardi Gras ruined my life in 2008 when I was travelling back (or trying to) on standby from Singapore at the time it was going on. We (me and him indoors) had been in Malaysia, but hadn't even considered what was happening Down Under and its effect on our plans. Why would we? We were strictly Equatorial, nothing Southern Hem. about us.
Rule #1 of standby travel: consider if your destination is a connections hub. It effectively doubles the number of passengers flying there, and halves the number of available seats.
I wasn't flying with my own airline so my priority was pretty much non-existent. And do you know how many airline emplyees were flying in and out of Australia for that damned Mardi Gras? GABILLIONS!
You know, Singapore is lovely, but being stuck there at the airport watching hung over revellers who haven't even been there for longer than a few hours getting on planes ahead of you even though you were there first is not. Especially when you have to get back for a flight duty.
Needless to say, we made it, at great personal expense. But the memory is a bitter one. And I never got round to making the lamingtons that the story inspired, so it has until now gone unshared.
But, I still liked the idea of a party lamington and decided to get hold of some Pilsbury Funfetti Cake mix as an easy alternative to the food colouring nightmare that is the RHC. Easy but expensive. Do you know what it costs to buy that stuff in the UK? It was out of the question. I decided to appropriate my own version using Victoria sandwich batter and my beloved sanding sugars in blue and purple. Well, I do love a challenge.
While the cake was baking, I watched a program about the Great Barrier Reef and, well, shave my legs and call me Grandpa if it didn't feature that crazy old hunk of corals glowing purple, blue and green under UV lights at night. This in itself didn't excite me (though it was pretty), but it did make me think it would be appropriately Australian to change things up and make a Great Barrier Reef Lamington out of my baking cakes instead of the Sydney Pride version.
Well, reader, I'm pro change. I envisaged cubes of purple, blue and green flecked cake, coated with ganache and blue sanding sugar (to represent the ocean) - the Smurfs of the lamington world. I thought how fun it would be to accessorise the pictures I would take with plastic fish and coral. (Well, fun of sorts.)
But upon slicing the cakes, I realised, to my great dismay, that it was not to be. The sanding sugars had, well, sort of 'baked out'. The colours were muted. I won't lie: I was momentarily devastated. I think making all these lamingtons in such a short space of time had gotten to me to be honest. The clean up takes so long; it gets me down. Add that to unexpected colour loss, and the tears were ready to fall.
But am I not pro change? Am I not made of sterner stuff? I decided to just get on with it, and turned these into my failed-but-still-enjoyed lamingtons. The fact is, the cake part is butter cake. It looks a little funky with it's oddly dispersed waves of colour, but it tastes delicious. Lamington disasters do occur. Remember Mathea's house fire? I guess I should feel glad that my disaster is only botched cake.
Funfetti Failure Lamingtons
You will need:
175g plain flour
175g soft butter
175g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp milk
1 tbsp of sanding sugar in each of your three chosen colours
400g dark chocolate
200g crème fraïche (or sour cream) at room temperature
200g dessicated coconut (I like to use really finely chopped stuff)
- First, make the butter cake. Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin, and pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
- In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the flour, sugar, butter, eggs, milk, baking powder and vanilla together until you have a smooth batter. Scrape this into the prepared cake tin and level out. Do this in three batches, sprinkling a little of the sanding sugars in each colour over the top after each layer. Bake for 25 minutes or until the cake tests done. That means that when you stick a cocktail stick (or a piece of spaghetti!) into the centre of the cake, it will come out clean, without any uncooked batter clinging to it.
- Cool the cake in the tin on a wire rack, and when completely cold, turn out and slice into 16 squares.
- Make the ganache: Melt the chocolate, cool slightly and mix together with the crème fraïche until you have a smooth icing. I always use crème fraïche for ganache now by the way; you can use it instantly, unlike double cream-based ganache which takes thirty seven years to cool and thicken.
- Make the lamingtons: working quickly, dip the cake cubes into the ganache coating evenly. Immediately roll them in the coconut and set on a sheet of greaseproof paper to dry.
- Or don't do any of this. These are failure lamingtons after all.