A very happy Australia Day from Hong Kong! We are still battling sickness in our house, and right now I’ve reached my favourite time of day – the kids are watching a bit of TV, dinner is prepped, the house is tidy and I’m sitting down to my computer with a cup of tea. Bliss! 4pm-ish in our house is always the calm before the storm – you know, the dinner-bath-bed witching hour(s).
While I have been battling homesickness for a few weeks now it was particularly acute today, Australia Day. I agree with a lot of the sentiment I’ve read that we should really choose a better day to celebrate it (instead of the anniversary of European invasion/Indigenous displacement) but I still think it is a country worth celebrating. Australia offers a lifestyle that just isn’t possible anywhere else in the world – a progressive democracy, a first world nation that also has incredible weather and natural beauty. I think another thing that makes it truly unique is its relative youth combined with its multicultural population; there aren’t any archaic social conventions, any cultural rules to abide by. You just have to be laid back, mate.
Sure, it has its downfalls – I don’t think Australians are as tolerant of diversity as they should be. If you’re asked how you’re goin’ and the answer isn’t “good”, no one really wants to know about it. And there is a nasty undercurrent of drinking and violence that I notice more now that I’m living overseas. But I love, love, love Australia and many of its inhabitants!
To celebrate today I would have loved to be out having a beer at one of the many Aussie-run restaurants, but as I am instead at home being an earth mother (read: covered in spat out cough medicine) I thought we’d try to bake some Aussie lamingtons! If you’ve never tried lamingtons before, you are seriously missing out and should get on it ASAP. I would have loved to have made this recipe which I’ve made before and is amazing, but we were sadly out of eggs…which led to me making these egg-free allergy friendly lamingtons from Queen Bee Allergy Free.
I have to admit I thought this cake turned out a little weird at first, which was probably my own fault as I didn’t follow the recipe properly. I wouldn’t call myself a great baker but I have developed some skill at it over many years of practice, and one thing I’ve come to appreciate is the exact science of baking. There are certain elements you just can’t muck around with. Anyway, instead of keeping this recipe dairy-free I used whole milk and butter, which made the final product very buttery but still delicious! It has a lot of sugar too. But if you need an allergy friendly version then this will definitely do the trick – once iced and rolled in coconut the lamingtons were DELICIOUS and allowed me to have a little Australian moment on this cold Hong Kong day.
It was nice to get the kids involved in the kitchen too. My kids love to cook and “help” in general. As long as I take a deep breath and embrace the mess I usually enjoy it too!
Australia Day Lamingtons
240ml rice or soy milk (I used whole cows milk)
1 tbsp white or apple cider vinegar
150g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb soda
1/4 tsp salt
120g dairy-free margarine (Nuttelex) (I used butter but think this is where I went wrong)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups dessicated coconut
2 cups sifted icing sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup rice or soy milk
1/4 cup boiling water
Preheat oven to 180 C. Whisk milk and vinegar and set aside.
Sift flours and mix together. Cream margarine, sugar and vanilla until pale and fluffy. Add the milk and flours in alternate batches until combined well. Pour batter into greased and lined 20cm square cake pan for approx 25 mins (a lamington pan is too big for this mixture, and since it doesn’t rise too much, the square will condense it nicely).
Turn out and cool on wire rack. Cut into squares (makes about 16).
To make the icing, mix icing sugar, cocoa powder, milk and then add boiling water and mix well until combined. Set aside another bowl for the coconut.
Dip cake pieces into chocolate by using two forks, then roll in coconut before setting aside on wire rack to set.