First of all, Happy Australia Day everyone (or Happy Hottest 100 day as we like to say). Also, Happy Birthday to my BIL. Mr P @ Delicious Delicious Delicious has asked us to reinvent the lamington. I'm not sure that a Welshman has the right to do such a thing, but any excuse for cooking and blog event, hey? He's done a quite awe inspiring 10 day series on the subject though, including Cherry Ripe and Pina Colada flavours. Aussies, we need to lift our game!
I was iffy to start with. I'm not much of a lamington fan myself, although I'll buy store made ones whenever they are marked down, because DP loves them. Desiccated coconut isn't really my thing. Especially not to cook with, as it gets extremely messy.
But as I was looking at the post, I saw a link in his sidebar for his Rocky Horror Cupcakes. That I had to see. Turns out he got the idea from Aleta @ Onomicon with her diet version of a rainbow cake. She, in turn, got the idea from Something Awful's Goons with Spoons thread on making rainbow cakes. Warning: after nineteen pages of photos of rainbow cakes, it is nigh impossible not to make one yourself.
I lost 5 hours of my life to that thread. I knew I had to make one, but when? Everyone in the thread makes much ado about the frosting being dull and boring, so it's a good contrast to the rainbow inside. And I thought, what better way to hide rainbow than with chocolate icing, and possible coconut. Rainbow lamingtons! It had to be done.
Now, I don't have the patience to make small rainbow squares, or cupcakes, so I made just one giant lamington, out of two cakes, layered together with Yellow Jam of Awesomeness. Also known as Mango, Passionfruit & Pineapple conserve. Everyone knows the best lamingtons have a thin layer of red (not strawberry or raspberry, just, red) jam in the centre, but no cream.
Did I mention this was a messy cake to make?
It is relatively easy to do though. Start with a regular cake batter. We used an el cheapo vanilla cake mix, but you could use a from scratch recipe, in any flavour really. You could even use chocolate cake, ala red velvet, but the colours won't be as bright.
Obligatory rainbow dishes photo
Split the batter into six bowls. The first colour (in our case red) needs to have more batter than the rest, to allow for the crust. I had 3 spoons of red batter, two each for orange, yellow, green and blue, and only one and a half for the purple.
The kids loved helping with this cake. Miss Four in particular liked mixing in the food dye once I'd dripped it in.
Once you have your batter, add food colouring. I wanted to use Wilton gel dyes, like all the Americans, but I couldn't find them, so I used a heap of plain ol' liquid dye instead. I used about 1 1/2 teaspoons of red dye, and then between 10 and 15 drops for the other colours.
Master One wanted to play with the food dye too!
(You can't tell, but he's actually lying completely on the table)
All it takes to make the cake is a careful eye, and steady hand. Pour the red batter into the very center of a greased cake pan. (Baking paper in the bottom helps with the cake not cracking when you remove it.) Then pour the orange batter into the same spot, which is now the center of the red. Then again with the yellow, and green, etc. It ends up looking like this.
Cook as directed in the recipe. Make sure you use the lower temp if you have a fan forced oven.
Finished batter - pre bake
It really does affect how the cake cooks. If you know your oven, then you'll not need me to tell you that.
I didn't - oops!
Allow to cool, on an out of reach cake rack.
Second cake cooked better
To make this into a lamington, I leveled down the first cake.
Why you don't leave the cake rack in reach of an 18 month old
I then used the leveled piece to fix the hole, patched with a little help from Betty Crocker and her creamy chocolate frosting. I then thinned down the remaining frosting with some chocolate topping (Cottees, what else?). A traditional lamington is dipped in a rather bland mix of cocoa, icing sugar and water. Icing is much nicer. Somewhat easier to put on a slightly fragile cake too, because these aren't nice small handheld squares.
Leveled piece - does not show how bright this was!
Pat, sprinkle, poke, cajole and smoosh the coconut onto the icing. Take a break to coat the top of the cake in a decently thick layer of jam. Then put the top cake on, and ice, before going through the hellish saga of the coconut again. Still, when all was said and done, it looked pretty good.
And then I took it to my BIL's annual birthday/Australia Day party, and it went down a treat. You should have heard the cry when everyone saw the first piece, and all the kids just had to have a slice. Many comments were made about how bright it was, so remember not to stint on the food dye!
I wasn't the only person who brought lamingtons either, my sister made green and gold Australia shaped ones.
Hers were glittery