With Australia Day approaching I was on the hunt for a cake I could bake that is quintessentially Australian, something synonymous with and easily recognisable as an "Australian Classic". Of course the Lamington was the first thing that sprang to my mind, but I wanted to create something on a much grander scale than the humble lamington, I wanted a show stopping dessert that would deserve the attention. Well this cake surely hit that note...
As I created this leaning tower I realised the 'golden rules' of cake, and especially lamington, making that I'd completely ignored had came to bite me. My soft, tender, freshly baked butter cake was collapsing on it self faster than I could photograph it. The more I moved it, the worse the situation became. I tried refrigerating for increasingly longer periods of time, but every time I removed the cake from the fridge the same thing kept happening, the cake kept collapsing. Until I had to admit defeat. THIS cake was not going to cooperate and I wanted to eat it more than I wanted the perfect photo. Cake went in the fridge and this is the best photo I got!
Cake 1, Maggie 0
That being besides the point, this cake is actually really delicious. I've been researching and recipe testing all sorts of butter cake recipes recently, trying to find something that bakes beautifully as either a cake or cupcakes, is sturdy enough to withhold icing of all sorts (ganache, buttercream, fresh cream) but has a soft, tender crumb and delicious buttery vanilla flavour. I do think I've found a great recipe here, but if you do go to make this cake please keep in mind one of the golden rules of cake decorating and lamington making. Once your cake is completely cool, wrap securely in cling film and leave to rest over night. The cake will be MUCH easier to work with once it's had time to rest.
Butter Cake Recipe
320g self raising flour
35g corn flour or potato flour
300g castor sugar
200g very soft, unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
170g whole eggs, whisked gently
265g full fat milk at room temperature or heated gently to about 25 degrees.
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
This recipe can be made using either a hand held or stand mixer.
Preheat oven to 150C and line 2 x 6 inch cake pans with baking paper on the bottom of the pan, grease and flour the sides of the tins.
It's really important to begin the recipe with all ingredients at room temperature. The butter should be very soft, eggs at room temperature and milk heated in the microwave to about 25 degrees or so that there is no chill. Cold ingredients will not combine together completely and may cause the batter to split.
Sieve together the flours into a large mixing bowl and add salt. Add the sugar all at once and mix to combine evenly within the flour. Add the very soft butter and begin beating with either a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or hand held mixer at low speed to achieve a crumbly, sand consistency.
Add the eggs and half the milk to the flour, sugar and butter mixture and beat for about a minute to combine evenly into a thick batter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the remaining milk, beat for another minute until a smooth homogeneous cake batter is achieved.
Pour evenly into baking pans and bake for approximately 45 - 50 minutes or until the cakes bounce back when touched gently in the center, are starting to shrink away from the sides of the tin and a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Leave the cakes to cool in their tins for one hour.
Remove onto wire cooling racks and leave to cool completely.
If you're planning on making any type of layer cakes with this recipe, once the cakes are completely cool wrap tightly twice in cling wrap and leave either in a cool place or, on hot days, in the fridge overnight.
When you're ready to construct the most epic lamington cake, unwrap your cakes and remove the tops (these off cuts make delicious snacks). Slice each cake evenly into 2 layers.
You will also require:
1kg soft icing sugar mixture
1 cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoons very soft butter
1 teacup boiling water
1 packet desiccated coconut
Lots of patience and some gloves
500ml PURA thickened cream
2 tbs castor sugar Raspberry jam
Fresh seasonal berries
You'll need to set up a crumbing type station here. Sift the icing sugar mixture and cocoa powder into a large bowl, add the very soft butter and enough boiling water to create an icing with a very loose, soupy consistency. Thick icing will gloop unevenly onto your cakes, so it's important that your icing is thin enough to coat your cake without soaking in completely. I used approximately 150ml of boiling water, give or take. Pour out the desiccated coconut in a shallow baking dish with plenty of space to coat your cake layers.
Apply gloves. This is going to get messy.
Once everything is in place, begin the crumbing process. Gently dip and coat each layer of cake in the chocolate icing mixture, flipping gently to coat both sides. Transfer to the tray of coconut and cover completely, patting the coconut generously onto each layer and around the outer edges. I popped my cake layers individually on baking paper once each layer was coated, let them set for 20 minutes or so then coated them again in the coconut to make sure they were generously coated.
Whip the PURA cream until it is really firm and sweeten by adding 2 tablespoons of castor sugar if you like, otherwise the raspberry jam adds plenty of sweetness, so that's completely optional. Fill a large piping bag with some cream and a smaller piping bag with the jam. I find this method the cleanest and easiest way to fill cakes. Begin by placing your first layer of cake on a cake stand and fill with the freshly whipped cream right to the edges. Top with jam and sandwich with another lamington cake. Keep building your tower in this way until you have reached the very top.. Pipe more cream all over the top of the cake and smother with fresh seasonal berries, finish with a light dusting of icing sugar!
Enjoy your delicious cake!