Workshop Wednesday: Easy And Cheap Cake Recipe

1 December 2010

Lamington 1Suddenly you remember - tomorrow is the cake sale at school/party at Brownies/your turn to bring cakes for the PTA morning. Please allow me to introduce you to the Lamington. This cake is a staple of every cake sale/birthday party/gathering in New Zealand, Australia and, I'm told, South Africa.

I don't know why Lamington cakes aren't more popular in the UK. They're easy to make, and quick too. In brief, a Lamington is a small square of sponge cake (or butter or pound cake) dipped in a liquid chocolate icing and rolled in coconut. The end result is as pictured above. And even the more inexpert cook will be able to come up with something similar. My effort is below; it has been YEARS since I made any. But I think they still looked pretty good.

Lamington 2I took a shortcut. For my Lamingtons, I used three packets of Sainsbury's Basics Sponge mix (22p a packet; 66p in total). You'll also need three eggs (Iceland 12 for £1 = 8p each; 24p in total). By this stage I had spent 90p, overall I'd estimate it cost £1.50. Just follow the instructions on the packet. Use a timer - it is amazing how long 3 minutes actually is when you have to hold a heavy handheld mixer.

For baking, I used a large, crockery baking dish. Do use greaseproof paper to line the dish, even if you're using a non-stick tin. I have made that mistake before. If you butter the dish first, the paper will stick down to the shape of the tray and make it easier to pour the mix in.

Lamington 3One tip I came across while looking for Lamington recipes is to refrigerate the sponge for at least two hours, and up to 24 hours. You don't have to do this, but I did found the dipping process a lot easier after it had been in the fridge a few hours.

Once you've got your sponge, you need the icing to dip the cakes into. The Edmond's CookBook (bestseller in NZ since 1927) has this recipe:

  • 2 tablespoons of cocoa
  • 6 tablespoons of boiling water
  • 25g of butter, melted
  • 2 1/4 cups of icing sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla essence

But then I found that I had no butter! So I used this recipe on It worked just fine although without perhaps that rich gloss you get from the butter.

SV103904Cut your sponge into squares, about the size you'd consider a portion for one person. Dip the squares in the icing. Now for this, I used another tip I found while researching this post. I used two forks. One holding the sponge from underneath, and the other fork to hold the sponge in place. For the coconut I had two plates. One to put the cake on while I sprinkled generous handfuls of the coconut over it, turning the cake around with the forks.

And that's it. The dunking part takes a while, but otherwise it is pretty quick. My son had a great time with it as it doesn't matter if you drop the cake in the icing mixture. Just fish it out again. Nor does it matter if the sponge cake happens to come apart. You just have two slightly smaller cakes. Be warned though, this is hugely messy when little fingers are involved.

SV103906What is your favourite quick and easy cake recipe? I'd love to hear them, and we had great fun swapping ideas on the Pumpkin Recipes post written for Halloween! Although, I bet you can't get much quicker than the three-minute cake in a cup.  Check it out here. Perfect for those times when you just NEED cake but possibly not the sort of thing you can take to the cake sale...

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