Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wombat Lamingtons

Something new on the menu for the kids this year is cooking once a week. Okay, wait a minute, let me back up. It's always been on the "menu" for the kids to help in the kitchen, and they do. I have a designated peeler and bean snapper and so on, but now that they are getting older they want to know how to do more and I'm all for it.

When I was growing up it was the responsibility of my siblings and I to each take 1 day a week to cook dinner. Now, I'm not going to say it didn't come with it's own set of disasters, but honestly the kitchen is still standing (last I heard) and my parents still cook in it (last I heard) so no lasting scars there, right? (Mom, you can stop laughing right now about the sloppy joe mishap.. and the fudge mishap.. and I promise not to tell you about the time I set the napkin on fire and then in my haste to put it out set the other end of it on fire and then in my haste to...)

For now Jayden's evening to cook is Wednesday, and I had him all prepped and ready heading into our week. He really needs to be very well prepared for any new hiccups, but the fact that he was making his beloved sausage rolls was all he needed to hear. I also had supplies for him to make lamingtons after spotting some adorable wombat style ones.

Thing is, I've only made 2 sponge cakes in my entire life and I have to be honest and say they weren't that great. I think it was the sweetener I used in them because the people who shared them said they were great recipes. You need a sponge cake if you're making lamingtons and we don't have the ability to nip to the store and pick one up, unless you wanna see some crazy mean ninja skills from a 7 year old. Funny thing is,  had a recipe in my beloved Rodale Cookbook and we decided to try it out. It was a simple recipe, but time consuming.
He is smiling.. that's the scary part!
With our recipe you beat the egg yolks for 5 minutes, add honey and beat for an additional 15 minutes. Then you beat egg whites and salt for a few seconds, and then add in honey and beat until nice and shiny and stiff. The hardest part was the 15 minute mix! I know that sounds silly but we don't have a fancy stand mixer and the one we do own is on it's last legs. You have to physically hold it down on the counter or it will fly off. Really, but I'd prefer you don't ask me how I know this stuff. Once we had the sponge tucked in the oven all was well and it came out quite nice too!

Once you've got your sponge baked you cut it into squares. We didn't do the exact measurement thing because frankly if it's coated in chocolate in this house someone is bound to eat it. Mr. S once convinced the kids that Vegemite was Chocolate, they gag everytime they see the stuff now! I know, shameful little Aussies, but give them a jar of peanut butter... Anyway, back to our lamingtons. Cut the sponge, ours aren't as puffy as a normal sponge because my recipe told me to divide it amongst three 8-inch round pans. I opted for square, but remembered I left one of mine at my sister-in-laws place so I used one long pan and one square pan. Next time, for lamingtons, I'll put it all in one pan.

Make up your icing. I cheated here and used leftover icing from our pencil cake. It works, but it doesn't get as firm as normal lamington icing would. Normal lamington icing (or at least the recipe I use) is 325g of icing sugar (I use coconut sugar run through the blender to powder"ize" it mixed with 2 T of corn starch.. Icing sugar mixture here has cornstarch in it which helps it crust and firm up) .33 c cocoa powder .25 c milk & .25 c boiling water. Mix it all up until it's beautifully smooth. If you're letting a 7 year old do this, stand back because otherwise they will splatter you with icing and chances are if you have a 9 year old in the house you'll find him licking your arm in an attempt to get to the icing splatters. Yeah, I wasn't too impressed either...

Excuse the blurry photos. Somedays I wish I was a squid so I had more arms, but the reality is I only have two arms.. Drop a square of sponge in the icing and using a fork flip it over so all sides are covered. It's harder when you get that low on icing, but we just scoop it up and over the sponge with a spoon.

Plop your icing covered sponge on a place of desiccated coconut and shake or sprinkle coconut all over your sweet treat. If you have a 7 year old helping you with this project you might want to advise him not to lick the coconut and chocolate off his fingers before rolling his lamington over and repeating the process again and again and..

We put ours on a cooling tray and I slipped that on a cookie sheet to put them in the fridge to chill and set. We slipped slivered almonds in for ears and pressed a raisin on for noses, but only on a couple as my guys don't really care for almonds. That didn't actually prevent Mr S from digging in, Jayden however never ate one despite all his excitement over, "making lammies! AWESOME!" He hasn't had these treats since we pulled the sugar plug. However, he stuffed himself on his sausage rolls, maybe tomorrow..

Notes: The recipe for our sponge cake came from the Rodale Whole Foods Cookbook and is as follows:

6 eggs, seperated
1 T grated orange peel
1/2 c orange juice
1/2 c honey plus 2 tablespoons honey, warmed
1 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 t salt
1 t cream of tartar

Place the egg yolks in a bowl and beat for 5 minutes, or until pale and thick. Add orange peel and juice and peat for an additional5 minutes. Then 1/2 cup of honey slowly and beat for an additional 15 minutes.  Do not under beat, the lightness of this cake depends on it! Evenly sprinkle the flour over the egg yolk mixture and gently fold in; set aside.

Place the egg whites in a separate bowl with the salt and beat until foamy; add the cream of tarter and beat until soft peaks form. Add the remaining 2 T of honey slowly and beat until peaks are glossy and firm but not dry. Fold into the egg yolk mixture. Divide mixture between 3 ungreased 8-inch baking pans and bake at 325 (F) for 15-20 minutes or until cake is golden and slightly pulls away from the edge of the pan.

I didn't warm my honey because it was quite runny and this recipe worked fine. I think you could easily substitute lime or lemon for the orange! I didn't have whole wheat pastry flour so I used 3/4 c of whole wheat and the rest was organic unbleached white. I didn't grease my pans, but I did lay a sheet of baking paper in the base. I still think the sides should have been greased, BUT I had no issue getting the cakes out once I released the sides. See, my cake was done, but didn't pull away from the side of the pan until I loosened it.

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