Wednesday, February 27, 2008

ceci n'est pas un lamington

Despite all appearances to the contrary, this is not a giant version of one of those chocolate-dipped, shredded-coconut-covered squares of stale sponge cake that are sold at fundraisers in Australia.*

No, this is just what happens when I bake a somewhat improvised cake for another mad hippie engineer's birthday. The cake was somewhat improvised because Dan is a vegan.

If you've been following my dessert recipes, you'll notice that they favor large quantities of eggs, butter, and cream. Ask me for a vegan dessert, and I'll probably point you in the direction of baked apples, or sweetened silken tofu. Unfortunately, neither baked apples nor silken tofu are particularly well-suited to being stuck with birthday candles, so I headed Google-wards in search of a cake recipe.

I found a suitable recipe for a dark cocoa cake with raspberry-chocolate glaze. All went swimmingly until I went to make the glaze and discovered that a) we had no raspberry jam, and b) there were only milk chocolate chips in the pantry.

Cue the improvisation. I glazed the cake with plain strawberry jam, but the result looked unfinished. It needed something else, hence the shredded coconut. And thus the giant non-lamington was born.

Aesthetic concerns aside, the strawberry jam and the shredded coconut worked quite well. The fruitiness of the jam and the fragrance of the coconut contrasted nicely with the tangy, almost buttermilk-like flavor of the cake itself. I wouldn't choose it over murderous chocolate torte, but it beats a lamington, hands down.

Vegan Cocoa-Coconut Cake
(Giant Non-Lamington Cake)

Based on the "Deep Chocolate Vegan Cake" in Moosewood Restaurant New Classics. The original recipe gave quantities for a single-layer cake. The photo above shows two single-layer cakes sandwiched together with jam glaze.

(Serves a crowd of mad hippie engineers)

For a single cake layer:
1 1/2 cups white flour
1/3 cup bitter cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup soymilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cider vinegar

For glaze:
1/3 cup strawberry jam
1 tablespoon water

To finish:
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350F. Should you wish to avoid the lamington resemblance, grease an 8-inch round cake pan. Should you want the resemblance (or not care, or not have any other cake pans on hand), grease an 8-inch square pan.

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Mix all the wet ingredients except the cider vinegar together in a measuring jug, and add them to the dry ingredients. Stir until the batter is smooth and well-incorporated.

Add the vinegar, and stir it into the batter. Pour the batter into the cake pan and smooth it out. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a knife stuck in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven; allow to cool.

To glaze and finish the cake, combine the jam and water in a small saucepan and heat until it turns liquid. Brush the top and sides of the cake with the liquid jam, then take the shredded coconut and spread/scatter it on. Dust off the excess. Serve.

*Such fundraisers are called "lamington drives," and they are very (some would say inexplicably) popular. Ironically, Lord Lamington despised lamingtons, referring to them on at least one occasion as "those bloody poofy woolly biscuits."


Ann said...

I like Lamington! Am I weird?

adele said...

I might think you're a little odd, but you have plenty of company. :P

Lamingtons, in my experience, tend to be very, very dry. And this flaw cannot be remedied with dunking in tea, because they lack structural integrity and shed crumbs and coconut flakes into the teacup.