Learn English while learning about daily life in Australia, with Rob McCormack
Podcast Number 82 – The Lamington
I have been asked on a few occasions to give examples of typical Australian food. I must admit that I have a hard time making a list. Being a nation of immigrants means we eat just about everything here in Australia. It’s all Australian food as far as I am concerned. Food from Europe, Asia, India, Britain, America, Africa – you can find it all in Australia. Just go down the street and you’re bound to find a restaurant somewhere which is selling that food. However, there are a small number of foods which might be regarded as typically Australian. I have talked about meat pies and vegemite in 2 previous podcasts. In this podcast, I would like to talk about a cake that was invented in Australia. That cake is called the lamington.
The lamington is nothing flash. It is just a cube of sponge cake which has been dipped in chocolate sauce then rolled in desiccated coconut. Sounds simple and they are easy to make. When made well, they are delicious. Growing up, I can remember my mother making lamingtons and what a joyful memory that is. But lamingtons are much more than a memory because you can buy them in any good Australian café or bakery shop or even the supermarket. I still enjoy a lamington today. My favourite place to buy them is at a large bakery in a small town called Healesville, just outside Melbourne. This particular bakery is one of my favourite destinations when going for a motorcycle ride. It’s about 40 kilometres from my house but I know a much longer way to get there which takes me on some good roads with lots of corners – just perfect for a motorcycle ride when you have a spare couple of hours. What better way to take a break after an enjoyable ride than with a coffee and a lamington?
Lamingtons were first created in Queensland, in the late 1890s. The Governor of Queensland at that time was Lord Lamington and it is believed the cake is named after him. There are a number of different stories as to who actually invented the recipe. Of all the ones I’ve read, I think the most likely is that it was created by the chef who worked for Lord Lamington. The story goes that he was asked to prepare a treat, at short notice, for some unexpected guests. He used ingredients which he had available – sponge cake, chocolate and desiccated coconut, which is white coconut flesh grated into fine flakes. The guests liked the new creation and apparently they asked for the recipe. The wife of the Governor, Lady Lamington, talks about this in her memoirs, so I guess that settles the issue.
It’s easy to make lamingtons. Maybe you would like to try it. Here’s a recipe which you can follow.
First you need some sponge cake. In Australia you can buy sponge cake ready made in the supermarket. If that is not an option for you, then you will need to make your own sponge cake. I’ve never made it, but I am told that it is not too hard. There are plenty of recipes on the internet. I’m not much of a cook I’m afraid, so I would definitely buy a ready-made sponge cake first. Once you have the sponge cake, you cut it into cubes about 6cm wide.
Next you need the chocolate sauce. To make that you need 480g of icing sugar, 75g of cocoa powder, 80ml of boiling water and 75g of melted butter. Mix the icing sugar and the cocoa powder together in a bowl. Now pour in the boiling water and the melted butter. Mix it around with a spoon and there you have your chocolate sauce.
The last ingredient for the lamingtons is of course the desiccated coconut which you can buy in a packet at the supermarket.
In order to make the lamingtons you need to pour the chocolate sauce into an open bowl, so that you can dip the cubes of sponge cake in, one side at a time. Now pour some coconut flakes onto a flat plate or a saucer, so that you can roll the dipped pieces of cake around in the flakes.
Now comes the part where you actually make the lamingtons. Some recipes tell you to use two forks to pick up each piece of sponge cake. I remember my mother using her fingers and that is my preferred method. You dip a piece of cake into the sauce until it is covered on all sides with chocolate. Now immediately roll the chocolate covered cake in the plate of coconut flakes, making sure all sides are covered. Because the chocolate sauce is still wet, the cake will pick up lots of coconut flakes. There you have your lamington. Put it aside on a plate and now do the next lamington. Soon they are all done and sitting on the plate. Leave them to sit for a while so the chocolate sauce can cool and set.
Then put on the kettle and call your friends. It’s time for a cup of tea or coffee and a lamington. In my opinion, a well-made lamington is one where the chocolate sauce has soaked into the cake a little bit, making the outside of the lamington a little soft. When you bite into it, the soft chocolatey taste just melts in your mouth. I bet you can’t stop at just one.
If you have a question or a comment to make, please leave it in the comments box at the bottom of this page. Or, you can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you. Tell me where you live, a little bit about yourself and what you think of my Slow English podcast. I will write back to you, in English of course. If you would like to take a short quiz to see if you have understood this podcast, you will also find it on my website. Goodbye until next time.
Podcast 82 Quiz - Did you understand the podcast?
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Question 1 of 10
True or False? – Rob has a long list of foods which are typically Australian.Correct
Question 2 of 10
True or False? – Rob has been eating lamingtons most of his life.Correct
Question 3 of 10
True or False? – Rob likes to go to Healesville because it is only 40 kilometres from his home.Correct
Question 4 of 10
True or False? – The lamington was invented by the wife of the Governor of Queenlsand, Governor Lamington.Correct
Question 5 of 10
True or False? – Rob thinks that it is very difficult to make lamingtons.Correct
Question 6 of 10
True or False? – Rob thinks he is not a very good cook.Correct
Question 7 of 10
True or False? – When making lamingtons, you can make your own sponge cake or you can buy it from a supermarket.Correct
Question 8 of 10
True or False? – The chocolate sauce is made with icing sugar, melted butter and boiling water.Correct
Question 9 of 10
True or False? – You must first roll the cubes of sponge cake in the desiccated coconut.Correct
Question 10 of 10
True or False? – Each lamington must be dipped in the chocolate sauce then put on a plate to cool.Correct
actually = really
admit = agree
apparently = when you are told something is true, but you have not seen it yourself
as far as I am concerned = my opinion, what I believe
at short notice = when you don’t have much time to prepare
bet = (here) when you believe something will happen
bound = (here) will
break = a rest
chef = a person who is paid to cook meals for other people
cocoa = a powder made from cocoa beans, used to make chocolate
corners = where a road changes direction
covered = when something is put over the top of something else
created = made
cube = a box shape, with all sides equal
definitely = when something is true, there is no doubt
delicious = tastes very good
desiccated = dried
destinations = the place you go to on a trip
dip = to put something into a liquid and take it out again
flakes = very small pieces of something
fork = used to pick up food, such as meat
grated = when something is cut into very small pieces
icing sugar = a fine type of sugar used in cooking, usually to make the icing on a cake
immigrants = people who go to another country to live
ingredients = the foods you use to make a meal
invented = made for the first time
kettle = used to boil water
melted = when you turn a solid into a liquid
memoirs = when someone writes down what happened to them in their life
nation = a country, such as Australia, India, Germany, China, etc
nothing flash = not fancy, not complicated, very simple
occasions = the time when something happens
option = when something is possible, something which you can choose
recipe = instructions on how to cook something
regarded = when people think something
set = when something goes from soft to hard
settles = when a decision is made
spare couple = when you have two of something
sponge cake = a cake yellow in colour, made from eggs, flour and butter
spoon = used to pick up food such as soup
typical = something that you see many times
unexpected = when you did not know that something was going to happen