The official start to my Summer Olympics series is a nod to Melbourne, Australia. Melbourne hosted the 1956 Summer Games. Because of an equine quarantine, all equine events were hosted in Stockholm months prior to the Opening Ceremonies of the 1956 games, giving Stockholm co-host status. The Melbourne Summer Olympics were the first to be held in the Southern Hemisphere which meant that they were held from November 22 to December 8, with officials fearing that holding them at this time would negatively impact athletes from the Northern Hemisphere.
Egypt, Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland all boycotted the 1956 Summer Olympics, leaving sixty-seven competing nations. The United States, with seventy-four total medals, ranked second behind the Soviet Union (ninety-eight total medals) in terms of total medal count. The 1956 Summer Olympics is where the tradition of athletes from different nations parading together at the Closing Ceremonies, instead of separated by country as they do in the Opening Ceremonies.
As a nod to the Melbourne Olympics, I made a dessert that originates in Australia, lamingtons. For those not familiar, lamingtons are a sponge cake that is filled with a thin chocolate icing (or sometimes cream or jam), dipped in chocolate, and rolled in coconut. I used a recipe by David Lebovitz, and I am extremely pleased with how these turned out. I’ll say it up front- there really isn’t any way to be neat about dipping them in chocolate and rolling them in coconut. Once you have the idea that neatness counts out of your head, you’re prepared. The sponge cake was surprisingly easy to make, and once these were dipped and set they were absolutely divine.
for the cake:
- 6 large eggs, at room temperature
- 3/4 C. sugar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 1/3 C. cake flour
- 2 1/2 oz. melted unsalted butter, at room temperature
for the chocolate icing:
- 6 0z. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 1/2 oz. unsalted butter
- 3/4 C. milk, whole or lowfat
- 2 C. powdered sugar
- 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 Tbsp. boiling water
- 3 C. unsweetened shredded coconut
To make the cake, butter a 9-inch square cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs and granulated sugar and salt on high speed for five to ten minutes, until thick (batter should form a well-defined ribbon when you lift the whisk from the batter).
Stir in the vanilla.
Fold the flour into the egg mixture by putting the flour in a sifter or mesh strainer and sifting the flour over the top of the beaten eggs while simultaneously folding the flour in using a whisk.
Fold in the melted butter until no streaks of butter are visible, being careful to not overfold the batter.
Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for 30 minutes, until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.
Remove from oven and let cool completely.
When the cake is cool, unmold the spongecake onto a cutting board and remove the parchment paper.
Trim the ends and cut the cake in half, cut the square into two rectangles and then cut each rectangle horizontally in half.
Make the icing by melting together the chocolate, butter, and milk in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.
Remove the bowl from the pan of simmering water when smooth, then whisk in the powdered sugar and cocoa powder.
Spread a generous 1/2 cup of the chocolate icing over one layer of the spongecake, then top with the other half of the spongecake, sandwiching the two together with chocolate icing in the middle.
Cut the cakes into sixteen squares and whisk two tablespoons of boiling water into the icing.
Put the coconut into a shallow baking dish or bowl.
Use your hands to dip the lamingtons into the chocolate, rolling them around to make sure each side is coated with the chocolate icing, then wipe off any excess on the side of the bowl.
Place the lamingtons in the dish of coconut, tossing them around gently to get them coated on all sides.
Once iced and tossed in coconut, place the lamingtons on a wire cooling rack and let stand until the icing firms up a bit.
Makes 16 servings.
Source: David Lebovitz