1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk, at room temperature
4 cups (1 pound) (450 grams) confectioners' (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted
1/3 cup (35 grams) unsweetened natural or Dutch processed cocoa powder
3 tablespoons (42 grams) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups (175 gramsl) unsweetened shredded dried coconut
Lamingtons: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Butter, or spray with a nonstick cooking spray, the bottom and sides of an 8 inch (20 cm) square cake pan. Then line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
In a large bowl sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until soft. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture (in three additions) and milk (in two additions), beginning and ending with the flour.
Spread the batter into your prepared pan and smooth the top with the back of a spoon or an offset spatula. Bake in preheated oven for about 20 - 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake just comes out clean.
Cool the cake in the pan, placed on a wire rack, for about 10 minutes. Then place a wire rack on top of the cake pan and invert, lifting off the pan. Remove the parchment paper and then turn the cake right side up. Once the cake has completely cooled cut into 16 - two-inch (5 cm) squares.
Chocolate Frosting: Place the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, butter and milk in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir the mixture until it becomes smooth and of pouring consistency.
To assemble Lamingtons: Place the coconut on a large plate. One at a time, dip the squares of cake into the chocolate frosting and then roll the cakes in the coconut. Gently transfer the Lamingtons to a clean wire rack to set. (If the icing becomes too thick, simply place the frosting back over the simmering water and reheat until it is of pouring consistency. You may have to do this a few times as the frosting has a tendency to thicken over time. Add a little more milk to frosting if necessary.)
Once the Lamingtons have set, store in an airtight container for several days.
(Alternatively, you can place the squares of cake on a wire rack that is placed on a large baking sheet. Then pour the frosting over the top of each cake, letting it drip down the sides. Some of the frosting may drip onto the baking pan. Pour this frosting back in your bowl and reuse (strain if necessary).
Makes 16 2-inch (5 cm) Lamingtons.
Lamingtons are very popular in Australia and it's easy to see why. They consist of a small square (cube) of white cake that is dipped in a sweet chocolate frosting and then rolled in dried coconut. I suspect their namesake, Lord Lamington (Governor of Queensland from 1896 - 190l), might be surprised at how popular these cakes have become. I have read that Lamingtons are sold in most Australian bakeries and sell very quickly at bake sales. So quickly, in fact, that charities have what are called 'Lamington Drives'. I find this cake irresistible, as they remind me of a chocolate and coconut covered cake doughnut.
To make Lamingtons, you start with a white cake (home made or store bought) that has been cut into two inch (5 cm) squares. You can use either a sponge cake, a pound cake, or a butter cake (which is what I have used). Although most Lamington recipes advise you to 'dip' each square of cake into the frosting, you could also pour the frosting over the cakes, as it prevents crumbs from getting into the bowl of icing. Once the cake is covered in the frosting, then each square of cake is rolled in unsweetened dried coconut (I like to use shredded coconut). The Lamingtons are then placed on a wire rack to dry and can be stored in an airtight container for several days.
Note: Desiccated or dried coconut is different from the more common 'sweetened' coconut sold in plastic bags or cans in grocery stores. Desiccated (dried) unsweetened coconut has a sweet coconut flavor and dry (not sticky) texture. You can find it in some grocery stores, health food stores or specialty food stores. However, you can use dried and shredded sweetened coconut.