My first visit to Australia was a very short one. It happened almost unintentionally as Sydney airport was the last stop on our way to New Zealand. We landed at 5am. The first thing I noticed was the heavy rain outside. Somehow I didn’t expect that! The picture of Australia I imagined had nothing to do with the reality I could see through the windows. Also, I guess after being high in the air for so many hours we expected the same light to meet us on the ground. Certainly not heavy rain!
My thoughts switched very quickly to my immediate needs as after a very long and emotionally difficult flight all we needed was a cup of coffee and a quiet place to enjoy it. It was quiet at the airport, that’s for sure! Hard to see a living soul if I want to be precise, not to mention a coffee or any kind of treat. All the coffee shops were closed and all the treats one could see were behind the windows of display fridges. That was a sad picture. All I could think was: “Is this how things are on this side of the world?” It makes me feel sad just thinking about it, even now. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t expect much from visiting an airport but visiting Australia for the first time I thought even airports would be more exciting. At least that’s how I saw things back then. (In our defence, we were very young).
Sometimes we see the world through different eyes. Sometimes things might look sad, and other times happy but that still might not be the real picture. So I’ll tell you about my first real visit to Sydney.
Just a few years later I had a chance to visit Sydney in a much happier mood to start with. The fact that our trip was to happen just after celebrating the new millennium in New Zealand attributed to the whole happy arrangement. Still happy from a glass or two of wine and most importantly for surviving the biggest threat mankind experienced, the millennium bug and all other unnamed bugs, we headed for another new experience. An Australia Day to celebrate in Sydney and I dare to say – the most glamorous city in Australia. How exciting!
Needless to say those days were as nothing we experienced before especially when it comes to watching the fireworks, eating the lamingtons and coping with the rain! Unexpectedly and far from our expectations, on that magnificent day it rained almost throughout the whole day and when it didn’t it was so humid that we wished for the rain to start again. We needed an excuse for hiding within the plastic raincoats we had to invest in on the spot (and I am never ever to show that picture of me in a raincoat of an undefined blue colour standing on an open field covered with wheat hay).
But I have to tell you that the fireworks around Darling Harbour were magnificent! And the lamingtons, well I still do remember those. These are their reincarnation. Beautiful, moist and festive. Enjoy!
I used my favourite sponge cake, enriched with olive oil. Olive oil will give the cake an extra flavour as well as a different texture. This way the lamington base is thicker or sturdier if you like to see it that way.
110 g plain flour
145 g sugar
1/2 teaspoon aluminium free baking powder
100 ml milk
130 ml olive oil
150 g strawberry jam (I used this jam)
For cocoa icing:
120 g cocoa powder
220 g powdered sugar
50 ml warm water (or more if needed)
200 g desiccated coconut, to coat
Pre heat the oven to 180C. Grease a baking tin on the sides (I used 22cm round cake tin) or line it with baking paper.
Separate the eggs and whisk egg whites. Whisk for about 3-4 minutes or until they reach soft peak.
In a separate bowl sift flour, add baking powder and stir.
Whisk egg yolks with hand whisker add milk and good quality olive oil as this will affect the taste of the cake. Add flour to it and mix until you get smooth and thick batter. Add egg whites while gently string with spatula. Try not to brake the fluffiness.
Pour the batter into the baking tin and bake for 25 minutes. Check the cake with a cake tester before taking out of the oven.
Leave on the cooling rack to cool completely.
Slice the cake horizontally in half and spread one half with the jam. Top with the other half and leave it to set (I left in in the fridge overnight).
To make the cocoa icing you need to sift the cocoa and the icing sugar into the bowl. Add hot water just to combine, melt and mix all ingredients. My suggestion is not to make it too runny.
Spread desiccated coconut onto a baking sheet.
Cut the cake into 12 slices. Dip each into the cocoa icing and leave for minute or two on the cooling rack for the extra cocoa liquid to drain. It is less messy that way.
Roll each slice of the cake in the desiccated coconut and leave on the cooling rack to dry before placing into cake box.