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Klapperkoek, as you might know it, is actually not a South African treat at all. If you’re wondering how that could be, it’s probably because it’s such a firm favourite everywhere; that its roots are often forgotten (or completely overlooked). If a Lamington Cake could speak, it would have an Australian accent. It’s true, the cake that you grew up loving heralds from Down Under! In Afrikaans, you would have fondly referred to it as “Klapperkoek”, which directly translates to “Coconut Cake”. In English, you would have referred to it as Lamington Cake.

The History of the Lamington Cake

Lord Lamington (Charles Wallace Baillie), who was Queensland’s governor from 1895 to 1901, is the man that Lamington Cake is named after. Apparently, he was prone to wearing hats that looked just like cakes! Even though Lord Lamington couldn’t stand the cake himself, it is said that it was served at all state ceremonial events at the time.

In South Africa, you have most likely seen small pieces of the Lamington Cake for sale, simply called “Lamingtons”. This is something that only started happening well after 1910 when Lamington Cakes first started appearing in cookbooks. Lamingtons are merely small squares of cake cut off from the main Lamington Cake.

In Australia, you will hear of locals speaking of “National Lamington Day”, which is a day that local charities sell mainly Lamington Cakes on, in an attempt to raise money and awareness. Australia’s National Lamington Day is on the 21st of July each year.

Back when Lord Lamington was around, it is said that cooks used the dessert as a way to use up old and stale sponge cakes. Today, most recipes focus on a basic sponge cake (vanilla) that is coated in chocolate and sprinkled in bits of coconut. The cake is filled with strawberry jam, mascarpone, and whipped cream.

Lamington Cake Recipe

If you have been wondering how to make a Lamington Cake; wonder no more! You are about to learn how to do just that! Simply follow the easy instructions in the recipe below and soon you will be enjoying the melt-in-your-mouth delectability that has become synonymous with Australia’s favourite desert.

There are several things you will need to make in order to piece together a Lamington Cake. These are: vanilla sponge cake, sugar syrup, strawberry filling, chocolate glaze, and the mascarpone frosting. The recipe below can serve between 10 and 12 people. Let’s get started gathering the ingredients. Here’s what you will need:

For the Vanilla Sponge Cake

  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • ¾ cup of flour (all purpose)
  • 1/3 cup of sugar (70g)
  • 1 tsp of vanilla essence
  • 1 and ½ tsp of melted butter

For the Sugar Syrup

  • 3 tbsp of water (50ml)
  • ¼ cup of sugar

For the Strawberry Filling

  • 250g punnet of strawberries (you can use fresh or frozen – your choice!)
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • ¼ cup of sugar

For the Chocolate Glaze

  • 120g of chocolate (semi-sweet)
  • 140g of whipped cream (you can whip this yourself)

For the Mascarpone Frosting

  • 250g of Mascarpone cheese (this should not be cold – room temp will do)
  • ½ cup of powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla essence
  • 1 and ¼ of cold whipped cream
  • ½ tbsp of gelatin powder
  • 2 tbsp of water

For the Decorations

  • Strawberries (fresh is best)
  • Shredded coconut (unsweetened)
  • Acetate sheets

What to Do | Directions

Before you can piece the Lamington Cake together, you will need to prepare each part of the cake separately. Let’s begin…

Preparing the Vanilla Sponge Cake:

  • You will need to preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (equivalent: 350F). While the oven is heating, you can grease a pan – it needs to be around 20cm. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and then begin sifting your flour (set it to one side when you are done).
  • In a bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla extract. You should mix for approximately 10 minutes. The mixture should be thick and have grown by around 3 times in volume. Now you can sift the flour mixture again, over the batter. Use a wooden spoon to fold the ingredients in.
  • Add the melted batter and fold it in too. Now you can pour the entire mixture into the cake pan and set it to bake for around 20 minutes or until it is golden in colour.  As soon as it is ready, take the cake out of the oven and turn it upside onto a cake rack. Let the cake cool.

Preparing the sugar syrup:

  • You will need a small saucepan or pot to boil the water and sugar. Once it is boiling, you can remove the saucepan from the heat and pour it into a clean bowl. Let it cool down before you use it.

Preparing the filling:

  • The strawberry filling is like a strawberry jam. This is made by boiling strawberries, lemon juice, and sugar in a saucepan. You must stir the mixture until it is boiling steadily. It should take around 10 minutes for the mixture to become thick, similar to jam. Remove the saucepan from the heat and sieve it immediately. Once it is sieved, it can be put to one side to cool down. This too must be completely cooled before it can be used.

Prepare the chocolate glaze:

  • Pour some water into a pan and heat. When the water is simmering, put the chocolate and cream into a glass or heatproof plastic bowl and place this over the pan. Let the cream and chocolate melt slowly.
  • Now, grab the sponge cake, which should be cool, and place it on a breadboard or on some parchment paper. Working on a cake rack makes things a bit easier. Pour the sugar syrup over the top of the sponge cake, allowing it to soak in. Now, pour the glaze on top and along the sides of the cake. Really spread things around. Now, spread coconut shreds over the top and the sides of the cake. Pop the cake in the fridge and let it cool for about 30 minutes. When it is completely chilled throughout, it will be easier to cut. Slice the cake into 2 layers.

Prepare the mascarpone frosting:

  • Place the gelatine powder into water and allow it to expand. It’s best to leave it for around 10 minutes, to enjoy the full effects.  Using a large bowl, mix the powdered sugar, vanilla and mascarpone well.
  • By now, the gelatine will be mostly solidified. You will need to work it into the mascarpone mixture, so place the gelatine over low heat and allow it to dissolve slightly. Then mix it into the mascarpone.
  • Mix the cream in a large bowl until it starts to form firm peaks. You must fold this cream gently into the mascarpone mixture. Now you can place the frosting mixture into a piping bag. The bag should have a medium sized tip (no more than around 11mm in diameter).

Putting the Lamington Cake Together:

  • Line a plate with parchment paper and place the first layer of the cake onto it (this will actually be the bottom layer of the cake). Place a cake ring around it and line the ring with acetate sheets. You can then use the sugar syrup to brush over the cake.
  • The next step is to add the strawberry jam to the cake. Leave a 1cm border around the cake, filling the rest in. Grab your piping bag and use it to squeeze frosting onto the top and sides. You can use a butter knife or a spatula to smooth the mixture evenly.
  • Pick up the second layer of the cake (this will be the actual top layer) and place it on top. Press down gently, but not too hard (pressing too hard will cause excessive oozing). This will push the jam into the 1cm border area that you left open.
  • The cake needs to refrigerate for at least 5 hours, possibly 6, so that it can set. Once it has set, you can use your strawberries and powdered sugar to decorate the outside of the Lamington Cake.

All that’s left to do is serve and enjoy!

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