A New Twist on Tradition: Lamington Tres Leches Cake!

Lamington Cake

Love lamingtons but find them a bit dry? Then try this lamington tres leches cake! The butter sponge cake is soaked in a delicious mixture of three milks so that the cake is soft, fluffy and moist and layered with jam and whipped cream. The lamingtons are completed on the outside by a chocolate ganache coating and coconut! I called her Annabella.

I have to confess Dear Reader that I don't eat lamingtons a lot. Precisely because of the issue of the dry cake inside but soaking them in tres leches puts a whole new spin on thing and I LOVED this version. Tres leches cakes are a Mexican and Central and South American cake where you poke holes in a cake and pour in a mixture of three milks (milk or cream, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk). Lamingtons were said to be named after the Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901 Lord Lamington or his wife Lady Lamington.

The actual creator of lamingtons is not entirely clear although many believe it to be their French-born chef Armand Galland who created the lamington by dipping leftover butter cake pieces in chocolate sauce and then rolling them in coconut. This version of events was supported by Lady Lamington's memoirs. Also while coconut was a relatively unknown ingredient chef Armand's wife was from Tahiti where coconut was abundantly used. And did you know that on 21 July it is National Lamington Day in Australia?

Tips For Making Lamington Cake

Lamington Cake

1- It is best to make lamingtons over the space of 2 days. First bake the cake and then it firms up overnight so that it is easier to handle and doesn't break apart. This butter sponge cake is perfect for the task as it is sturdy but light and fluffy. You don't want too light a cake as it will disintegrate when you soak the milks and then coat it in chocolate.

2 - Tres leches cake usually has a lot more milk but since we will be coating it in chocolate ganache I have not made it as wet as a regular tres leches cake which can sometimes be very wet and soft.

3 - Give the cake time to absorb the three milk mixture. I leave it for an hour in the fridge to soak it all up. It's amazing how much it will soak up over that time.

4 - Normally lamingtons are coated in an icing sugar and cocoa powder dip but I much prefer chocolate ganache. Chocolate ganache tastes better, gives the cake a textural contrast but also gives the cake a protective coating to prevent it drying out. The original dip used to soak into the cake to make it more moist on the outside but since we have the tres leches soak this isn't necessary.

5 - Work quickly with the chocolate ganache. As soon as it is thick and spreadable use a palette knife to spread it over the cake and then press the coconut into the chocolate. It dries fairly quickly as the cake is chilled.

6 - If you prefer smaller, traditional lamington squares by all means bake this in a 35x25x2.5cm/13.7x9.8x1 inch rectangular tin!

Lamington Cake

I feel like 10 years ago, pavlova came back into fashion and now lamingtons are coming back in favour. Speaking of coming back into fashion, I recently had my birthday. I saw and heard from all of my friends and my parents sent me a text (they remembered!). I had so many flowers that our house smelled like a florist (I just wanted flowers for my birthday). It started on the Wednesday and stretched out until the Sunday.

On the Friday I had a bit of luck on my side too (well luck of sorts). I was supposed to go out with Laura that night but she texted me that morning warning me that her asthma was particularly bad. I'm still dodging COVID and so I just checked with her that it wasn't COVID. She did a test and sadly it was COVID so I missed out on dinner with her (but what a close call!).

Lamington Cake

On Saturday night I went out to dinner with Miss America and Queen Viv. Miss America's card had a lovely message as well as a photo of me from the 90's. "You look the same," said Mr NQN and I added, "but with much less eyebrows!". I don't remember this photo being taken and I also have no memory of where my eyebrows went. The 90s really did a number on eyebrows (I truly don't remember plucking them that much) and I'm glad to confirm that my natural eyebrows are back. And I wonder if the super thin eyebrow will ever be back in fashion like lamingtons have.

So tell me Dear Reader, do you ever see pictures of yourself and not recognise yourself or remember them being taken? Do you like lamingtons?

Lamington Cake

Lamington Cake

Did you make this recipe? Share your creations by tagging @notquitenigella on Instagram with the hashtag #notquitenigella
Rated 5 out of 5 by 48 lovely readers. Share your rating:

An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott

Preparation time: 45 minutes

Cooking time: 60 minutes

Serves: 10 people

This recipe is best started the day before

For cake

Cooking time: 40 minutes

  • 1 1/4 cups/310ml/11flozs. whole milk
  • 1 stick/113g butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups/300g/10.6ozs cake flour*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 3/4 cups/385g/13.6ozs caster or superfine sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

Milk Soak

  • 150g/5ozs evaporated milk
  • 150g/5ozs sweetened condensed milk

  • 30ml/1oz whole milk

Chocolate Coating

  • 125g/4ozs dark or milk chocolate
  • 100ml/3.5flozs thickened cream
  • 1 cup/85g/3ozs desiccated or shredded coconut

Cream Filling

  • 280g/9.8ozs strawberry or raspberry jam
  • 50g/1.7ozs cream cheese
  • 60g/2ozs caster or superfine sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
  • 1 cup/250ml/8.8flozs thickened cream

*Cake flour can be bought at the supermarket. You can also make it at home. To make 1 cup/150g/5.2ozs of cake flour replace 2 tablespoons of plain all purpose flour with cornflour/fine cornstarch and whisk well. I usually mix up a big batch of this and keep it in a container ready for baking cakes as it produces a softer texture.

Step 1 - Line a 20cm/8inch round tin (not springform) on the base and sides with parchment. Preheat oven to 160C/320F. In a saucepan heat the milk and butter until the butter has melted and stir in the salt (do not boil, just scald the milk). Set aside. Sift the flour and baking powder together into a bowl.

Lamington Cake

Step 2 - In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment whisk the sugar, eggs and vanilla for 5 minutes until syrupy thick and very pale yellow (almost white). Add the hot milk mixture and whisk for 15 seconds or until incorporated. Then fold in the flour mixture on low speed in four lots until smooth (do not overmix). It will be a very liquidy batter. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 50 minutes or until the centre springs back when gently pressed. Cool in the tin overnight if you have time.

Lamington Cake

Step 3 - Whisk the evaporated, condensed and regular milk together in a jug. Slice the cake in half horizontally and place each layer on a plate with a rim. Poke holes in each cake half with a skewer, especially around the edge where the cake can be a bit dry. Pour the milk mixture across each cake gradually. I pour a bit, let it soak and then pour more. Don't add it all at once and if you feel like it can't absorb everything stop adding it. Place in the fridge for 1 hour to soak it all up.

Lamington Cake
Spreadable chocolate consistency

Step 4 - Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and then heat the cream until almost boiling. Pour the cream over the chocolate and place a plate over the bowl. Leave to sit for 5 minutes. Then stir the cream into the chocolate. It should be smooth with no lumps. If there are still lumps, microwave the mixture for 30 seconds at 75% temperature and mix until smooth. Sit for 5 minutes or until it starts to become thicker and spreadable.

Lamington Cake

Step 5 - Spread the chocolate around the sides of the bottom cake half and press coconut into the sides before the chocolate sets. Repeat with the top half of the cake. Place the bottom layer on a cake stand or plate. Add more milk mixture now if you think the cake can take it. Spread jam over the bottom half.

Lamington Cake

Lamington Cake

Step 6 - Make the stabilised whipped cream. Place the cream cheese and sugar in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whisk until combined (around 1 minute). Add the cream and vanilla and whisk until peaks form that can hold their shape. Be careful not to overwhip. If you see it starting to overwhip and start to become grainy, add 2-3 tablespoons of cream to the mixture and whisk this in. Place in a piping bag fitted with a #867 or French star tip. Pipe circles around the edge of the cake and then in the centre. Then add the top cake layer.

This cake must be stored in the fridge in an airtight container.

Lamington Cake

Published on by .

Reader Comments

Loading comments...

Add Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked*