Easy vegan Lamington recipe. Lamingtons – a vanilla sponge coated in chocolate and coconut, easy and fun to make – so easy to eat!
Sometimes nothing else will do. It has a child-like simplicity that never fails to win me over. Perhaps it takes me back to those childhood days when a cake was a special treat: my grandma’s Victoria Sponge or Coffee Cake (note: this is a plain but tender sponge cake flavored with coffee and filled with coffee buttercream) or perhaps the cake I insisted that my Mum made for me every single birthday: the Hansel and Gretel chocolate house. I insisted that the chimney always went to the birthday girl, a small square of sponge with about an inch of buttercream icing used to cement it to the top of a rickety cake roof.
Later on, my Mum discovered the joys (and simplicity) of the Lemon Drizzle Cake, a cake with such longevity that we would be eating it two weeks after it was baked and it still tasted great.
England is a country of cake eaters. We love dense fruit cake with virginal royal icing and marzipan, and we enjoy the daintiness of Fairy Cakes (although these have been somewhat usurped by the ubiquitous Double-Choc or Blueberry Muffin in recent years) and Chocolate Cake holds a special place in the hearts of dumped females the country over.
Yet, it still seems that the ratio of people buying cakes compared to baking them is top-heavy. People seem to fear baking as though it were a sophisticated French technique. Indeed, there is a certain art to icing cakes but there is nothing at all to creaming some butter and sugar together and folding in some flour. I have said before that baking becomes more like second nature as your confidence improves and don’t the cakes that our mothers and grandmothers bake(d) taste so much better than their chemical-laden shop-bought variants?
I am living proof that practice does indeed make perfect. I have had many disasters in the kitchen but as you grow more experienced, you learn certain pitfalls and specific methods, and your success rate grows exponentially. Remember that you are in charge of the ingredients and not the other way around.
One Christmas, about 6 years ago, my Mum bought me a cookbook, simply entitled Chocolate. I remember baking several disastrous recipes throughout the Christmas Holiday, including a Dobos Torte (which was a clear case of running before I could walk) that resembled a stack of malformed pancakes. I did, however, bake an Almond and Hazelnut gateau that was successful if not pretty. It was my first truly delicious cake and I haven’t stopped baking since.
That Chocolate book was long filed away as it became replaced by Delia Smith, Nigella Lawson, Tamasin Day-Lewis, Elisabeth Luard, et al. But, whilst searching for an Andy Warhol book the other day, I stumbled across the Chocolate book once more and fell upon it, lavishing its dusty pages with kisses. It was like being given a brand new book.
I spent hours salivating over the 250+ pages of chocolate cakes, mousses, gateaux, cheesecakes, crepes, and soufflés, all of which seemed perfectly cookable. Recipes that, five years ago, seemed grueling, now seemed achievable. I allude this to my time spent with the Daring Bakers, time which has boosted my confidence and skills immeasurably.
Whilst I bookmarked every page in my new find, there was one cake that I had always wanted to make, long before I had even received this cookbook. The memory of this cake lurks in my mind from the days when I would return home from school, hug our Labrador Monte around the neck, and then sit down to watch an Australian soap opera called Sons and Daughters. Notable, like most soap operas from the early 1980s, were, for having wobbling scenery and badly written scripts, this was compulsive viewing back in those grey days of television.
What I remember most of all was that when the characters in the soap would sit down for tea and a chat, they would always eat a gooey, chocolatey, coconutty cake called a Lamington. And no matter how much I pleaded with my Mum to bake some for me, she always refused, citing grounds of getting her fingers icky. And I can see her point.
Table of Contents
What are Lamingtons?
The Lamington is another one of those legendary foods, the origin of which is strongly disputed depending on who you talk to. Some say that a fortuitous but clumsy accident involving the 2nd Baron or Lord Lamington dropping a cake into a terrine of gravy and then into desiccated coconut inspired this cake, others say that it was named after the aforementioned Baron for his taste in headwear, the cake resembling this favorite titfer.
A slightly more believable story comes once again from the kitchen of Baron Lamington, a thrifty cook from Queensland Australia, utilizing stale cake by rolling it in a chocolate coating, then coconut to disguise the dry gateaux. It was hailed a success and history was supposedly made that day. The Baron himself though didn’t like the cake or the honor of having them named after him, and referred to them as “Those bloody woolly biscuits.”
More fool him because these delightful squares of goodness deservedly take their place in the International Cake Hall of Fame. And you don’t have to use stale cake these days either.
In short, a Lamington is one of those delicious traditional Australian desserts that is deceptively simple to make. Squares of vanilla sponge cake dipped in a rich chocolate icing, then rolled in coconut. Some recipes use a strawberry jam coating and then coconut, but this chocolate vegan version is my favorite.
Some recipes call for a chocolate sponge but the classic lamington is traditionally made with a vanilla sponge. This is the best vegan lamingtons recipe you will try, no one will know it’s eggless, and they will rave about the chocolate and coconut coating!
- Vanilla Sponge Cake. Click here for more details on how I make my easy vanilla sponge cake. Traditionally this should be a butter cake, but I find I have mixed results making vegan butter cakes, so I prefer to use oil. This recipe makes a fluffy vanilla sponge cake that’s firm enough to cut into squares once cooled.
Note: this smooth batter is quite thin, so don’t worry.
- Plain Flour
- Baking Powder
- Flavorless oil. I use sunflower oil, you could also use melted coconut oil.
- Granulated Sugar
- Soy Milk or you could use Almond Milk or other non dairy milk of your choice.
- Vanilla Extract
- Vegan Buttercream. Actually, less a buttercream and more a chocolate glaze, this nonetheless uses melted vegan butter to make it unctuous and rich:
- Dark chocolate chips. I always use Callebaut but use your favorite. You could also use cocoa powder in a pinch, but ensure that you sift first, and whisk it for a while to make sure it dissolves!
- Vegan butter
- Icing Sugar
- Soy Milk
- Desiccated Coconut. Don’t use shredded coconut flakes as they aren’t fine enough. You need to make it stick all over!
Once you have baked your cake in a square tin and it is completely cold, using a serrated knife, cut it into 9 equal squares, leveling off the edges if need be.
You can cut them into smaller cubes to make lamington bites if you prefer!
- To make the icing, place the chocolate, butter, and milk into a small saucepan over low heat. Warm through until all the ingredients have melted and you have a glossy thick chocolate sauce. Remove from the heat.
- Note: some recipes call for a double boiler but just keep the heat low, and you won’t need one.
- Sift in the icing sugar and whisk until you have a thick icing.
This process is messy. There is no escaping that. However, you can make clean-up a little easier on yourself with a bit of planning.
- Place a large wire rack over a piece of greaseproof paper. This will catch the drips from the chocolate coating.
- Place the desiccated coconut on a large plate.
- Have a small spatula and kitchen paper (for hand-wiping) nearby
- Have another piece of greaseproof paper to put the finished lamingtons on, whilst they set up.
- Pour your chocolate coating into a jug. This makes pouring it over the squares much easier.
- Now, place your squares on the wire rack, and pour the chocolate icing over them all. Don’t worry at this point if all the sides (except the bottom, of course) are not coated.
- Using a small spatula or knife, gently manipulate the icing so that it starts to slide down the sides. Take your time, it will happen!
- Now, using your fingers (wear gloves if you prefer), working quickly, take one square at a time and drop it, coated side down, onto the coconut. Now you can scoop up any excess chocolate on the greaseproof paper under the cooling rack, and smear that over any exposed bits of cake.
- Gently roll the squares in the coconut, using your fingers to press it in until all of the coated sides are covered.
- Place on your clean piece of greaseproof paper and repeat until all the squares are coated in coconut. Leave to set at room temperature (unless it is particularly hot where you are, then refrigerate instead).
- You may need to add more coconut if you find that it gets a bit clogged up with chocolate.
- Leave to cool then store lamingtons in an airtight container for up to a week.
- Enjoy with a cup of tea, whilst watching Kath and Kim.
Try my other delicious vegan cakes
- The Best Vegan Banana Bread
- Berry Bundt Cakes
- Shortbread Plum Squares
- Easy Spiced Pumpkin Squares
- Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins
- A Classic Pumpkin Pie
- Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
- Old-Fashioned Rock Cakes
- Retro Vegan School Cake (Sprinkles Cake)
Vegan Lamington Recipe
- 9" brownie pan, lined
- Cooling Rack
- Greaseproof Paper or Tin Foil
- 1 cup Soy Milk - or plant-based milk of your choice
- 1 cup White Sugar
- ¼ cup Oil - I use vegetable or sunflower
- 1 tablespoon Egg Replacer - I like to use Orgran
- 3 tablespoon Water
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1½ cups Plain Flour
- ¼ cup Cornflour
- 2 teaspoon Baking Powder
- pinch Salt
- 170 g Icing Sugar
- 100 g Dark Chocolate
- 2 teaspoon Butter - vegan
- 8 tablespoon Soy Milk
- 1½ cups Desiccated Coconut
To Bake the Cake
- Preheat oven to 170c.
- In a blender, whizz together the sugar, oil, water, egg replacer, milk and vanilla extract until smooth.
- Pour this into a large mixing bowl.
- Sift together the flour, cornflour, salt and baking powder over the top of the wet ingredients.
- Whisk gently until no lumps are left.
- Pour into your prepared cake tin. The batter will be quite thin.
- Bake for between 25-30 minutes or until light golden and springs back to the touch.
- Leave to cool, in the tin, on a cooling rack.
- Once the cake is completely cold, cut into 9 squares. Trim them if you have any uneven sides, it will help the icing to adhere to it later.
- To make the icing, melt together the butter, chocolate and milk over very low heat.
- Sift in the icing sugar and whisk rapidly until the icing sugar has dissolved and the icing is smooth.
- Leave to cool until thick enough to spread. Note: It won’t be thick like buttercream, more like the texture of thick cream. It really is used just as an adhesive for the coconut.
- This is the messy but fun part. Cover the cake squares in icing. I found it best to stand the squares on a cooling rack over some kitchen paper and pour the icing over the top, allowing it to spill down the sides. Then, using a palette knife, spread over any dry spots of cake.
- Sprinkle all over with desiccated coconut. You will need to apply the coconut to the sides of the cake with your hands. Make sure to use up all the coconut.
- Leave in a cool place to set, preferably overnight (I fridged mine).
Please note that where the recipe asks for milk, butter or yogurt, this refers to any plant-based version that you prefer.