When I ask Australians about their cuisine they just laugh at me. Sure, there are traditional dishes that used to be prepared by indigenous people. The ingredients used for preparation of these dishes used to depend on the surrounding environment and the season. In that sense indigenous food used to be strongly intertwined with the place and time it was made. Unfortunately, most of the knowledge about the ingredients and indigenous food preparation was lost in the past two hundred years. So what’s left?
Australia is a multicultural country, and so is its cuisine. Some of the suburbs of Sydney tend to be more strongly influenced by a certain culture than others, however almost everywhere it is possible to get a choice of German, Italian, Turkish, Thai, Chinese, Malaysian or Indian food. Therefore, you could say that modern Australian cuisine is just a mix of all of the above. However, there are some sweets and desserts that are considered to be traditionally Australian: pavlova, anzac biscuits and lamingtons. I have often witnessed disagreements about whether pavlova should be considered traditionally Australian or Kiwi. Anzac biscuits on the other hand were dismissed as traditional food by my Australian friends since they have only originated during Second World War and the recipe has been modified because of shortage of ingredients. Therefore, in the end I have decided upon trying to make lamingtons.
The first batch of lamingtons I got from a local bakery in the suburb I live in. At this point I should probably explain that lamingtons are just pieces of sponge cake coved in chocolate icing and shredded coconut. The local bakery is, ironically, run by a lovely lady of Asian origin. She was kind enough to explain to me how to make lamington myself. So, having tried the little cakes from the bakery I have attempted to make them myself. I didn’t have a lot of problems with the fairly standard sponge cake recipe. However, it took me some time to figure out how to melt chocolate without burning the chocolate or the pot. Fortunately, one of my wise flatmates explained to me that I needed to melt it over a pot of boiling water. Once I have mastered that I has to figure out how to prevent lamingtons from sticking to everything, including me, the table and the plate. Finally, the lamingtons had to go into the fridge to resume a relatively solid state in the summer heat. Here is the final result:
They have been approved by my Australian flatmates which is either evidence that they are indeed acceptable lamingtons or just that Australian people are very kind.
As for the twist form my own cuisine. Instead of making sponge cake, I have made what’s called in my language “oponki”. The process involved mixing flower with cottage cheese, cream and some eggs to make a cheesy dough. After rolling it out and cutting out round shapes, the cakes were deep fried. I have left the cakes to cool down before I put the icing on, but by the time I came back most of them were gone. I imagine my flatmates sick by this point of all the lamingtons were rather keen on something different. I have covered the remaining few cakes with the same icing that I used previously and shredded coconut. Here is a picture I managed to take before all of them were eaten: