Out of the three sweets that simonc mentions; Pavlova, lamington and Peach Melba, the lamington is the most recognisably Australian. The jury will always be out as to whether Pavlova originated in New Zealand or Australia and although Peach Melba is named after one of Australia's greatest opera divas, the dish is most decidedly French, created in her honour, as was the trend at the time, by Georges Auguste Escoffier.
Kids grow up in Australia with lamingtons. They are as Australian as Kangaroos and Vegemite and they are actually quite tasty, even to someone without a sweet tooth such as myself.
There is no mystique surrounding these small cakes. They are simply a sponge cake that has been coated in chocolate and coconut, but this simplicity makes them shine all the more. If you are far away from our big country and have developed an addiction to our sweets such as Tim Tams, or even if you are an Aussie who wants to relive childhood, try this simple recipe, its addictive.
125 ml (1/2 cup) caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
250 ml (1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
60 gm (2 oz) butter, melted
3 cups icing (confectioner's) sugar
1/3 cup powdered cocoa
1/2 cup boiling water
250 ml (1 cup) desiccated coconut
For the sponge cake, place the eggs, sugar and vanilla in a large heatproof mixing bowl and whisk well. Place over a pot of simmering water and whisk constantly for 5 or 6 minutes. You are trying to increase the volume of the mixture as much as possible. Aim for double. Remove from the heat and whisk until the mix cools slightly.
Gently, but thoroughly mix in the flour and butter. Place into a greased 30 cm (12 in) by 20 cm (8 in) cake pan that has been lined with non-stick paper. Bake in a pre-heated 180 °C (360 °F) oven for 30 minutes. Test the sponge; if you press the surface with your finger, it should spring back. If you leave an impression, replace in the oven for 5-10 minutes.
Turn the cake out onto a wire rack and allow to cool. Cut into 3 equal strips lengthways, then each strip into 8 pieces. Place the icing sugar, cocoa and boiling water in a large bowl and mix well to combine. Stir the mix until it is shiny. Keep as warm as possible to stop it getting thick. Place the coconut on a plate lined with non-stick paper. Using a fork, stick one piece of cake and dip into the chocolate mix. Lift and drain away the excess, then roll in the coconut to coat. Place on a wire rack to set. Repeat with the remaining pieces of sponge. Makes 2 dozen lamingtons.