Tower of Babel and Sweet Hubris

I really like the pannacotta lamingtons from flour and stone bakery in Wolloomooloo.

It costs $6.50 a piece, and I have to eat it over several days as it is so rich. So you can imagine how excited I was when I found *the* exact recipe to make one for me.

*Happy Dance*
Essentially this is a six step recipe:
  • 1) Bake sponge
  • 2) Make pannacotta (Italian for ‘cooked cream’)
  • 3) Soak sponge in pannacotta
  • 4) Make raspberry jam
  • 5) Make chocolate icing Make chocolate ganache
  • 6) Assemble lamington using pannacotta soaked sponge, jam, chocolate icing mixture and rolling in coconut.
I *ahem* skipped steps 1 and 3. I wanted the essence of the pannacotta lamington without the heartache: I have made both cakes and jam in the past, so I felt as though I didn’t need to do these steps.
I also didn’t look at the quantities closely, so I found that I had to halve the amount of pannacotta as I only had two cups worth of lactose free cream. This probably affected the final result as you will see shortly.
Step One: Bake sponge.
I bought a two layer plain sponge from the local Colesworthdi supermarket. This gave me 450g worth of approx 20cm by 15cm sponge. At least one hours worth of baking and preparation avoided.
Step two: Prepare pannacotta
As I mentioned earlier, I had only two boxes of lactose free cream. If I had paid attention to another pannacotta recipie, I would’ve noticed that I could’ve also used milk, and thus retained the liquid quantities. Barely had I heated the cream, and the sugar had melted, when I read that I was supposed to strain the cream in the next step. What? What a waste! I found that the vanilla pod seeds clumped together.

Soaked Sponge

I strained using a colander and some cheesecloth. Then I had vanilla seed cream soaked cheesecloth. Which I immersed in milk to try and get the tastiest bits out.
Step three: Make raspberry jam
I don’t have time for making jam. Instead, I used a nice homemade plum jam.
Step four: Make chocolate icing
I think this is my second time melting chocolate. I had bought some milk coveture chocolate from alfalfa house… but after reading the ingredients (and eating some: the ultimate test) I think its sugar content was too high. I didn’t sift the icing sugar, but I broke up the larger sized lumps with my mixing spoon. Once the entire mixture had combined, I kept finding white lumps of icing sugar rising out of the dark depths like little submarines.
Step five: Assemble lamingtons
I tipped the first pannacotta soaked sponge onto the plate.  I coated the top of the base layer sponge with plum jam.
Then I tipped the second pannacotta soaked sponge on top of the first.

Sponge layers

So far, so good.

Cut into six giant pieces.

Tower of babel

Stare in horror as the top layer pieces start to topple over.
I think my issue here is that each sponge layer had not been fully immersed in the pannacotta, so I had four layers per sponge layer:

brown crust
unsoaked sponge
soaked sponge
soaked brown crust.

This did not make good foundations for my cake.
In a panic, I pooled chocolate onto a small plate. Place piece of sponge on top. Dribble chocolate icing all over. Throw coconut on top.

Pannacotta Lamington - result 1

So very very sweet. In the end I cut off the bits of chocolate icing on the outside and dug into the sponge on the inside when I ate it. I left the remainder of the icing on the stove during the day. When I returned, it had set hard. I threw it out, and was very happy that I did not tip it all over my sponge.
After some consultation, I think the chocolate icing was incorrect. Perhaps this recipe was tweaked for the American market, who have a sweeter tooth.
“Traditional” recipes use cocoa, icing sugar, butter and water for the icing. So using (sweet) chocolate and sugar was destined for failure.
A few days later I tried again using skewers stuck through the leftover uneaten sponge (long life sponge: like the famous long life big mac). This won’t work if the soaking in pannacotta stage has been successful.
The Real Step four: Make Chocolate Ganache
You need:
Pouring Cream
Non-compound Cooking Chocolate
I didn’t measure quantities. I just kind of threw stuff in. Approximately 70mL pouring cream to 30g chocolate for ¼ (100g) sponge. You don’t want to result to have too much cream or else it won’t set again once applied to the sponge. Heat gently in a double boiler, stirring until combined, then remove from heat.
Step five Again: Assemble lamingtons
After I made the chocolate ganache, I propped the skewered sponge over the top pot of the double boiler and spooned the chocolate ganache over it. I turned it once to coat the underside.
Once coated, I moved the skewered sponge to rest over another container. I chucked on some shredded coconut, and watched again in horror as part of the sponge separated from its mate and fell off the skewer.

pannacotta lamington take two

Result take two:  
Messy deliciousness! Using the ganache has made the lamington a lot more moist… and possibly negated the requirement for the pannacotta soaking? Perhaps, perhaps not. I wonder if it would be possible to ensure the pannacotta soaked the middle of the sponge rather than just the edges…? Insert giant syringe here. 
It was hard to find the pannacotta soaked bits, but then, I couldn’t stop eating. By the time it made it to my independent taste tester, there was only a very small corner left.
Next time:
  • Don’t start this recipe on a school night.
  • Cut the brown crust of the store-bought sponge so that the sponge is of the same texture throughout
  • Sarah has suggested that the store-bought sponge is not used as the grain of the crumb is too fine. Her cooking bible suggests making a genoise sponge, and the pictures show a sponge with a much coaser, drier texture.
  • Use good quality vanilla extract or don’t strain the cream mixture
  • Try and find a good quality shredded coconut. The ’moistened’ coconut that I used seemed to have a sugary quality to it, like crystalline pineapple.
  • Chocolate ganache is the way to go. Best to apply in accordance with the original instructions rather than use the “skewer” technique.
  • Making lamingtons is HARD.
If you’re going to proceed with making chocolate icing:
  • Adjust the quantity of sugar in the chocolate mixture, depending on the quality of chocolate
  • Sift the icing sugar. Then sift it again. I usually never sift, but this time, I would advise it.


Recipe is only replicated to convert to Australian/metric quantities.
(makes 25)
Recipe by Nadine Ingram
Sponge cake*
10 ½ ounces butter
10 ½ ounces superfine sugar
5 eggs, beaten
10 ½ ounces self-rising cake flour, sifted twice
5 fl ounces milk
leaves of gelatine
4 cups (1L) pure cream*
400 grams sugar
1 vanilla pod, scraped
400g frozen raspberries or strawberries
283g sugar
Juice of one lemon
Chocolate icing
396 gm good-quality chocolate (don’t skimp on this)
52.5 gram butter
200g icing sugar
100ml milk
600g ounces each of desiccated, shredded, and chipped coconut (or 21 ounces of any one)
Sponge cake
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F) . Grease two 20cm 30cm  cake pans and line them with greaseproof baking paper.
2. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.
3. Add the beaten eggs gradually until fully blended.
4. Fold in the flour and milk alternately until the batter is smooth. (This can be done with a mixer on low speed.)
5. Pour the batter into the cake pans.
6. Bake at 180 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, until the middle of the cake bounces back when pressed with your index finger.
7. Remove from the oven and cool.
1. Soak the gelatin leaves in cold water to soften.
2. Place the cream, sugar, and scraped vanilla pod in a saucepan. Stir and warm over low heat until sugar is dissolved.
3. Remove the gelatin leaves from the water and squeeze any excess water from them with your hands.
4. Remove the cream mixture from the heat and add the gelatin leaves. Whisk well until all the gelatin leaves have melted.
5. Strain through a fine sieve and leave at room temperature for an hour.
1. Place the berries and sugar in a saucepan and stir on low heat until sugar is dissolved.
2. Add lemon juice and increase heat until mixture reaches a rapid boil. Stir occasionally to ensure it does not stick to the bottom of the pan. This takes about half an hour.
3. To test the jam for setting, place a small amount on a saucer and put it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
4. Check consistency, and turn off the heat once the jam is set.
1. Once the sponge cakes have cooled, pour equal portions of the panna cotta over the cakes.
2. Refrigerate overnight.
3. The next day, spread the jam over one of the cakes and layer the other cake on top.
4. Cut the sandwiched cakes into 6cm x 3cm* pieces
5. Put the lamingtons back in the fridge while you prepare the chocolate icing.
6. Place all icing ingredients except coconut in a bowl over a pan of boiling water and stir until smooth and all sugar has melted.
7. Pour one-third of the chocolate onto a flat tray.
8. Remove the lamington pieces from the fridge, place them on the flat surface of chocolate, and spoon chocolate over the top and down the sides.
9. After letting the chocolate set slightly, press the lamingtons into the coconut bits.
10. Keep refrigerated in a sealed container until ready to serve.

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