While Australian cuisine has soaked up influences from across the globe, one thing is constant: our love for lamingtons on a national holiday. The origin of the simple sponge cake is blurry – the first recipes emerged in the early 20th century, and it’s believed to be named after Lord Lamington, the Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901. Whatever its background, it’s now a staple.

“There’s a sense of nostalgia associated with Australia’s humble lamington,” says Corey Costelloe, head chef at Rockpool Bar & Grill in Sydney. “Dunked in chocolate and coated in a layer of sweet desiccated coconut, these moist squares of sponge cake are an Australia Day picnic necessity.

“A light, moist and fluffy sponge cake forms the foundation of Rockpool Bar & Grill’s lamingtons. Layered with a smooth chocolate mixture and covered in soft flakes of desiccated coconut, each square is filled with deliciously sticky house-made jam.”

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Makes 40 mini lamingtons
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes (plus coating, freezing and standing)

500g caster sugar
600ml boiling water
100ml coconut cream
400g dried long-shredded coconut

Sponge cake
8 eggs
250g caster sugar
250g plain flour, sifted
30g butter, melted

Chocolate icing
175g dark chocolate
400g milk chocolate
50ml vegetable oil
400ml fresh cream
125ml sugar syrup

Strawberry jam
500g strawberries, roughly chopped
20ml balsamic vinegar
1 tsp vanilla paste
180g caster sugar

To prepare the coconut, combine the sugar and boiling water in a bowl to make a simple syrup. Then whisk in the coconut cream before adding the dried coconut. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Once cool, use a muslin cloth to squeeze all the excess liquid out until only the coconut is left. Spread the coconut flat on a tray and place in freezer until chilled.

Meanwhile, to make the cake, grease a 20cm x 30cm baking tray with spray oil and line base with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 170°C (160°C fan-forced).

Beat eggs and sugar with an electric mixer in a small bowl until fluffy and light in colour. Transfer egg mixture to a large bowl, then add sifted flour. Then, using a balloon whisk or a large metal spoon, gently fold the flour through the egg mixture.

Add in the melted butter and fold until combined. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until sponge springs back when touched lightly in the centre.

Once cooked, place cake onto a wire rack to cool for half an hour, then cut cake into 3cm x 3cm squares.

To make the chocolate icing, combine both chocolates in a large bowl and heat in microwave until melted. Stir in the oil.

In a pot over medium heat, bring cream and syrup to the boil. Then slowly add the cream mixture to the chocolate mixture and stir gently until it’s evenly combined. Give the mixture a quick stir and divide into two small bowls and set aside. Separating the icing into two bowls ensures the mixture is clean and cakes don’t pick up excess crumbs.

To make the strawberry jam, combine strawberries, balsamic vinegar, vanilla paste and 80g of sugar in a bowl.

Cook the remaining 100g of sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until a thick, golden caramel mixture forms. Then add the strawberries and stir for one minute. Continue to cook until soft, then blitz the mixture using an electric stick blender. Reduce heat and cook until a thick mixture has formed.

To finish, gently fill the middle of each piece of cake with jam using a piping bag. You can insert the piping bag in any side of the cake. Then, using a large fork, dip each piece of cake into the chocolate icing until evenly coated – dip one half into one bowl and the other half into the other bowl. If the icing becomes too thick, stand it over hot water while dipping, or reheat gently with a little warm milk. If necessary, strain the icing into a clean bowl to remove excess cake crumbs.

Remove the coconut from the freezer, place it in a shallow bowl and gently toss each cake in coconut.

Transfer cakes to a wire rack and stand until set.