Meet your new food obsession: the lamington. Simple yet highly addictive, these delicious little cake squares are ubiquitous in Australian coffee houses. To an uninitiated Texan, however, they are nothing short of a revelation. For this “discovery,” we can thank Ascension Coffee owner/lamington smuggler Russell Hayward.
Enlisting the talents of Yang Wu, CIA grad and director of culinary operations at Everett & Elaine, Hayward set out to bring this culinary icon of his homeland to Dallas. It’s safe to say Wu has done the Aussies proud, especially considering he’d never even heard of a lamington before working with Hayward to create what is perhaps the ideal recipe.
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The essence of all lamingtons is a sponge cake base, with consistency varying from one recipe to the next. Ascension’s version features a light pound cake coated in chocolate frosting and dusted with ultra-fine coconut snow. It’s straightforward and uncomplicated but a perfect companion to a full-bodied cup of coffee. If you want to go full Aussie, pair it with a long black (espresso poured into hot water).
It’s surprising the “lam-o” doesn’t seem to be getting a lot of traction here in the states. A few specialty bakeries in Texas offer them and they’ve migrated to a few California cafes. Cleveland, Ohio, has a version — dubbed “coconut bars” — they’ve held dear for decades. With any luck, local moms will take a cue from Australian mums and we’ll start seeing these at bake sales. Until then, you'll be making googly eyes at Ascension’s pastry case.
Ascension Coffee, 1621 Oak Lawn Ave., ascensiondallas.com