Monthly Archives: May 2012

Lamington Love

When I decided to venture into the wonderful world of blogging I wanted to come up with a blog name that reflected a bit about me. London Lamington was a little bit Australian and a little bit English so seemed to fit the bill quite nicely. Plus it had alliteration involved- even better in my view. The only problem that has presented itself is that, whilst I would associate Lamingtons as being something quintessentially Australian most of my English friends have absolutely no idea what they are. As a result, trying to tell people about my blog usually is met with the response of ‘London huh?’.

So I thought I would try to unveil some of the mystery around the lovely lamington by making a few. Lamingtons are basically a sponge or butter cake which sometimes has jam (my fav), or cream, or sometimes nothing in the middle and is then dipped in a thin chocolate coating and rolled in coconut- and most importantly they are yummy!

I have to admit- this was my first time making them from scratch. You can buy lamingtons pretty much anywhere in Australia, but getting that taste of home in London requires a little bit more effort. This is how I did it…

Start off by making a sponge or butter cake. I used this recipe:

  • 125g butter, softened
  • ¾ cup caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups self raising flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ cup of milk
  1. Preheat your oven to 180C and line the base of a greased 27cm x 18cm tin with baking paper.
  2. Cream the butter and gradually add the sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  3. Gradually beat in the slightly beaten eggs, adding them one at a time, and beating until well-incorporated before adding the next. Add in the vanilla extract
  4. Sift the flour and salt together (you can do this a few times, which will help to make the cake lighter).
  5. Gently fold the flour and salt into the creamed butter mixture, alternating the flour with the milk, be careful not to overwork the mixture.
  6. Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared tins and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until cooked through (a skewer will come out clean).
The sponge cake is a little bit more of a denser sponge than I would usually make and I was a bit apprehensive when I first took it out of the oven. But actually because of the chocolate coating it actually works quite well as you don’t want a cake which is going to crumble to pieces when you dip it in chocolate and roll it in coconut. If your sponge is very light and delicate, probably best to leave it overnight before you move to the topping phase. 

Topping

  • 300g (2 cups) icing sugar mixture (sifted)
  • 35g (1/3 cup) cocoa powder (sifted)
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) milk
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) boiling water
  • Desiccated coconut for coating

Once your sponge has cooled entirely start making your topping by combining all the ingredients listed above (apart from the coconut!). Whisk the mixture to get rid of any lumps. It will be a really runny chocolate icing- but this is what you want when you dip the cake in so it can soak up all the chocolate-ness.

Cut your sponge into even sided cubes or oblongs. Make sure to cut all the crusts off the outside of the cake so it can soak in more of the icing. You can cut your piece of cake in half like a sandwich a put jam and/or cream in the middle if you want to, or just leave it plain (I think the best is with strawberry or raspberry jam!).

Once you’ve got all your cakes cut out you’re ready for the messy phase! You need to do this 1 cake at a time. Start by dipping your cake in the chocolate mixture, leave it in there for about 15-30 seconds so it soaks in the chocolate. You can do this with 2 forks or spoons but I think its much easier to just use your hands. Take the cake out of the chocolate and let any excess icing drip off. Then roll the cake in a bowl of dessicated coconut (when I was telling my mum about this afterwards, she quite rightly pointed out that it would have been much easier to put the coconut in a big ziplock bag and do the coating that way….). You should get a thin layer of coconut on the top, so shake off any of the excess and then put the cakes on a cake cooling rack to set (or just eat them straight away!) Enjoy x

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Tea for Two

A few weeks ago a friend of mine introduced me to the little gem that is the Miller Harris tea room and it’s now one of my new favourite places in London.

The tea room is at the back of the Miller Harris store on Bruton St in Mayfair. It’s really little with only 4 tables, but it is a fantastic place to have a catch up with a friend away from the crowds in central London. You can book a table (yay) so there’s no worrying about getting there ahead of time in case you need to queue.

The tea room has a selection of gorgeous fragrant teas and a small selection of cakes which vary each day. I’ve tried both the violet and rose petal teas, both of which were lovely. The cakes are super yummy and some are organic too if that’s your thing. The staff are also great, everyone is so friendly and helpful. For the quality of the cakes and tea it’s also an absolute steal at around £7.50 for both.

I almost didn’t want to write about this place because it’s so tranquil and beautiful, but it seemed like too good a London secret to keep. Enjoy x

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Recent reads

I’ve always been an avid reader and for me, one of the best things about going on holiday is being able to put in some serious book time. It was a holiday reading PB for me in Borneo getting through 9 books- these were my favs.

Capital by John Lanchester

The main reason I liked this book is because it paints an interesting picture of London society by following the lives of the residents of a fictional London street. It is a little stereotypical at times in the way it depicts its residents, which range from an investment banker, a traffic warden, a premiership footballer, a polish builder and a banksy type artist to name a few.

Despite this, Capital has some interesting twists and turns through it and describes day-to-day London life with real insight. It’s a must read for anyone who has lived or is living in the capital.

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Bossypants is Tina Fey’s (of SNL and 30 Rock fame) autobiography and I LOL-ed the entire way through this book. It’s written as a series of recollections and anecdotes that follow her through her childhood, school and college and then her rise through the male dominated world of comedy.

A testament to the hilariousness of this book is the fact that my dad read it cover to cover after I left it lying around on holiday and secretly really enjoyed it. Considering the only book I have ever known him to finish is John Howard’s autobiography, this was a major feat. When I asked him if he liked it, he said it was ‘pretty funny, but probably more funny if you’re a woman’- big praise from my dad!

If you like any of Tiny Fey’s TV shows or movies you will probably find this book really entertaining and it’s a nice change from your standard novel.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

When I started to hear the hype around these books I asked one of my friends who had read them what all the fuss was about. When she told me they were about children who fight each other to death I dismissed them pretty quickly as I thought they sounded a bit ridiculous. Shortly after this conversation my sister told me she had spent the better part of the easter weekend reading all 3 of them. So I reconsidered my initial judgement and downloaded them onto my kindle in Borneo (ah the wonders of the kindle…).

These books are definitely addictive and I ended up reading them all within the space of a couple of days. They are short, easy reads that cross over into the teen fiction genre. I guess you could say they are ‘fantasy’ novels, but don’t dismiss them on that premise, as I’m not into that type of book at all and I really enjoyed this trilogy.

The books follow the adventures of Katniss Everdeen through the dystopian society of Panem. I’m not going to try to describe the plot here because it’s honestly too complicated and would probably sound really weird (much like my friend’s initial synopsis). But give them go if you want a book which you can get into really quickly and which will provide a bit of an escape.

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The first park day of 2012

There’s nothing I love more on a sunny weekend than spending time in London’s parks.

In a normal year I would have been frequenting the parks on the weekend way before mid May, but April showers this year seem to have continued into May and it’s just been grim! Finally the sun has come out this weekend and it’s inspired me to get off my backside, get some fresh air and be at one with nature- as much as one can be when you live in central London…

One of my favourite things is going on a really long walk up and around Primrose Hill and then into Regents Park. The view from the top of Primrose Hill is easily my favourite in London and walking (or running if you’re ambitious) is a good way to get the heart pumping.

Usually my boyfriend will run up the hill and I’ll meander at a leisurely pace after him but I came to the sad realisation this weekend that all this will need to change as I’ve foolishly signed up for a run in 2 months time which I am currently no where near being able to complete! I’m going to try to build up 1km at a time each weekend and hopefully will be able to do it eventually with the help of this fab app I found called RunningMate, the ‘lite’ version is free (yay) on the app store.

After I’d killed myself running my first kilometer (laugh all you like people- I’ve never understood the whole running ‘thing’, I hate running and I think people who run marathons are crazy). I was able to actually enjoy being in the park rather than feeling like I was about to keel over and die. The gardens in Regents Park are already looking beautiful and I love walking around the rose garden and the Avenue gardens.

This weekend the areas near the lake looked like it had just snowed as they were covered in a gorgeous carpet of daisies…….

There are lots of fun things to do in Regents Park. When the weather is really warm and sunny I love taking the papers, a picnic and spending the day in the deck chairs which are very reasonable to rent at a couple of quid for 3 hours or £7-ish for the day. The Open Air Theatre is also great, it runs in the summer (May to Sept) and shows different productions each year- usually Shakespeare. Remember to take blankets though because when I’ve been in the past it was freezing!!!

This weekend I came across a new attraction which definitely wasn’t there last summer- a huge trapeze! Gorilla Circus have set up their trapeze just near the Primrose Hill entrance to Regents Park and they are running trapeze and tightrope classes until September. Get booking- it looks super fun (and a little scary)!

The best thing after a long walk in the park is definitely the ice cream. Gelato Mio makes some of the best ice cream in London and the St John’s Wood branch is dangerously close to Regents Park. It’s pretty much impossible to not un-do all of your good work exercising in the park. Enjoy x

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The proof is in the (Gü) pudding

Thanks to the lovely people at Gü going back to work after the bank holiday weekend was a little bit less painful.

runs an online competition called an office drop where if you have more than 100 people in your office you can enter to win an office supply of Gü puddings. I get the impression if you enter it’s pretty easy to ‘win’, I know quite a few people who have had this at their office and we won 2 days after we entered!

So the  delivery men came to our office on Tuesday with a (literal) truck load of delicious puddings!

It definitely brought a bit of excitement to the office because lets face it, who doesn’t love free stuff! (I definitely do…)

Enter NOW- you’ll probably win too!

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Movie Monday

Because the London bank holiday weather was so stellar (5 weeks of rain and counting) we decided to go and check out the docu-film ‘Being Elmo- A Puppeteer’s Journey’ about Kevin Clash aka Elmo.

I have to admit that the movie originally appealed due to my childhood love of Sesame Street and because Elmo is so super cute, but also because I had seen Kevin Clash being interviewed a few times in the past and thought he was a pretty funny guy too.

The film follows Kevin’s journey from his childhood in Baltimore where he was really into making puppets (somehow the film manages to make that not seem as weird as it sounds) through to him eventually joining Sesame Street and creating the character of Elmo which went on to become a world wide phenomenon (remember the ‘Tickle Me Elmo’ craze?!).

The film is narrated by Whoopi Goldberg and has won a shed-load of awards at various film festivals recently. Watching it made it easy to see why- it was by far the best film I had watched in recent months and is definitely a feel good film.

Considering how great the film was, it’s really sad that it’s only playing in a few London cinemas. We went to see it at the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square, which claims to be London’s best value cinema. It was actually quite cheap at £10 a ticket, or £7 if you’re a member there, and even better it was also really old fashioned and cute inside. It doesn’t always play the big blockbuster new releases so you can often catch classic and indie films there. To add to it’s awesomeness, if you check in on foursquare when you’re there you get a free small popcorn (which my boyfriend insisted we get, in addition to the large one we had just purchased…). Enjoy x

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Sushi Sunday

Atari-Ya is a Japanese supermarket with quite a few branches across London, they also have a fantastic sushi restaurant which happens to be less than 5 mins walk from our home. A sushi dinner is always a welcomed idea in our flat, especially on a Sunday night with no work the next day 🙂

The food at Atari-Ya is seriously tasty and seriously good value for the quality, so its not surprising that they are pretty much always fully booked. You can usually get a reservation if you call head but as a 2 we often end up eating at the sushi counter. Personally I don’t really mind this, especially as the sushi chefs here are serious about their craft so its awesome to be able to watch them work.

Sushi and Sashimi is really what this place is about- my favs are the negi toro, salmon skin, spider crab and prawn tempura rolls. My boyfriend happened to know one of the sushi chefs working (foodie connections…) who really kindly popped a bit of extra sashimi on our platter. The tuna belly sashimi in particular was INCREDIBLE- try it!

Considering it’s meant to be a sushi restaurant the hot foot here is also great- yummy ebi tempura and the miso aubergine is delish! We ate loads (probably too much…) and it was £45 which I think is really reasonable for such high quality and delicious food. Enjoy x

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