Dan's Double Chocolate Lamingtons – too good for lamingtons (dairy-free, soya-free)

The 4 year old asked for chocolate brownies yesterday and I made these instead, she calls herself the “brownie monster” and when I told her I was making chocolate lamingtons not brownies she made that pout face of disapproval but I converted her as soon as I let her try some of the sponge.

It’s a moist light chocolate sponge and it should be made on its own as a cake not just for lamingtons, and having successfully converted this into a dairy-free version it will be a standby chocolate cake in my home.  It’s so easy to make, what I call the muffin-style cake, simply melt the chocolate and add everything in, pour into the tin and bake.  I used 50% cocoa solids chocolate to keep it sweet enough for the kids.

Not been brought up with lamingtons I didn’t know the sponge isn’t suppose to be chocolate but going by the disapproving comments on Dan’s Guardian page here, I certainly know now!  What’s life without a little controversy?

When making these I did wondered if they had to be a certain shape, in the Guardian they appear as squares, I’m not very good at neat square shapes…felt better when Dan confirmed they can be oblong or blocks…phew.


Dan instructs to cover the sponge with foil in order to keep the surface more even, which works.  I should’ve made the foil more dome shaped as in parts it stuck to the surface of the sponge once risen.

You’ll certainly need a deep normal square tin as the cake rises a fair amount, I have a shallower tin I thought of using and grateful I didn’t.

It took longer than an hour in the recipe, this could have been because of the adaptions I’ve made.  If it takes longer don’t be tempted to turn up the temperature.  Mine took in total: 1 hour 25 mins at 150˚C fan.

Dairy-free & Soya-free Adaptations

Dan’s recipe here

  • 300g caster sugar
  • 50g cocoa
  • 75ml milk – used 75g coconut milk below, but rice milk will also work
  • 50g unsalted butter – used 50g dairy-free margarine (salted)
  • 50ml sunflower oil
  • 4 medium eggs – used 3 large eggs plus one egg yolk
  • 100ml low fat yoghurt – used 50g oatly cream

The reason I added an extra egg yolk (and only three large whole eggs) was to compensate for the yoghurt. Cakes with yoghurt are incredibly moist, (my yoghurt cake recipe here still remains the most popular) and adding yolks is another way to add moisture to cakes. Sometimes yoghurt as well as adding moisture will also add acidity against bicarbonate of soda to help with leavening.

Oatly cream is not easy to find in the shops but the very large supermarkets and Waitrose stock it, if you can’t find it leave it out and I would increase the coconut/rice milk by an extra 20 grams.

If you notice I’ve weighed all my wet ingredients. Once you start baking bread and have digital scales it’s easier to do it this way and it’s accurate…I don’t have to read people moaning about it as they do in the Guardian, a luxury I have.


The coconut milk above is not the usual coconut milk you can buy in tins which is quite thick and tastes very coconuty.  This milk is bland and has been a hit with oldest kid and I for all sorts of things like making hot chocolate because the blandness doesn’t interfere with other flavours.

To show how moist the cake is I cut into one below before the chocolate had set.

How Mistakes Are Made

I usually print out the recipe and stick it in front of me like I have below, also helps with writing notes or adjustments.

For the icing I misread the quantity of icing sugar because of the small print.  I added 400g instead of the recipe’s 450g.  This made a huge differences in the icing’s capability to cover the sponge and I photographed it below to show how.

The darker sponges at the back have been coated with icing made with only 400g icing sugar.

The lighter thicker sponges at the front have the correct amount of sugar.

On close up you can see how the thinner icing doesn’t actually coat the sponge properly it runs off the surface.

Every baker should have a little helper to lick the bowl clean.

The coconut I managed to find wasn’t a very good quality one, it was too thick, I would’ve preferred finer one to coat the chocolate better.

These lamingtons were a hit with my friend yesterday who hadn’t eaten one since he visited New Zealand 20 years ago.  The most complicated time consuming part is the coating of the sponge in the icing and then coconut.  I can’t help but get impatient and drip chocolate all over the coconut, that and the dislike I have to make little things I would never make a good pastry chef.