A gluten free lamington sponge and the dog ate my homework

Australia Day had arrived. Kid 1 and myself decided to bake something in the spirit of the day. (Why not heat up the kitchen on an already hot and hazy day?) We decided upon a cake version of the iconic Aussie lamington. The perfect opportunity to try out a gluten free sponge recipe the Mothership had given me. Most accounts state that this dessert was named after Lord Lamington, a governor of Queensland in the 1800’s. It is also much loved in the country of my birth, New Zealand. My maternal grandmother adored these dipped in chocolate and coconut square sponges, particularly when they were sandwiched with raspberry jam and fresh cream.

Kid 1 was a keen apprentice, cracking eggs and jokes like the best of them. The sponge rose to the heavens and all was well with the world. Due to the days increasing heat, we decided to cool the cake downstairs. It was proudly placed on a chest of drawers near the stairs, which seemed like a good idea at the time. Half an hour went by and off I trotted to check the cake. The once magnificent, feather light sponge now had huge chunks missing from the side and there was a Hansel and Gretel trail of crumbs around the base of the stairs. Roaring in dismay, I looked up to see our dogger Elvis, standing there, guilty crumbs still attached to his fluffy bearded face. He had cleverly managed to squish his doggy snout in between the stair banisters and reach the cake.

So, yes, the dog ate my homework. No photos were taken of this once glorious behemoth on that day. (Well, except for one iPhone photo.) We cut off the dog slobbered upon portions, sliced it and added jam, cream, the icing and coconut. It was still delicious, if only half the cake it should have been.

Kid 1 and myself remade this cake a few days later and whilst it was not quite as glorious looking as the first, Kid 1 stated that it was lighter and fluffier. In terms of a cloud like sponge, this easy recipe ticks all the boxes. You do not need to separate the eggs, nor does it require any fancy gluten free flour blend. The Yak was just pleased to be given two gluten free cakes in one week. Whereas our wee canine friend should count his lucky stars he got to enjoy any at all.


Just a quick note on sponge baking. It’s vital to ensure that your eggs are at room temperature. Cold eggs do not hold the same volume of air as a warmer egg will and do not whip up as well. Sifting your dry ingredients twice is a good idea and never open the oven door before the minimum cooking time is up or your sponge will sink.

4 eggs at room temperature
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup cornflour plus 1 extra tablespoon of cornflour
1 1/2 tsps baking powder (gluten free)
Raspberry or strawberry jam
250 ml cream, whipped
1 cup icing sugar (gluten free)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp butter, melted
Boiling water
1/4 cup desiccated coconut for sprinkling on top of the finished sponge

Preheat oven to 180C (170C fan-forced) and line a 24cm springform baking tin with nonstick baking paper. (You can also use two lined individual sandwich tins.)
In a large bowl, using a mixer (I used my stand mixer) beat the eggs until frothy. Gradually add the sugar until the mixture is pale, creamy and thick and holds its shape. This process can take up to ten minutes. (Which is why a stand mixer is handy.)
Sift the cornflour and baking powder into a medium sized bowl.
Sift half of the cornflour mixture over the egg mixture and fold it in gently, then sift the remaining cornflour mixture into the bowl and fold it in gently.
Pour the mixture into the tins (or tins). If you are using the bigger tin, bake for 25-35 minutes until light, golden and the cake springs back to the touch. (Smaller sandwich tins take 15-20 minutes.)
Let the cake stand for five minutes then remove onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Icing: Sift the icing sugar and cocoa together into a medium sized bowl. Add the melted butter, then slowly add boiling hot water, mixing until the icing is a smooth, coating consistency.
Assembling: Slice the sponge in half, add a thick layer of jam on the bottom layer, goop on mounds of delicious cream (as much or as little as you fancy) and whack the other half of the sponge on top.
Drizzle the chocolate icing over the top, then sprinkle generously with the coconut.
Eat some. You won’t regret it.

Cooking Notes: having made this cake twice now, next time we will make a chocolate ganache instead of icing. Just to make it even more decadent.

A Cheergerm adaptation of a recipe my Mum gave me


‘The Camping Collective’ does not starve. As time went on, two peeps undertook a trip to the local Seafood Co-op. The mighty hunters returned with a glorious ocean bounty. (Via the refrigerators of the Co-Op.) They had procured plump Sydney rock oysters, a slurpy minerally mouthful that we topped with a squeeze of lemon. A motza of green local prawns in their shells were tossed in oil, seasoned and barbecued. It was no hardship to partake in one of two of these juicy crustaceans. The icing on this seafood cake was a school of uber fresh flathead. Sister 4 lightly tossed these glistening beauties in seasoned cornflour (necessity is the mother of all invention) and they fried up a treat on the flat grill of the barbecue. Lip smackingly sweet and juicy.

Vegetables were also consumed. Crunchy green salads, coleslaw and one of our number made a simple white cabbage dish that hearkened back to her childhood. It was very finely sliced then dressed with lashings of lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper. Simply moreish.

Whilst we love to cook on our camping holidays it is a welcome relief to eat out and more importantly, not wash up. There was a lovely feed at Thai On the Rocks, we sat outside in balmy surrounds, sipping icy cold rose and perusing the vast menu. One of my favourite dishes was a deliciously creamy chicken panang and The Yak raved about a gigantic plate of stir-fried vegetables with chilli.

After our meal, sans kidlets, some of us sneaked off for a delicious post dinner gin and tonic at the Seabreeze Hotel. During dinner, we had found out that the marvellous David Bowie, the iconic Ziggy and Starman, had succumbed to the cursed cancer that has taken so many. His music speaks for itself and as an actor, he shone in ‘Labyrinth’ and ‘Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence’. We were all admirers or fans but Sister 3, perhaps, loved him the most. Over our icy cold drinks, we toasted his passing. His loss ominously highlighted the ongoing health battle of one of our nearest and dearest. And the cut was deeper. That evening, gazing at a crystal clear night sky, I imagined that I whispered ‘Farewell beautiful Starman, you really blew my mind.’

An early morning beach walk along hard sands and by azure waters to Trial Bay was rewarded with breakfast at the Trial Bay Kiosk and Licensed Restaurant. The Yak and I both had the haloumi stack with pesto, spinach and poached eggs topped with avocado. Mine was perched atop a crunchy slice of sourdough rye and The Yaks was served with gluten free toast. The Yak headily proclaimed this one of the best breakfasts he had ever eaten. Mine was very tasty, despite feeling slightly ripped off by the tiny amount of avocado. The coffee here is velvety, rich and smooth, I have no idea what their brand of coffee was. Shamefully, this Cheergerm will never make it to the lofty echelons of a true hipster.

Towards the end of our last week, we booked dinner at the Seabreeze Hotel where the food impressed and delighted. My linguine with prawns, chilli and basil was seriously good. Fat juicy prawns, perfectly cooked pasta and just a nice backbite of heat. The night was topped off by The Polish Stepfather winning a nice big meat tray. A true Aussie tradition.

More than anything, my hope is that camping provides our children with the experience of a simplified existence, of learning to be part of a communal group, to compromise and co-operate. To forgo television and play card games again. To dive into frothy waves unfettered by the multiple trappings of everyday life. This Australia Day, whilst I will be present wherever I am, a small section of my heart and mind will be back in South West Rocks. Enjoying the truly egalitarian pleasures of this vast nations amazing beaches and natural beauty.





Cicada’s buzz, the heat shimmers on the tents and children play endless rounds of Uno.

The rain has left and summer is once more upon us.  Twenty eight degree days allow for fun filled beach activities and the evenings are cool enough for  sleep.

Sets of white tipped waves swell and crash against us, they are stronger than they look. Ice-creams and potato cakes from the Horseshoe Bay Kiosk rule the day.

Our camping collective eat well. Whether it be a slow roasted shoulder of lamb, a myriad of crunchy corn fritters , carnival coloured coleslaw, a mound of roast potatoes or fresh white bread rolls laden with bacon and egg.

Time slows and it is good to just stop.












Even Cheergerms need a little holiday

Just a wee note to say gidday and to wish all and sundry a Happy New Year. We are off on a camping trip for the next little while. Some may say our holiday collective ‘glamps’ and those people may or may not be correct. I suppose it depends on your perspective.

I leave you with a little pictorial insight into our Christmas and Boxing Day celebrations, which were held at Sister Two’s lovely family abode this year. Good times indeed.

Our camping destination is South West Rocks, a little piece of beachside heaven on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales. If the muse hits me slap on the side of the head with a piece of nice fresh fish, there may even be the odd brief holiday missive as well. Until the next time we meet, lang may yer lum reek.