When I was a kid my grandmother used to make lamingtons for St Patrick’s Day. She’d add a bit of green food colouring to the sponge, and so when you bit into the normal-looking lamington, you would uncover a bright green surprise. It was pretty special.
These days, I’m the one making lamingtons, and all sorts of other classic hits, whenever a special occasion rolls around. Whether it’s pavlova at Christmas, Hot Cross Buns at Easter, ANZAC biscuits on, well, Anzac Day, or scones for the Queen’s Birthday (I don’t need an excuse for high tea, but that is a good one) I am all over it.
I also don’t think all desserts are created equal, so here’s my list of the top six Australian sweet treats, ranked from best to not-quite-as-best-but-still-bloody-awesome.
6. ANZAC biscuits
I probably started a war with this one didn’t I? Look, I love a good ANZAC biscuit. Oats, butter, sugar, coconut, golden syrup. You can’t go wrong. Except you can. You definitely can, and a dry ANZAC biscuit is the saddest, most unpatriotic eating experience you can find.
When in doubt? Add more butter. A good ANZAC biscuit is worth fighting for though, which is why they managed to make the list.
5. Vanilla slice
Ah, the snot block. These vanilla custard treats are a right bugger to make, but when you get the alchemy of fluffy crisp buttery pastry sandwiching thick, sweet custard, you are onto a winner. And even when they aren’t great, they are usually still good, which is why they beat out the ANZAC biscuit.
Plus these babies are basically the signal you are on a summer road trip, passing through a small town and stopping for a chocolate milk, a sausage roll with tomato sauce, and a vanilla slice to keep you going for the next 600 kilometres. Long live the vanilla slice.
"These babies are basically the signal you are on a summer road trip." Image: iStock.
4. Pumpkin scones
I'm a Queenslander, so even though I'm no fan of the Bjelke-Petersen family, I am a sucker for a pumpkin scone. Sweet, but a little bit savoury, more character than a plain scone, less in your face than a fruit scone, the pumpkin scone is perfect just out of the oven, slathered in butter and topped off with jam and cream.
I don't think you need a special occasion to whip up a batch of these babies, which makes them even better.
3. Hot Cross Buns
A few years ago I found a recipe for apple and cinnamon hot cross buns and I decided to give it a try. They were delicious. Hot, fluffy, spicy, perfection. I am not sure that hot cross buns are technically an "Aussie" food (read: they definitely are not) but they are available in Coles and Woolworths even on Boxing Day, so that's basically the same right?
"Toast them up and slather them in butter." Image: supplied.
Anyway, I used to have a housemate who would buy hot cross buns from the first day they were available, until the post-Easter sale, and hoard them in the freezer. Sometimes, when we would come home from something drunk and hungry, we would bust them out, toast them up and slather them in butter. Even Nigella Lawson isn't eating a better midnight snack, I promise.
Is it possible to have a school fete, an election or Australia Day without lamingtons? No. As I mentioned above, they are also a great St Patrick's Day treat because the sponge is so easily coloured green to keep up with the festivities.
There is nothing better than a fresh, spongy, chocolate soaked lamington. I am a purist, so I'm not big on lamingtons with cream in the middle, I just like a traditional block of chocolate and coconut dipped sponge, but each to their own I guess.
Is there any other way this countdown could have ended? No. No there is not. Because there is not a family gathering, national holiday or dinner party that isn't improved by a pav. They are endlessly versatile, delicious and decadent, and actually pretty easy to make.
My top pavlova tip: Don't just dress it with whipped cream and fruit - make a lemon, lime or passionfruit curd with the leftover egg yolks and whack that on top as well. It's an extra layer of tangy deliciousness, and it also uses up the yolks left behind when you make the meringue. You're welcome.
"Is there any other way this countdown could have ended?" Image: iStock.
So there you go, the best Australian sweets ranked. One of my friends recently made an Iced VoVo slice, and I'm sure if that gains widespread acclaim it's the kind of thing that might end up on this list. The truth is I could probably make a top 40 list. But six will have to do for now.
What do you think, did I get it right? Share your fave Aussie sweet below.
This post was written thanks to our brand partner Western Star.
Western Star has been part of the Western Farming District of Victoria for 90 years. We’ve grown from the belief that the best things in life are simple, and that happiness is found in smaller moments with good family, friends and food.
This year we celebrate 90 years of turning simple ingredients into moments of simple happiness.
Western Star, it’s that simple.