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‘MasterChef Australia’ Tried To Tell Us This Was A Lamington When It Clearly Is Not

It might have been better to call the dish "wow raspberry thing" or "sweet food meal".

MasterChef Australia Season 11

Last night, MasterChef Australia did the MasterChef Australia thing where they reinvent a dish so much that it becomes something entirely different. If there’s one thing this show knows how to do, it’s unnecessarily complicating already perfect foods.

In one of the last Pressure Tests of season 11, poor unfortunate souls Anushka, Nicole and Prince Harry were tasked with replicating a confection dreamt up by chef Ashley Palmer-Watts.

A collaborator of Heston Blumenthal’s, Palmer-Watts is one of those infuriating chefs that makes things way harder than they have to be. This episode’s four-hour “Lamington Cake” was no exception.

Traditionally, a lamington is a simple cube of sponge cake, rolled in chocolate sauce and dipped in desiccated coconut. Sometimes they are filled with whipped cream or raspberry jam. Always they are eaten with your hands. A lamington is a humble delight, the stuff of primary school fundraisers and suburban bakeries.

In contrast, Palmer-Watts’ description of his “lamington” began with a chocolate biscuit base and ended with “a raspberry and lemon myrtle sorbet”. These are two things that have no place in a classic lamington.

The lamington is emblematic of childhood. It is sticky fingers, innocent joy and chocolate-smeared cheeks. None of that can be found in the Lamington Cake, whose refined restraint is the antithesis of a lamington.

Matt Preston called Palmer-Watts’ dish “a modern, elegant, technically intricate reinvention of an Australian classic”. Prince Harry called it “gorgeous”. Twitter called it unrecognisable.

There isn’t much point in reinventing a dish unless you make it better, and it seems many are unconvinced Palmer-Watts’ “Lamington Cake” is in any way an improvement.

The dessert would likely have been more warmly received had Palmer-Watts not invited the lamington comparisons. Naming it something like “wow raspberry thing” or “sweet food meal” would have allowed people to focus on what the dish is rather than what it isn’t.

It was almost fitting that warm, lovely Anushka was the one to fall to this stately lamington impostor. English being her third language, she struggled with reading the lengthy, technical Pressure Test recipe. The judges found Anushka’s biscuit too hard and she failed to include the raspberry gel, sadly resulting in her exile from the MasterChef kitchen.


Amanda Yeo is a Sydney-based writer, lawyer and MasterChef enthusiast who still thinks Reynold should have gotten an immunity pin for his 30/30 dessert in season seven. Follow her on Twitter: @amandamyeo.