Lamington Cake

The recipe

1 cupful of butter
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of sweet milk
4 eggs
3 cups self-raising flour
teaspoonful of vanilla

Bake in layers after mixing well.

2 tablespoonfuls of butter
about 1/4 lb. icing sugar
about 3 teaspoonfuls cocoa
dessertspoonful of water
teaspoonful essence of vanilla

Cut cake in blocks, spread mixture on it, roll in cocoanut chips.

What to look for in a good lamington:

Chocolate coating that is thick enough to form its own ‘skin’ that can be peeled off the sponge. The chocolate should be dark, and a little bit bitter in its sweetness. The sponge cake is firm, but never dry. For advanced serving options you can provide a sweet, raspberry jam (shop bought ones are almost like donut filling).

Serve with: 
Black tea, sugar, dash of milk if desired.

Lamingtons are usually part of a ‘spread’ of other light snacks such as high-tea style sandwiches, chocolate biscuits, macaroons, or melting moments.

The significance

The Lamington is another dessert that raises contention in Australia. Is it nothing more than bland, dry sponge with annoying coconut, or is it Australia’s culinary gift to the world made of chocolate, coconut and light sponge fluffiness? Its origins are many, although most versions are focused on its ‘accidental’ creation by someone tripping. In one version it is a maid serving Lord Lamington (Governor of Queensland from 1896-1901), who trips and the sponge cake gets into the chocolate. He, apparently, dipped it in shredded coconut to avoid getting chocolate on his fingers. In another version, a clumsy guest at dinner dropped a sponge cake into gravy and then hurled it into a dish of coconut, inspiring his hostess to recreate this accident in chocolate. In other versions it was made in Lamington, or sometimes Leamington, in Scotland by a shearer’s wife.

As exciting as these tales are, it was most likely developed by Armand Galland, the French chef to Lord Lamington, in 1900. Galland’s wife was French Tahitian and so he would be familiar with coconut. Coconut would go on to play an important role in Australian cuisine across the 1920s, but at this point was still quite unusual. Lord Lamington, the Governor of Queensland from 1896-1901 reputedly referred to the cakes as “those bloody, poofy, woolly biscuits.” The debate about where the lamington was created is also long and rather intense that we'll leave to ‘Queensland, somewhere.’