A Lamington is a sponge cake in the shape of a cuboid, coated in a layer of traditionally chocolate icing then desiccated coconut. Lamingtons are sometimes served as two halves with a layer of cream and/or strawberry jam between, and are commonly found in Australasian outlets such as cafes, lunch bars, bakeries, and supermarkets. The raspberry variety is more common in New Zealand, while a lemon variety has been encountered in Australia.
The chocolate coating is a thin mixture, into which cubes of sponge cake (one cookbook states 4 cm per side) are dipped, and the chocolate is absorbed into the outermost layers of the sponge where it sets. (Similarly, the strawberry jam or chocolate icing is absorbed into the sponge.) The cubes are then covered with coconut and left to set.
They have traditionally been popular as fund raisers for Australian youth groups such as Scouts, Guides and churches to the extent that such fund raisers are called "Lamington drives".
The cake is supplied by commercial bakeries in large slabs and cut into about 40 mm cubes. Teams of volunteers work together, dipping the cake into the chocolate icing and rolling it in the coconut. Generally they are packaged up into one dozen lots for distribution within communities which have been solicited for orders ahead of time. Commercially produced versions are also sold.
Friday 21 July 2006 was designated as National Lamington Day in Australia.
In September 2006, the National Trust of Queensland named the Lamington one of Queensland's favourite icons.
The Lamington is named after Lord Lamington, who served as Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901. According to legend, Lamingtons were first served in Toowoomba when Lord Lamington took his entourage to Harlaxton House to escape the steamy heat of Brisbane. The Lamingtons' chef at Queensland's Government House, Armand Gallad, was called upon at short notice to provide something to feed unexpected guests. According to the Melbourne Age newspaper, Gallad cut up some left over French vanilla sponge cake baked the day before, dipped the slices in chocolate and set them in coconut (an ingredient not widely used in European cooking at that time). Lady Lamington's guests then asked for the recipe.
Another account claims the dessert resembled the homburg hats favoured by Lord Lamington. A further alternative origin is that Lord Lamington's cook, presumably Gallad, accidentally dropped a block of sponge cake into a dish of chocolate. Later on it was discovered to be very nice with desiccated coconut sprinkled over the top.
Ironically, Lord Lamington was believed to have hated the dessert that had been named in his honour, referring to them as "those bloody poofy woolly biscuits".
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