Lamington or Lemmington
The word lamington means layers of beaten gold. An Australian dessert of little
cubes or squares of sponge cake, dipped in chocolate, then rolled in coconut. In Victoria
(State of Australia) they often add a layer of raspberry or plum jam.
They are served with tea in the afternoon. Lamingtons are so popular in Australia that the cakes are a
favorite means of raising money for school groups, churches, and scouts and girl guides. These money making adventure are called Lamington Drives.
The cake is named after Charles Wallace Baillie, Lord
Lamington, the governor of Queensland from 1895 to 1901. Lord Lamington was known for
wearing a homburg hat that looked like the cakes. For many years lamingtons were served on
state ceremonial occasions in Queensland. But Baron Lamington himself could by no means
abide them. He invariably referred to them as those bloody
poofy woolly biscuits. Another source recounts the slightly less dramatic
circumstance of the baron's cook concocting the dessert as a way to use up stale or
slightly burnt sponge cake.
Before 1910, Australian
cookbooks describe the Lamington as a whole cake iced in chocolate and
coconut. Bite-sized lamingtons didn’t appear in cookbooks until a few years
later, giving more impetus to the Lady Lamington story over the Lord Lamington one.
According to Janet Clarkson and her blog
The Old Foodie:
possibility is that the lamington is named after a locality, and there
are three contenders: Lamington village (in Scotland), Leamington Spa
(Warwickshire), and Lemmington (Northumberland). There are recipes for
Leamington cake and puddings in some late Victorian cookbooks which are
layered jam sponge-cake type mixtures, so the lamington could have
developed from these. I hope this does not turn out to be the case, as
it would be a very boring explanation.
According to Jackie French in her article titled Another History of Lamington, February 21, 2008:
It appeared that lamingtons were
invented in Brisbane around the early 1900s, probably by Amy Shauer who
taught cooking at Brisbane central Technical College from 1895 to 1937.
She also wrote three very popular cook books, and developed cookery
courses for schools and colleges across Queensland, and was a famous
cake maker and cake judge at Shows.
It's likely the first lamingtons
were invented in Amy Shauer's cooking class and named after Lady
Lamington, who was the school's patroness and extremely interested in
education for girls. (One elderly correspondent, who remembered those
days well, informed me that Lord Lamington was a pompous ass, and that
no one would ever have named a cake after him. But Lady Lamington was
In Australian, July 21st was designated as National Lamington Day, and now
it is celebrated mainly by charity groups to sell lamingtons to raise money.
The Scots and the New Zealanders also claim credit. The
Scots say it was a sheep shearer's wife in the village of Lamington who made the cake for
a group of traveling sheep shearers.
New Zealanders enjoy lamingtons just as much as the
Australians. They refer to the cake as leamington or lemmington, which are names of towns.
Cuisine: Australia, New Zealand
Yields: 16 servings
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 30 min
2 cups all-purpose
1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
Chocolate Frosting (see recipe below)
Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees F. Place oven rack to middle
position. Either butter or spray the bottom and sides with non-stick cooking spray of an 8-inch square
baking dish; set aside.
large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
another bowl using your electric mixer, beat the butter until soft. Add the
sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating
well after adding each egg addition. Add the vanilla extract to the mixture
and mix well. Use a spatula to alternately
mix in the sifted flour mixture and the milk, in three additions, beginning
and ending with flour.
Spread the batter into the prepared cake dish and smooth the top with a spatula.
Bake approximately 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick
inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven. Let the cake cool in the baking dish for approximately 7 minutes and then
invert it onto a wire rack to let cool.
cake has cooled, cut it into 16 (2-inch squares) and wrap each square of
cake in plastic wrap. Place the cake squares in the refrigerator for at
least 2 hours (more is better).
Hint: You can also freeze the
cake squares. Frozen cake squares are much less crumbly when rolling in the
runny icing. You have to work quickly though because they thaws fast.
To assemble the Lamingtons:
Place some paper
or plastic wrap under the wire racks to catch any dripping frosting.
Place the cake squares on the racks and have your warm Chocolate
Frosting and coconut ready. NOTE: If the frosting starts to
set while using, stand bowl in hot water until frosting thins down.
Quickly spoon or ladle the warm Chocolate Frosting over the chocolate squares, and then let the
cake drain. Coat each cake square on all sides in the Chocolate
Frosting. NOTE: It is best to just do a few cake squares as a time.
Using a small knife or spatula, gently roll each coated cake square in the coconut.
Repeat with remaining cake squares. Set the cakes aside to dry before serving.
Once the Lamingtons have set, store
in an airtight container for several days.
Makes 16 (2-inch) Lamington squares.
4 cups powdered (confectioners) sugar
unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
2 cups unsweetened desiccated coconut*
* It is the white fleshy part of the coconut, which is processed into
smaller shreds or flakes. After being cut or grounded into granules and/or
slices, the coconut pieces are dried to remove maximum moisture from them.
Available at most supermarkets.
Place the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, butter, and milk in a heat-proof bowl over
a saucepan of simmering water. Stir the mixture until it is smooth and
of pouring consistency. Remove from heat. NOTE: You don't want
the liquid to get too thin as the cake won't absorb the frosting properly.