Categories:Australian Baking Cakes HIstory Dessert Recipes Food HIstory Historical Cakes New Zealand
Lamington Cake is an Australian dessert of little cubes or squares of sponge cake, dipped in chocolate, then rolled in coconut. The word lamington means layers of beaten gold.
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. Lamingtons can be made with homemade cake, leftover cake, or store bought cake.
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 did not 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:
One 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 is 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 much loved.)
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.