Birthday Lamingtons and Happy Australia Day!!

Three weeks into my 52 week challenge and already I find myself behind! That’s what happens when you try to juggle a full time job with a three hour daily commute, a Northampton Saints rugby season ticket, a love of travel and a resemblance of a social life!! Heaven knows what will happen when I embark on my three week holiday to Peru later in the year. Maybe I can add pisco flavour cupcakes to my list!!

Anyway as usual I digress! Is my birthday this week, and as a young 31 year old to be I decided to try lamingtons for the office tradition of buying birthday cakes. On a small side note I have never fully understood this concept – it’s my birthday so why must I bring the cake?!?

Again I digress. So back to lamingtons. They originate from Australia and are still popular there and also in New Zealand and South Africa. In fact today is Australia Day (January 26th) and they will be popular additions to celebrations! They are mainly a vanilla sponge cake but you can also get lemon and raspberry versions and some even come sliced in half with cream and jam in the centre. The history of the lamington appears to have several stories but all seem to agree that the name came from Lord Lamington, who served as Governor of Queensland between 1896 and 1901. There are two popular versions of this story. Firstly that Lord Lamington’s French born chef Armand Gallad was called upon at short notice to provide something for unexpected guests in the lead up to the Federation in 1901. So he cut up leftover vanilla sponge from the previous day, dipped it in chocolate and then set it in coconut. Coconut wasnt widely used at this time but Gallad was married to a woman from Tahiti were coconut was a popular ingredient. Another story, and my favourite, states that Lamington’s cook, which may or may not be Gallad, accidentally dropped a block of sponge cake into a dish of chocolate and then coconut was added to make the cake more appealing and cover up the accident! The first mention of lamingtons appears to be in January 1902. 21 July 2006 and thereafter became National Lamington Day in Australia as they are so popular and later that year in September 2006 the lamington was named one of Queensland’s favourite icons. (sourced from Wikipedia).

And so to the baking. Lamingtons seemed fairly straightforward. I baked my usual Hummingbird Bakery vanilla sponge cake (need to amend this recipe in future as I do find it too buttery when I use Lurpak spreadable).  Once the square cake had cooled I divided it into equal squares. I must confess the day I made lamingtons I had my parents around so had made a full roast dinner and apple and blackberry crumble and it was gone 9pm when I eventually came to decorate my lamingtons so I wouldn’t say the squares were of equal size. The Country Women’s Association (CWA) in Australia state they should be 5cm but this differs.

Now comes the messy part. In researching recipes for lamingtons I found Donna Hay’s recipe the simplest to follow. A mixture of icing (confectioner’s) sugar, cocoa powder, melted butter and boiling water. I probably added 50-100ml more water as my icing was too thick to the coat the cake squares but this was then a bit too runny. I enrolled my boyfriend in a simple production line. He dips a cake square in chocolate whilst I prepare another cake square. He then gives me the chocolate coated cake square and takes the un-coated square to dip in the chocolate whilst I dip the chocolate coated cake square in dessicated coconut before transferring to a wire rack to dry. End result was a kitchen surface (and me) coated in chocolate and coconut!!! oh and 20 or so lamingtons to take to the office. Unfortunately this tale has an unhappy ending as due to the bad weather and snow we had down in Sussex I never made it into Brighton and instead worked from my boyfriend’s office who were happy to benefit from Brighton’s loss.



1 Comment

  1. January 29, 2013 / 9:06 pm

    Wow those Lamingtons look amazing. we are going to give them a go this weekend with a production line of me, daughter & hubbie – can predict lots of mess!! Wil let you know how we got on.

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