|Place of origin||Brisbane|
|Main ingredients||Icing, desiccated coconut, sugar|
|Cookbook: Lamington Media: Lamington|
A lamington is an Australian dessert or snack, typically made with squares of sponge cake coated in an outer layer of chocolate sauce and rolled in desiccated coconut. The thin chocolate mixture is absorbed into the outside of the sponge cake and left to set, resulting in the cake's distinctive texture. A common variation has a layer of cream or strawberry jam between two lamington halves. Smaller, thinner "lamington fingers" are typically available at supermarkets, and more recently, varieties substituting the chocolate coating for lemon or raspberry icing have also become available.
Lamingtons remain a popular snack across Australia and New Zealand, as well as other parts of the world, such as South Africa, and Cleveland in the United States. Lamingtons are common products at supermarkets, cafes and bakeries.
There are many varied accounts regarding the creation of the lamington, however most agree that it was named after Lord Lamington, who served as Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901. Other claims suggest it may have been named for his wife, or even the village of Lamington, South Lanarkshire in Scotland, from which the Lord Lamington's title originates. The earliest known reference to the naming of the lamington from June 1927, links the cake to Lord Lamington.
Beyond the Lamington's namesake, the exact origins of the cake are still debated. Most stories attribute the it creation to Lord Lamington's chef, the French born Armand Galland, who was called upon at short notice to feed unexpected guests. Using only the limited ingredients available, Galland cut up some left-over French vanilla sponge cake baked the day before, dipped the slices in chocolate and set them in coconut. So impressed by Galland's creation, Lamington's guests were said to have later asked for the recipe. Coconut was not widely used in European cooking at that time, but was known to Galland whose wife was from Tahiti where coconut was a common ingredient.
One such account suggests that the lamington was first served in Toowoomba, when Lord Lamington took his entourage to Harlaxton House to escape the steamy heat of Brisbane, whereas another claims that it was created by Galland at Queensland's Government House in Brisbane during the busy period leading up to Federation in 1901. A further alternative claim is that Lord Lamington's cook, presumably Galland, accidentally dropped a block of sponge cake into a dish of chocolate. It was later discovered that desiccated coconut, sprinkled over the top, made the cakes more appealing.
Most of these claims are based on relatively recent reports. First known mention of "Lamington cake" appears in an 1896 newspaper account of a "Lamington Function" at Laidley in Queensland. The event was in honour of Lord Lamington (although it appears he did not attend) and also featured "Lamington Tea", "Lamington Soup etc, so, in the absence of any description of the cake, the name of the cake might signify nothing more than the name of the event. A 1900 recipe for Lamington Cakes has been found in the Queensland Country Life newspaper. While the recipe appears to originate in Queensland, it spread quickly, appearing in a Sydney newspaper in 1901 and a New Zealand newspaper in 1902. However, none of these recipes indicate the creator of the recipe nor the reason for its name.
It was claimed in 2007 that Lord Lamington himself did not like lamingtons, referring to them as "those bloody poofy woolly biscuits", however no other contemporaneous sources confirming this are known.
Today, mass produced lamingtons can be found in most Australian supermarkets.
Lamingtons are often sold at fundraisers for schools or other youth groups, these are known as "lamington drives". At a lamington drive, the lamingtons were traditionally homemade, however recently, the sponge cake is typically supplied by commercial bakeries in large slabs. Teams of volunteers work together, dipping the cake into the chocolate icing and rolling it in the coconut, before being left to set and be sold.
Friday, 21 July 2006, was designated as National Lamington Day in Australia.
A number of record attempts have been made to make the World's Biggest Lamington. The most recent successful attempt occurred on 11 June 2011 in Toowoomba, Australia, when Quality Desserts and the Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce made a Chocolate Lamington weighing 2,361 kg, setting a new Guinness World Record. Pieces of this record breaking Lamington were cut up and sold to raise money for the local children's hospital foundation. The Quality Desserts record beat a previous record attempt by Ipswich City Council in 2009, which was made during a visit to Australia by Lord Lamington's Great Grandson and Niece. They achieved a weight of 1,320 kg.
South African lamingtons are typically smaller than their Australian counterparts. They are known in Afrikaans as ystervarkies ("hedgehogs").
For many decades, Lamingtons have been popular in Cleveland, USA, where they are usually known as coconut bars. Bakeries in other other cities with many former Clevelanders, such as Los Angeles also make them under other names, including Cleveland bars, and rum bars, which add rum extract to the chocolate icing.
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