L is for Lamingtons . . .

Ah . . . lamington. The word makes me smile. I just enjoy the sound of it. Fun and sophistication all rolled in one.

Which is exactly what a lamington is. It’s the rogue sister to the French petit-fours. Still retaining some elegance, but saying . . . “Pwaa!!! Who needs pastel pink and green and yellow fondant with teeny tiny flowers when you can be bathed in chocolate and coconut like me?” Or something to that effect.

A lamington is a little dessert cake which has its origins in Australia. It’s made up of squares of sponge cake that are coated first in a layer of chocolate icing and then lightly rolled in desiccated coconut. Sometimes (like when I make them), the squares are cut in half lengthwise and a layer of lemon curd or strawberry or raspberry jam is snuck in the center before the chocolate bath. I’ve also taken a little melon baller and hollowed out the center so there is more room for the filling. I know. I’m a rebel.
The chocolate coating is a thin mixture, and is absorbed into the outermost layers of the sponge where it sets. The cubes are then covered with coconut and left to set.
Most believe lamingtons are named after Lord Lamington, who served as Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901, and resemble the homburg hats he favoured. It is thought Lamingtons’ chef Armand Gallad (who was French-born and missed his beloved petit-fours, was woken in the middle of the night to provide something to feed unexpected guests. According to the local newspaper at the time, Chef Gallad cut up some leftover French vanilla sponge cake, dipped the slices in chocolate and set them in coconut. Before Federation in 1901, coconut was not widely used in either European or Australian cooking. But Chef Gallad had a secret weapon. His wife was from Tahiti, where coconut was a common ingredient. Lady Lamingtons’ guests, ever enthralled with anything exotic, asked for the recipe.
The alternative claim is that Gallad, still half asleep at being woken so abruptly …. 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.
Ironically, Lord Lamington was believed to have hated the dessert cakes that had been named in his honour, referring to them as "those bloody poofy woolly biscuits".
Today lamingtons are sold in Australia and South Africa by youth groups in much the same way Boy Scouts and Girl Guides sell cookies in North America, and are called “Lamington Drives”. They are also sold at church bake sales and school fundraisers. The packages are usually boxes with a dozen squares.
Friday July 21, 2006 was designated as National Lamington Day in Australia.

·         2 cups of all-purpose flour
·         2 tsp of baking powder
·         1/4 tsp of sea salt
·         2 large eggs
·         1/2 cup of room temperature butter
·         3/4 cup of white sugar
·         1 tsp of pure vanilla extract
·         1/2 cup of milk
·         2 cups of icing sugar
·         1/3 cup of cocoa powder
·         3 tbs of butter
·         1/2 cup of milk
·         lemon curd (optional)
·         strawberry or raspberry jam (optional)
·         whipped cream for serving

Make the sponge cake
  1. Preheat oven to 375° F (180° C).
  2. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.
  3. Whisk cream and sugar. Beat eggs and add, one by one, together with a tablespoon of flour each time.
  4. Fold in remaining flour.
  5. Transfer batter to a prepared 8” square cake pan. If you divide the cake dough between 2 smaller pans it will bake faster.
  6. Bake in middle shelf for minutes to 1 hour to 1¼ hours - 45 minutes to 1 hour if using 2 pans.

Make the icing
  1. Sift sugar and cocoa into a small bowl.
  2. Add butter and water and mix until smooth.
  3. Stand the bowl inside another larger bowl with hot water until the butter has melted and the icing is fairly runny.

Finish the cakes
  1. Cut the sponge cake into squares.
  2. Refrigerate the squares for at least two hours so that they become firm. If filling with jam or lemon curd, fill squares before refrigeration.
  3. Coat the cake squares with icing, then roll in coconut.
  4. Let them cool on a sheet of grease proof paper.
  5. Store in an air tight container for up to five days.
Or, if you are short on time, you could follow the Quick & Easy Lamingtons recipe over at Coles Australia. 
And isn't this Lamington Express train adorable for a little tyke's birthday party?

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