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The Great Australian Lamington

The Great Australian Lamington
Lord Lamington Governor of Queensland - creator of the world-famous Australian Lamington.

The Humble Australian Lamington - Created in Queensland in 1901


Australian Lamington
THE WORLD-FAMOUS AUSTRALIAN CULINARY ICON NAMED AFTER THE GOVERNOR OF QUEENSLAND - LORD LAMINGTON.

The world-famous Australian lamington is over a century old.

Despite some dubious claims from New Zealand, the lamington is as Australian as meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars, ranking alongside the other true Australian icons of the pavlova, peach melba and Vegemite.

This Australian culinary icon, which consists of sponge cake dipped in chocolate and liberally sprinkled with fine desiccated coconut, was created through an accident at work by a maid-servant to Lord Lamington, the thoroughly-British eighth Governor of Queensland.

The maid-servant was working at Government House in Brisbane when she accidentally dropped the Governor's favourite sponge cake into some melted chocolate.

Lord Lamington was not a person of wasteful habits and suggested that it be dipped in coconut to cover the chocolate to avoid messy fingers.

Paul Tully celebrates
the 100th anniversary
of the world renowned
Australian lamington
on 19 December 2001
Lord Lamington devoured this new taste sensation with great delight and the maid-servant's error was proclaimed a magnificent success by all! The Governor however is on the record as calling them "those bloody poofy woolly biscuits".

Lord Lamington was born in London, England on 29 July 1860 as Charles Wallace Alexander Napier COCHRANE-BAILLIE holding the aristocratic title of Baron Lamington.

He was Governor of Queensland from 9 April 1896 to 19 December 1901.

After leaving Queensland, he went on to become the Governor of Bombay in India for 4 years. He died at Lamington House, Lanarkshire, Scotland, in 1940.

According to Hansard page 728 at the Australian Constitutional Convention in Canberra on 11 February 1998, Cr Paul Tully, an elected delegate representing "Queenslanders for a Republic" suggested that his extensive research of the Governors of the 6 Australian colonies and states had produced evidence of only "one, single, solitary, positive achievement of any Governor since the First Fleet arrived in 1788" and that was Lord Lamington's contribution to the culinary delights of the Australian nation!

Lord Lamington served Queensland for 5 years but despite all of his colonial, aristocratic pomp and ceremony, the only thing which Charles Wallace Alexander Napier COCHRANE-BAILLIE will ever be remembered for in Australia is the creation of the world-famous lamington.

PAUL TULLY'S TRUE-BLUE DELICIOUS AUSSIE LAMINGTON RECIPE

INGREDIENTS
3 eggs
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup self-raising flour 1/2 cup milk.

Beat the eggs well, gradually adding the sugar until dissolved. Add the milk and vanilla essence and then stir in the self raising flour and whip the butter into the mixture. Pour the mixture into a cake tin or lamington baking dish and bake in a moderate oven of 180 degrees Celsius for 35 minutes. Allow the cake to cool for at least 10 minutes and then stand for 24 hours preferably in the refrigerator, before applying the icing.

THE CHOCOLATE ICING
4 cups icing sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons boiling water
3 cups desiccated coconut.

Stir the cocoa and icing sugar vigorously in a large bowl, adding the milk, butter and boiling water, warming the chocolate mixture over a very low heat until it has a smooth creamy texture. Cut the sponge cake into equal squares about 5cm x 5cm and, using a fork or thin skewer, dip each piece into the chocolate mixture ensuring that the mixture is liberally and evenly applied. Dip each piece into the desiccated coconut, allowing the lamingtons to cool on a wire tray for several hours.

THEN SIT BACK, RELAX AND SAVOUR THE DELIGHTS OF YESTERYEAR COURTESY OF LORD LAMINGTON'S ABSENT-MINDED MAID-SERVANT!

THANK GOD, THE LAMINGTON WAS NOT CHRISTENED THE "COCHRANE-BAILLIE". IMAGINE ASKING FOR A "COCHRANE-BAILLIE" IN A CAKE SHOP!


Do you have an interesting historical anecdote about the Australian lamington?
Please email the Australian Lamington Official Website.


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A short history of Lamingtons - Invented by a Frenchman?

The mystery of the Australian Lamington deepens!

It shouldn't really be surprising that the lamington was invented by a Frenchman. Predictable, but deeply unsettling. After all, facing of the primacy of French cuisine, how could we find a food culture of our own? Australians could draw proudly on few dishes as a national icon.

Pies were invented by the Poms, as was ‘fish and chips’. Sausage rolls are German, and Bolognese is molto Italiano. Even the pavlova isn’t ours – like Crowded House and Russel Crowe, it’s from New Zealand.

So I had high hopes pinned on the lamington, that quintessentially Australian treat. For it’s not just Australian: it’s from Queensland!

It was a particularly hot summer in 1900, and Brisbane sweltered under a blanket of dank humidity. The Governor, Charles Cochrane-Baillie, 2nd Baron of Lamington, departed for his country house in Toowomba, cradling a dim hope that the mountains would provide some relief. He and Lady Lamington brought their staff along, including their renown chef Armand Gallad.

As was the fashion, myriad guests arrived to visit, and the Governor’s household put on great entertainment. Chef Gallad was kept busy baking and grilling in the kitchen, striving to feed the gourmet hordes.

One afternoon, in an effort to create a novel high tea, he dipped some leftover sponge cake into a light chocolate sauce, then rolled the resulting cakes in coconut. The effect was simple, but very elegant, and decidedly delicious.

Lord Lamington 1896
Lord Lamington was impressed, almost as much as his guests. Several of the society ladies in attendance requested the recipe for this delectable new treat, and the chef, suitable chuffed, obliged. Next month, the recipe was published in the Queensland Ladies Home Journal, attributed as ‘Lady Lamington’s Chocolate-Coconut Cake’, soon after known by its diminutive, the lamington.

Today there are significant variations in the lamingtons you’ll find around Australia. In Queensland they are still made in the traditional way, while in Victoria and South Australia they are filed with jam. In WA, bakers slice the finished cake in half and fill it with mock cream. But for any version the key remains that you must start with a perfectly light sponge cake, and a chocolate syrup of the right consistency.

If you’ve never made a lamington before, then here’s your chance. Wednesday July 21st is National Lamington Day. To be honest, I’m unsure what it is celebrating, other than the lamington itself. But as any lamington aficionado will tend you, that’s a great festival in its own right.

Not entirely Aussie? Perhaps. But that’s the great thing about our fantastic country – we take the best of everywhere, and make them our own.

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