IT'S definitely a dessert Australians call their own. The Lamington consists of squares of sponge cake coated first in a layer of traditionally chocolate sauce, then in desiccated coconut. Lamingtons are sometimes served as two halves with a layer of cream or strawberry jam in between.
While there's some argument over the origin of the Lamington, most food historians believe it was named after Lord Lamington, who served as Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901, although it might have been named for his wife, Lady Lamington.
Legend has it that Lamington's chef, French-born Armand Galland, was called upon at short notice to provide something to feed unexpected guests. He quickly cut up some leftover French vanilla sponge, dipped the slices in chocolate and set them in coconut. The guests were delighted and asked for the recipe.
Queen of Lamingtons is master baker Nadine Ingram, who owns the hugely popular Flour and Stone patisserie in Sydney's Woolloomooloo district. Aficionados say her Lamingtons are the best in Australia.
During my recent trip to Sydney, I dropped by Flour and Stone to talk to Nadine about Lamingtons.
This uniquely Australian dessert went out of fashion a few years ago, but thanks to the efforts of bakers like Nadine, Lamingtons are now as popular as ever and today appear on the menu of high-end restaurants and are sold in trendy bakeries throughout the country.
Nadine added Lamingtons to her extensive menu in early 2012. “The reaction was overwhelming,” she said. “They always sell out. We can't not have them.”
And bakers have been reinventing the dessert. Recent interpretations include a Lamington affogato, Lamington Tiramisu. At Flour and Stone, Nadine's iteration is a panna cotta Lamington.
But before we start on the more complicated interpretations let's look at this traditional recipe:
200g granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g all-purpose flour
1½ tsp baking powder
110g butter, melted and cooled
75g unsalted butter
65g cocoa powder
435g confectioners' sugar
6 cups desiccated coconut
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 3 cm-deep, 20 cm x 30 cm (base) pan. Line with baking paper, leaving a 2 cm overhang on all sides. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition (mixture may curdle).
Sift half the flour over butter mixture. Stir to combine. Add half the milk. Stir to combine. Repeat with remaining flour and milk. Spoon into prepared pan. Smooth top. Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in center comes out clean. Stand in pan for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack. Cover with a clean tea towel. Set aside overnight.
Icing: Sift confectioners' sugar and cocoa into a bowl. Add butter and boiling milk. Stir until smooth.
Cut cake into 15 pieces. Place coconut in a dish. Using a fork, dip 1 piece of cake in icing. Shake off excess. Toss in coconut. Place on a wire rack over a baking tray. Repeat with remaining cake, icing and coconut. Stand for 2 hours or until set. Serve and enjoy.