One accounts is that of Baron Lamington, Queensland’s Governor at the turn of the 20th century. The story has it that the cake was so named for its resemblance to the homburg hat that the baron liked to wear. Another account is that of Lady Lamington, having nothing but stale sponge to offer visiting parliamentarians, chopped up the sponge, dipped the squares in chocolate icing, tossed them in desiccated coconut, and passed them off as high tea.
The earliest known published recipe for the lamington appeared in 1902 in the cookery section of The Queenslander newspaper credited to ‘a subscriber’.
Like other Lamington pursits, I take this cake very seriously – no cream, no jam, no double chocolate, no yoghurt in the cake batter (was agast to find this in one recipe). Straight up stale sponge, gooey sweet chocolate coating, a thorough rolling in shredded coconut, and a strong cup of tea.
Whilst enjoyed on any occasion, make sure you get your fill on National Lamington Day – 21 July.
250g caster sugar
250g plain flour
30g unsalted butter, melted
200g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
450g icing sugar
250g shredded coconut
Makes about 32
Preheat oven to 190C. Whisk eggs and sugar in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water for 5-10 minutes or until warm (about 40C), pale and frothy. Transfer to an electric mixer and whisk on high speed for 10 minutes or until mixture has tripled in volume. Sift over plain flour in batches and, using a metal spoon, fold gently to combine between additions. Just before adding the last of the flour, fold through melted butter. Divide batter between 2 lightly greased and base-lined 20cm square cake pans. Bake in centre of oven for 20 minutes or until a skewer withdraws clean. Stand in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, then turn out onto racks and cool completely.
Combine cocoa, milk and 125ml boiling water in a large bowl and whisk until combined. Add chocolate and stir until chocolate has dissolved. Sift in icing sugar and whisk until combined.
Scatter shredded coconut over a tray. Cut each sponge into sixteen 5cm squares. Using 2 forks or tongs, dip each square into the chocolate and shake to remove excess. (If chocolate starts to thicken, place bowl over gently simmering water to thin.) Roll each square in coconut, shake off excess and place on a wire rack (sitting over a tray). Stand for at least 1 hour or until chocolate sets. Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to 3 days.