Australia’s national cake and a national park were named after Charles Wallace Alexander Napier Cochrane-Baillie, second Baron of Lamington.
The story goes that, while visiting Harlaxton House in Toowoomba, the Governor had unexpected guests at teatime. The cupboard was bare apart from a stale sponge cake, so he asked the chef to improvise. The chef chocolate-coated the sponge cake, cut it into 5cm squares and added shredded coconut because it was sticky. The result was the lamington, which he named after his vice-regal boss.
Lord Lamington has reportedly referred to the cakes as “those bloody poofy wooly biscuits.”* Although perhaps not appreciated by Lord Lamington, these cakes are loved and enjoyed throughout Australia.
- 6 eggs
- ¾ cup caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup cornflour
- ½ cup self-raising flour
- ½ cup plain flour
- 20g melted butter
- 3 cups desiccated coconut
For chocolate icing:
- 5 cups icing sugar mixture
- ¾ cup cocoa powder, sifted
- ¾ cup milk
- 20g butter, chopped
- Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Grease a 4.5cm deep, 23cm x 33cm (base) roasting pan. Line base and sides with baking paper, extending paper 3cm above edges of pan.
- Using an electric mixer, beat eggs, sugar and vanilla together for 8 minutes or until mixture becomes thick and creamy.
- Meanwhile, triple-sift cornflour, self-raising flour and plain flour together. Sift over egg mixture. Using a spatula or whisk, fold in flours until just combined. Fold in butter.
- Pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until sponge is golden and just firm to touch. Turn onto a wire rack lined with baking paper. Cool completely.
- Trim edges of sponge. Cut sponge into 24 squares.
- Make chocolate icing: Place icing sugar, cocoa, milk and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir over heat until combined and smooth. Place coconut in a bowl.
- Using a fork, toss one piece of sponge in icing to coat. Drain off excess icing. Toss in coconut to coat all over. Transfer to a baking paper-lined tray. Repeat with remaining sponge, icing and coconut.
- Set aside for 1 hour to set. Serve.
*reference: Shrimpton, James (6 October 2007). “Australia: The tale of Baron Lamington and an improvised cake,” The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 13 October 2011.