Lamington - History

History

Most accounts of the creation of the lamington agree that it was named after Lord Lamington, who served as Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901. One account claims the dessert resembled the homburg hats that he favoured. Another claim has them named after the village of Lamington, South Lanarkshire in Scotland. As the title Baron Lamington itself derives from the village, however, the question of this connection is merely whether it is direct or indirect.

Even among those who attribute the name to Lord Lamington, there are different claims as to the exact location and creator of the cake itself. According to one claim, Lamingtons were first served in Toowoomba when Lord Lamington took his entourage to Harlaxton House to escape the steamy heat of Brisbane.

In another claim, Lamingtons' chef at Queensland's Government House, French-born Armand Gallad, was called upon at short notice to provide something to feed unexpected guests during the busy period leading up to Federation in 1901. According to the Melbourne Age newspaper, Gallad cut up some left-over French vanilla sponge cake baked the day before, dipped the slices in chocolate and set them in coconut. Coconut was not widely used in European cooking at that time, but was known to Gallad whose wife was from Tahiti where coconut was a common ingredient. Lady Lamington's guests then asked for the recipe.

A further alternative claim is that Lord Lamington's cook, presumably Gallad, 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.

Most of these claims are based on relatively recent reports. The earliest identified mention of the lamington recipe was published in January 1902, but the identity of the contributor of that recipe was not revealed. Thereafter earliest reference to the naming of cake located so far is in October 1933, where it is attributed to Lord Lamington himself.

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".

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