Lamingtons are an Australian dessert.
They are small squares of chocolate and coconut covered plain sponge cake about 2 inches (5 cm) tall, wide and long.
The tops are smooth, and the sides are rough, because the sides are cut cake.
The cake is usually sponge cake made from eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, cornstarch, butter and hot water. That being said, you can use any form of sponge or butter cake. The essential thing is the chocolate icing and the coconut.
At home, the sponge cake is baked in small, home-size slab pans. You can also buy special Lamington tins to bake them in.
You cut the cake up into cubes after the cake has cooled a bit. The cake is easier to work with if made a day ahead of time before cutting it into squares.
The squares of cake are dipped in chocolate icing made from icing sugar, cocoa, butter and warmed milk. Then, while the chocolate is still wet, the cake piece is either rolled in desiccated coconut, or has the coconut sprinkled on.
Sometimes (particularly in the state of Victoria) there may be a layer of raspberry or plum jam inside in the cake.
You can buy Lamingtons in grocery stores in Australia.
They are also often sold in fund-raisers held by various church, school, or girl guide groups, etc. The fund-raising campaigns are called “Lamington Drives.”
A similar item called “Coconut Squares” are made in Cleveland, Ohio, USA.
There are various theories as to where the name Lamington came from.
One is that Lamingtons are named after Lord Lamington, Charles Wallace Alexander Napier Cochrane-Baillie (born London 29 July 1860 died 1940). He was the Governor of Queensland State from 9 April 1896 to 19 December 1901 (and later of Bombay, India, from 1903 – 7.)
Another is that they are named after his wife, Lady Lamington.
But, the first connection in writing of the name of the Lamington cake with Lord Lamington seems to have been in July 1977 by a man named John Hepworth. Others picked up the story quoted it, and because others then quoted them as well, it became accepted as fact.
Writers before 1977, though, said they didn’t know why it was called Lamington.
Since then, all kinds of “histories” trying to reason why his name is connected with the cake have been invented, to the extent that the little cakes seem to be his claim to fame.
That being said, there certainly were men’s hats named after Lord Lamington.
Early recipes in 1909 refer to a Lamington as being a whole cake. The coconut only makes an appearance in some of these early recipes.
A 1912 recipe in the The Kookaburra Cookery Book says that you can cut it into squares.