The story goes that the lamington, that chocolate-coated and coconut encrusted favourite of generations of Australian families and fundraising committees, was invented in Toowoomba!
It all began in the sultry Queensland summer of 1896 when Lord Lamington, the Governor of Queensland, began the annual habit of moving his entourage to Harlaxton House in Toowoomba to escape the heat of Brisbane.
He had a particular liking for ‘snowballs,’ those round rolled cakes served with whipped cream, for afternoon tea. Soon after arriving one summer, Lady Lamington ordered the cook to make a batch for the Lord and that afternoon’s guests.
To the cook’s horror, Harlaxton House kitchen was not equipped with patty pans and she had not brought any from the Brisbane kitchen. To make matters worse there was no cream in the larder! The cook improvised by making a big plain cake which she cut into oblongs, icing the tops and sides with chocolate and sprinkling with coconut.
The Governor and his guests were enthralled with the new treat. Lady Lamington was asked what the cakes were called. When told they had no name, the guests dubbed them ‘Lord Lamington’s Cakes.’
Here is the original recipe:
Lamington cake (circa 1896):
- One cup butter and half a cup of sugar creamed together.
- Add four eggs which have been beaten separately.
- Sift in two and a half cups of flour with two small teaspoons cream of tartar.
- Then half a cup of milk containing a small teaspoon of soda stirred into it.
- Line a large flat tin with paper.
- Put the mixture in and bake in a steady oven about one and a half hours.
- When cold, cut into squares.
- Cover the top and sides with chocolate icing and roll in coconut.