Lamingtons have been baked in Australian kitchens for well over 100 years. It is a little unclear how they first originated, and there is some controversy that the recipie actually came to Australia from Scotland. Controversy aside, they are definitely considered to be an "Aussie icon" and are always listed amongst our traditional recipes.
These delicious chocolaty treats played an important part (and still do) in raising money for schools and sporting groups such as the local netball club, or the nippers club. Lamington Drives were a common fundraising event, with groups of mothers gathering together for large baking sessions which made dozens and dozens of lamington. I can assure you, every box produced would be sold, as there is nothing better than a rich chocolaty lamington with the morning or afternoon cup of tea.
Like many children growing up in the 50's and 60's I have wonderful memories of the "production" line in Mum's kitchen, where we made dozens of lamingtons for a "Lamington Drive" for my local netball team. Mum would bake the cakes (double mixtures) in large baking trays the evening before and cut them into squares ready for our netball team to assemble the next day.
The kitchen table would be set up with three or four bowls of the icing mixture, and plates with coconut. Wire racks would be set up on the side bench for the finished lamingtons. My friends and I would spend the morning dipping and rolling the squares of cake, often getting more coconut and chocolate icing on our faces and fingers than on the lamingtons. There was always the sly slip of the finger in to the chocolate mixture, (just to assure it taste ok), and if a square of cake that accidentally broke in the mixture and had to be eaten on the spot. yum!!
When all the cakes were coated and rolled, Mum would serve us all a hot cup of tea and we would munch into one of the lamingtons, while we waited for the others to be ready for packing into boxes to fill all the orders collected in the drive. In reflection I have to admire my mother's patience, smiling and joining in with the frivolity of a group of teenage girls who were turning her normally tidy and orderly kitchen into a chaotic chocolaty mess.
If you feel inclined, I have included the recipe below. Happy lamington baking.
1/2 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour
6 x 59 g eggs at room temperature
1 cup caster sugar
1 tbs boiling water
2 cups desiccated coconut
2 cups icing sugar mixture
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup boiling water
Preheat oven to 160°C. Brush a 19 x 29cm lamington pan with melted butter to lightly grease. Line the base and sides with non-stick baking paper, allowing it to overhang slightly. Sift flour into a large bowl, twice. Whisk eggs in large bowl until thick and pale. Add the sugar, gradually, whisking well as you add the sugar, whisk until the mixture is thick and sugar dissolved. Sift the flour over the egg mixture, pour the boiling water down the side of the bowl. Then with a large metal spoon gently fold until the flour, water and egg mix just combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with the metal spoon. Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Gently, take cake out of the oven and turn onto a wire cooling rack, cover with clean tea towel. Let the cake cool over night.
Trim the edges of the cake and cut into squares. Pour the coconut into a shallow bowl or plate. Now, make the chocolate icing, sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder into a bowl. Pour in the mild and water and stir until mixture is smooth, and slightly runny.
Now comes the fun bit!! dip the cake squares into the warm icing, coating evenly, then roll the cake into the coconut, giving it an even coat all over, then place the lamington on the cooking rack. Repeat this process with all the cake squares, and set aside for an hour or so until the icing has set.
Note: You can make different versions by slicing the sponge through the center and putting cream and jam in the middle before dipping the squares into the chocolate mixture.