lamington
Photo courtesy of MShev via Shutterstock.
Photo courtesy of MShev via Shutterstock.

When you think of Australia, unique local cuisine probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Don’t get me wrong: with its incredibly multicultural population, cultural connection to Europe and relative geographic proximity to Asia, Australian dining is diverse and wonderful. The country is home to some of the finest Greek, Chinese, Thai, Italian and Vietnamese restaurants outside their countries of origin. And from the big cities like Sydney and Melbourne to smaller destinations like Perth and Hobart, restaurant and café culture is truly a part of Australian life.

But what about Australian food itself? As an Australian expat, I admit our cuisine may not be as comprehensive or historical as others, but Australia certainly has a gastronomic identity all its own.

The Macadamia, king of Australian nuts, is creeping into local Australian cooking. Photo courtesy of Ruggiero Scardigno via Shutterstock.
The Macadamia, king of Australian nuts, is creeping into local Australian cooking. Photo courtesy of Ruggiero Scardigno via Shutterstock.

Australian food is vibrant and flavorful, with a focus on fine, local fish, steak, lamb and fresh vegetables. “Modern Australian” cuisine often adopts a subtle Asiatic touch, such as Atlantic salmon with a flourish of fresh chilli or chicken simmered in a soy broth. Some of the most interesting Australian restaurants take inspiration from native Aboriginal culture, using yams, bush berries, nuts and kangaroo meat as local staples.

We love potatoes, but usually prefer them roasted with rosemary, rather than mashed with butter. We love pies, but you’re just as likely to find a sweet potato pasty or rhubarb crumble pie at your local bakery as you are to find the trusty old meat variety. And we love all manner of British, French and American cakes, but we also like to concoct our own. Enter the Lamington.

Photo courtesy of Anna Hoychuk via Shutterstock.
Photo courtesy of Anna Hoychuk via Shutterstock.

The humble Lamington is perhaps the most iconic of Australian and New Zealand desserts; a cube of sponge cake dipped in dark chocolate sauce and rolled in desiccated coconut. Purists prefer their Lamingtons in this simple form, although a variety with a layer of cream and/or strawberry jam in the center has been growing in popularity for some time. Some radical bakers even use custard or lemon jam, but those versions remain rare.

The origins of the light, chocolaty dessert are somewhat unclear. Most agree it was invented in the sunny state of Queensland, though whether it was first served in the country town of Toowoomba or the capital of Brisbane is contested. It was almost certainly invented at the turn of the twentieth century and named after the Lady Lamington, wife of Queensland Governor at the time, Lord Lamington, though some believe it was actually named for their home town in England. One story claims one of the Lamingtons’ maids accidentally dropped a sponge cake in a bowl of chocolate. Another tells that the Lamington was a concoction thrown together at the last minute by the Lamingtons’ French chef, which makes the simple cake sound much fancier than it really is.

Photo courtesy of Anna Hoychuk via Shutterstock.
Photo courtesy of Anna Hoychuk via Shutterstock.

These days, any local corner bakery will offer the garden variety Lamington alongside their coffee scrolls, apple pies and jam tarts. But you can also find gourmet versions in some of the fancier cafés, like Melbourne’s Snow Pony, with lightly toasted shredded coconut and rich dark chocolate ganache.

Whatever its origins and whichever variety takes your fancy, the Lamington is a scrumptious dessert staple of Australian culinary culture – and history.

Are you a fan of the Lamington? Do you have any recommendations for good Lamingtons where you live? Please share in the comments below.

Also Check Out:

Coffee Culture: Top Five Cafes In Melbourne, Australia

In Search Of Australia’s Quintessential Dish

Check Out This Amazing “Travel Anywhere” Travel Guide

Jessica Festa

Jessica Festa is the editor of Epicure & Culture as well as Jessie on a Journey. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia, agritouring through Tuscany, and volunteering in Ghana.

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1 Comment

  1. Nice article! I like your writing style. Thanks for sharing such a great post.
    I have also bought food gift vouchers from https://gourmettravellergiftcard.com.au/ and enjoyed lamington after dine with my family at the famous Australian restaurants.

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