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The battle of the Lamington

Old Government House

Images courtesy of the State Library of Queensland.

Old Government House in Brisbane, Harlaxton House in Toowoomba and even New Zealand are all claimed to be the birth place of the lamington – the cube of sponge cake dipped in chocolate and swathed in coconut – that is the national cake of Australia.

Rivalry has long reigned between Australia and New Zealand about who first made the Pavlova, another Australasian treat named after a celebrity du jour, but when it comes to the lamington, QUT historian and Old Government House curator Dr Katie McConnel says there is no dispute about it.

”It was definitely first concocted at Old Government House by French chef Armand Galland,” Dr McConnel says.

”It’s all in the use of the chocolate and coconut and because Lady Lamington herself credited Armand Galland with this popular cake.

”Monsieur Galland came to Australia with Lord and Lady Lamington in 1900 and cooked for them until they left in 1901. The lamington was born of necessity – it was Monsieur Galland’s answer to the perennial problem of unexpected visitors coming up the path. He pulled from the pantry day old French vanilla sponge cake, chocolate and coconut and whipped up the lamington.

”It proved so popular that Lady Lamington was inundated with requests for the recipe and thus Galland named his delectable treat in honour of his patrons the Lamingtons.

”There is no doubt it would have been at Government House that a lot of unexpected guests turned up. Lord and Lady Lamington did go to Toowoomba in the summer to escape the heat but they received most visitors at Government House.

”Monsieur Galland accompanied the Royal Tour to New Zealand in 1901 and would have cooked lamingtons in New Zealand but that was after the Lamingtons had gone back to England.”