A happy accident from Down Under, expertly executed by Comptoir Gourmand
It’s remarkable really, the number of foods that have (allegedly) been created by accident. Cornflakes, tarte tatin, bakewell tart—even cheese, which is likely to have been born in an animal stomach used by nomadic tribespeople to carry milk. Legend has it the lamington is no exception, arising, so one story goes, when Australian Lord Lamington’s cook accidentally dropped a block of sponge cake into a dish of chocolate.
The story is much disputed: all the best stories are, but what does seem certifiable is that the treat’s namesake, Lord Lamington, served as Governor of Queensland, and had a Tahitian wife—hence, it’s alleged, the appearance of desiccated coconut, which was not otherwise widely used at the time.
It is, therefore, Australian: as Australian as the opera house, koalas and excellent coffee—on which note, a Flat Cap coffee is an excellent partnership with a lamington. You’ll find them brewing directly opposite from Comptoir Gourmand, the stall baking and selling lamingtons in spite of their French origins. “It is not French,” says Marie at the stall simply. “But we make it fresh every day, and it sells very well.” After all, a combination of vanilla sponge, raspberry jam and chocolate icing is unlikely to go very far wrong.
Delightfully smooth and silky
It is not French—but it IS like a French fancy. We mean this in the best possible way, for even in adulthood Mr Kipling has a special place in our hearts—though of course, our tastebuds having matured somewhat since then, we can appreciate the difference in quality. The sponge is “very fresh, very, very soft,” says Marie, and the desiccated coconut flavourful—almost juicy: not for Comptoir Gourmand the wood chip favoured by more commercial brands. The jam is reminiscent of real raspberries, and the chocolate of cocoa: darker, richer and delightfully smooth and silky.
If this is what happens when chefs make mistakes in the kitchen, long may it continue.