Sydney's best lamingtons for the long weekend

Ruby, 8, and Millie, 5, with mother Cara Renshaw enjoy a lamington from Luscious Kiki Cakes in Brookvale.
Ruby, 8, and Millie, 5, with mother Cara Renshaw enjoy a lamington from Luscious Kiki Cakes in Brookvale.  Photo: Edwina Pickles

To jam or not to jam? Lamington loyalists have long been divided over whether the chocolate- and coconut-covered sponge should have a middle layer of jam, but in the lead up to Australia Day both sides of the debate are united by a common cause: lamington appropriation needs to stop.

On Wednesday, Coles launched a lamington and hot-cross-bun hybrid studded with chocolate chips and raspberry jellies. Lamington gelato has been common for the past few years, but this year it has been joined by lamington-flavoured milk, ice-cream sandwiches, croissants and doughnuts.

Luscious Kiki Cakes has incorporated Smith's lamington chips into its lamington line-up.
Luscious Kiki Cakes has incorporated Smith's lamington chips into its lamington line-up. Photo: Edwina Pickles

More controversially, Smith's released lamington-flavoured chips in December and an Adelaide restaurant has even made a lamington burger using the iconic treat as a bun.

"Lamington burgers, can you believe it?" says food writer Dr John Newton, who is adamant a lamington should never contain jam. 

"Lord Lamington [the cake's namesake] must be turning in his grave! Australians need to turn their back on this stuff and seek out the original."

Shortstop's doughnut lamington, created to raise money for bushfire relief.
Shortstop's doughnut lamington, created to raise money for bushfire relief. Photo: Supplied

Melbourne-based baker and cookbook author Phillippa Grogan says a little bit of lamington innovation can be delicious, such as using Davidson's plum jam or lemon curd, but agrees that some of the modern variations take things too far. 

"I suppose Australians will always like things that are new and different," she says. 

"Even if a product is disgusting, everyone is still going to talk about it. In that way, these new products are somewhat similar to the Kardashians. Perhaps we should ban even mentioning them at all!" 

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The lamington's origin can be traced to Queensland circa 1900 when Lord Lamington was governor of the state. It is uncertain who the exact inventor was, however many food historians believe it was the work of Lamington's French-born chef, Armand Galland. 

By 1908, the cake was a staple of regional fair baking competitions and jam does not appear in any recipes from the time.

Newton suggests one reason there are so many lamington-inspired products leading up to January 26 is that there are very few other dishes Australia can claim wholly as its own.

Kirin "Kiki" Tipping is the owner of LusciousKiki Cakes, the only lamington-centric retail bakery in Australia. She believes variations to the lamington across the country are making the cake more popular than it has ever been before.

"I think a lot of people, bored by the same old plain sponge filling, are seeking out different types of lamingtons," she says. 

At her Brookvale store in Sydney's northern beaches, Tipping enhances her lamingtons with everything from red velvet cake to pink pepper and Milo. The baker has even embraced the Smith's lamington chip.

"I've crushed the chips, baked them into a double-chocolate mud cake lamington and served it with house-made gin jam and another chip on top," she says. "I call it the Chippy Coma."

As for whether or not jam has any right to be near a lamington in the first place, advice from the Country Women's Association is that fruit-based preserve inclusion is totally fine.

Lisa Maude, cookery officer for the CWA Sydney branch, says jam or no, a properly made lamington is perfect by itself.

"The only thing a lamington should ever need is a good cup of tea." 

The lamington croissant at Textbook Boulangerie-Patisserie for Australia Day.

Textbook Boulangerie-Patisserie's lamington-croissant crossover.

Where to get your lamington fix this long weekend

Banksii

Barangaroo bar and restaurant Banksii has created a special Australia Day lamington by soaking sponge cake in rosé vermouth and layering it with pineapple jam. The treat is then dipped in chocolate and rolled in shaved macadamia.

Shop 11, 33 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo

Flour and Stone

Many food lovers cite Nadine Ingram's tiny Woolloomooloo bakery as the home of Australia's best lamington. With its delicate vanilla sponge soaked in panna cotta and a berry compote centre, the prized lammo is available in store.

53 Riley Street, Woolloomooloo

LusciousKiki Cakes

Kiki Tipping is the Willy Wonka of lamingtons, and although her store is only open every Friday and Saturday, there are 12 versions of the icon to choose from. Lamington creations include the Kakadoozie featuring Kakadu plum and Mudgee honey, and the Peach Melba-inspired Great Dame. 

16 Sydenham Road, Brookvale

Shortstop Coffee & Donuts

Cult sweet-treat dealers Shortstop have created a lamington doughnut available until January 27 featuring a coconut cake base filled with house-made strawberry jam, dark cocoa glaze and toasted coconut chips. With 100 per cent of the doughnut's proceeds to be donated to WIRES, even the most hardened lamington classicist can get behind the special.

Shop 3, 23 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo

Textbook Boulangerie-Patisserie

Textbook's lamington croissant proved so popular last Australia Day, the Alexandria bakery has brought it back for another round. Filled with fresh whipped cream and strawberry jam, the lamington-croissant crossover uses local NSW produce from Pepe Saya and Wholegrain Milling.

274 Botany Road, Alexandria