Citizens, a few days ago, Christmas was just celebrated in Serbia, where the Serbian Orthodox Church still celebrates the holiday using the Julian calendrical system. This is the calendar that was used before the Gregorian system used today by most other Christian countries. Two of my dearest friends are Lazar Stojković and his wife Đurđica, who recently introduced me to the fantastic Serbian dessert of Lamingtons, also known locally as Čupavci during a celebratory Serbian Christmas dinner.
Known as a Lamington in Australia, it is now very popular throughout all of the countries that used to make up Yugoslavia (Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Macedonia), amongst other European countries. A Lamington consists of squares or rectangles of sponge cake coated first in a layer of chocolate sauce, then in dried coconut.
While many think the Lamington was invented in Australia, it turns out it was in fact in New Zealand! As noted in the Guardian:
The Lamington, Australia’s famed dessert, was actually invented in New Zealand and originally named a “Wellington”, according to new research published by the University of Auckland.
Fresh analysis of a collection of 19th-century watercolours by the New Zealand landscape artist JR Smythe, shows that in one portrait, “Summer Pantry” dated 1888, a partially eaten Lamington cake is clearly visible on the counter of a cottage overlooking Wellington Harbour.
The first known reference to a Lamington before this was a recipe published in 1902 in the Queensland Country Life newspaper. Historians had believed the Lamington was named after Lord Lamington who served as governor of Queensland between 1896-1901.
But experts at the University of Auckland have examined archives which show records of a visit Lamington undertook to Wellington in 1895, before beginning in his tenure as Queensland governor.
According to a New Zealand Herald news report of the visit, Lamington was “much taken with the local sweets provided him by local bakers A.R. Levin.”
Among those sweets, the article states, was a “Wellington – a double sponge dessert, dressed in shavings of coconut intended to imitate the snow capped mountains of New Zealand.”
In the former Yugoslav countries, this dessert is called “čupavac” (usually referred to in plural: “čupavci”), which means “a hairy one” (pl. “hairy ones”).
Đurđica’s Čupavci recipe truly impressed me – with her kind permission, I will now introduce her version of this recipe for your indulgent sweet tooth. 🙂 These would be a delicious ending to a Serbian meal, perhaps starting with some Ajvar as an appetizer.
Battle on – The Generalissimo
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