The Great Australian Lamington

The Great Australian Lamington
Lord Lamington Governor of Queensland - creator of the world-famous Australian Lamington.

The Humble Australian Lamington - Created in Queensland in 1901

Australian Lamington

The world-famous Australian lamington is over a century old.

Despite some dubious claims from New Zealand, the lamington is as Australian as meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars, ranking alongside the other true Australian icons of the pavlova, peach melba and Vegemite.

This Australian culinary icon, which consists of sponge cake dipped in chocolate and liberally sprinkled with fine desiccated coconut, was created through an accident at work by a maid-servant to Lord Lamington, the thoroughly-British eighth Governor of Queensland.

The maid-servant was working at Government House in Brisbane when she accidentally dropped the Governor's favourite sponge cake into some melted chocolate.

Lord Lamington was not a person of wasteful habits and suggested that it be dipped in coconut to cover the chocolate to avoid messy fingers.

Paul Tully celebrates
the 100th anniversary
of the world renowned
Australian lamington
on 19 December 2001
Lord Lamington devoured this new taste sensation with great delight and the maid-servant's error was proclaimed a magnificent success by all! The Governor however is on the record as calling them "those bloody poofy woolly biscuits".

Lord Lamington was born in London, England on 29 July 1860 as Charles Wallace Alexander Napier COCHRANE-BAILLIE holding the aristocratic title of Baron Lamington.

He was Governor of Queensland from 9 April 1896 to 19 December 1901.

After leaving Queensland, he went on to become the Governor of Bombay in India for 4 years. He died at Lamington House, Lanarkshire, Scotland, in 1940.

According to Hansard page 728 at the Australian Constitutional Convention in Canberra on 11 February 1998, Cr Paul Tully, an elected delegate representing "Queenslanders for a Republic" suggested that his extensive research of the Governors of the 6 Australian colonies and states had produced evidence of only "one, single, solitary, positive achievement of any Governor since the First Fleet arrived in 1788" and that was Lord Lamington's contribution to the culinary delights of the Australian nation!

Lord Lamington served Queensland for 5 years but despite all of his colonial, aristocratic pomp and ceremony, the only thing which Charles Wallace Alexander Napier COCHRANE-BAILLIE will ever be remembered for in Australia is the creation of the world-famous lamington.


3 eggs
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup self-raising flour 1/2 cup milk.

Beat the eggs well, gradually adding the sugar until dissolved. Add the milk and vanilla essence and then stir in the self raising flour and whip the butter into the mixture. Pour the mixture into a cake tin or lamington baking dish and bake in a moderate oven of 180 degrees Celsius for 35 minutes. Allow the cake to cool for at least 10 minutes and then stand for 24 hours preferably in the refrigerator, before applying the icing.

4 cups icing sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons boiling water
3 cups desiccated coconut.

Stir the cocoa and icing sugar vigorously in a large bowl, adding the milk, butter and boiling water, warming the chocolate mixture over a very low heat until it has a smooth creamy texture. Cut the sponge cake into equal squares about 5cm x 5cm and, using a fork or thin skewer, dip each piece into the chocolate mixture ensuring that the mixture is liberally and evenly applied. Dip each piece into the desiccated coconut, allowing the lamingtons to cool on a wire tray for several hours.


© Paul Tully 2009

Do you have an interesting historical anecdote about the Australian lamington?
Please email the Australian Lamington Official Website.

Australian Politics: Operation Lamington comes to Parliament House in Canberra

Australian lamingtons.
Let them eat cake: Treasury lays on 702 lamingtons for Joe Hockey's first address to staff.

It was the beginning of the end of the age of entitlement.

The Coalition had swept to power days before and the freshly-minted Treasurer, Joe Hockey, wanted to address his new troops down at Treasury.

Great bargaining, well done! 

A trail of documents released under Freedom of Information laws shows how close Treasury managers came to spending $3500 on Mr Hockey's initial "all staff address" but were instead forced into hosting a no-frills event in the department's courtyard because Canberra's five-star hotels and Old Parliament House were fully booked.

Lamingtons proved a popular snack for Treasury officials during their first official meeting with Treasurer Joe Hockey.

An alternative plan was hatched that may as well have been known as Operation Lamington.

It involved the purchase of 117 trays of lamingtons – or 702 lamingtons in total - some instant coffee and a temporary stage and lectern for Mr Hockey to speak.

Departmental emails, published on the Treasury website, detail how a Treasury staff member located a supermarket supplier in Canberra and then drove a deal on behalf of the taxpayer.

"Lamingtons are available from Supabarn in the City at a discounted price of $4.99 per pack of 6. The total cost quoted is $583.83. I am happy to drive into the city now," an unnamed staff member emailed their superior on Thursday, September 26, 2013.

Joe Hockey bought 702 lamingtons
at taxpayers' expense.
Once the lamington run was complete, the same staff member followed up an hour and half later with the good news that the Commonwealth had extracted a four per cent discount on its bulk buy.

"Supabarn gave us a further discount and the total expense is $560.43," the Treasury official wrote.

Another email contains the message "great bargaining, well done!" but that appears to relate to the original plan to rent a meeting room at the Hyatt Hotel or Old Parliament House.

The Hyatt had quoted a "discounted room fee" for $3500 which would include "tea/coffee/biscuits". No mention of lamingtons was made in the Hyatt quote.

An email that appears to have been sent to Mr Hockey's office from the General Manager, Ministerial Communications division of the Treasury, outlined the plan for the September 24 address.

"We'll need to do it down at Treasury in the fountain courtyard as other venues nearby are all booked out. We'll have a sound system and can organise a mini-stage so everyone can see him and we can organise some basic tea/coffee catering so he can mingle afterwards."

But Mr Hockey may not have been forced to endure the basic coffee. A petty cash claim, released with the FOI documents, shows a Treasury staffer spent $15.90 at Treasury's in-house Coffers CafĂ© on "coffee purchased for ministers - x4". 

Mr Hockey became Treasurer in September 2013.

No comments: