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.

How to make Lamington and Raspberry Jelly Patty cakes

Lamington patty cakes.
Nothing beats biting into a freshly baked lamington.Vanilla sponge coated in a layer of chocolate icing and then rolled in dessicated coconut. Simple, elegant and decidedly delicious. Iconically Australian. Most times a great lamington is hard to come by.

Here is a simple variation on the well loved lamington. Two ways. Vanilla patty cakes replace the classic squares of sponge. Dipped in chocolate icing or for a very retro vibe – partially set raspberry jelly. 

Before being rolled in shredded coconut. And there you have it chocolate lamington and raspberry jelly cakes. 

The staple of many a children’s party, school cake stall and fete in my childhood years.

Chocolate Lamington and Raspberry Jelly Patty Cakes

For The Vanilla Patty Cakes
Makes 24 cakes

  • 125 g butter
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cups self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • PREHEAT oven to 180C (160C fan-forced). Grease and flour two 12-hole, flat-based patty pans, shaking out any excess flour.
  • CREAM together butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  • ADD egg and beat until just combined.
  • ADD flour, milk and vanilla and mix until smooth.
  • SPOON tablespoons of the mixture into the prepared tins.
  • BAKE for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. They’re ready when a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove cakes from pans and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To Make Chocolate Lamingtons

  • 300g (2 cups) icing sugar mixture
  • 35g (1/3 cup) cocoa powder
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) milk
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) boiling water
  • 2 1/2 cups desiccated coconut

  • SIFT the icing sugar and cocoa powder into a medium bowl. Add the milk and water and stir until smooth.
  • DIP each patty cake into the warm icing to evenly coat. Allow any excess icing to drip off.
  • ROLL in coconut until evenly coated.Place on a wire rack and set aside until icing sets, about an hour.

To Make Raspberry Jelly Cakes

  • 250 ml (1 cup) boiling water
  • 1 x 85 g (3 oz) packet strawberry or raspberry jelly crystals
  • 200ml ( a little over 34 cup) cold water
  • 2 1/2 cups desiccated coconut
  • POUR boiling water into a large heatproof jug. Sprinkle jelly crystals into jug, stir until crystals are dissolved, then stir in cold water.
  • COVER and refrigerate for 2 hours, or until jelly is just starting to set. It should be a thick and syrupy consistency, similar to that of egg whites. If it is too firm it will not stick to the cakes. If it is too thin it will soak right through the cakes causing them to disintegrate.
  • REMOVE jelly from refrigerator and quickly roll each cake in the jelly, coating it evenly.
  • TOSS the jelly-covered cake in coconut until it’s coated all over. Refrigerate for an hour or until firm.

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