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.

Lamington cupcakes - an original Australian delicacy

I have weirdly been having major cravings for lamingtons the past few weeks. Don’t ask me why but every time I walk into bakery or I’m walking around a farmer’s market I’m on high alert for a coconut covered chocolate cube.

For all you non-aussie folk out there, a lamington is basically a small cubed sponge cake coated in a thin layer of chocolate icing that almost seeps into the outer layer of sponge and then rolled in desiccated coconut (drooling yet?). Often the sponge has a layer of cream and/or jam in the middle which of course is my preference.

While I was writing this post, I got curious. Where did lamingtons come from? There seems to be several different stories floating around the interweb but I have picked my favourite. They were named after Lord Lamington (yes, that’s right there was a Lord Lamington), who was the governor of Queensland from 1896-1901. One day, his french born chef dropped a block of sponge cake into a dish of chocolate who then thought it would be nice to cover it in coconut. Ironically however, Lord Lamington was not fond of his namesake cake referring to them as “those bloody poofy wooly biscuits”…umm ok…if you say so.

So back to my lamingtons. It’s weird because I’ve never been that overly into lamingtons only because I’ve just recently learnt to love coconut. I mean I would never say no if someone was offering them up, but they would never be first on my list….until I made these lamington cupcakes, oh my lordy, these things are aaaahh-mazing. I probably have to say the best things about them is the icing (frosting) and that’s a lot coming from me as I’m actually really not that into icing and will often scrape most of it off the cupcake because it’s just too sweet and too buttery. But this icing….this icing that I adapted from Joy the Baker is deeeeee-licious. Light and airy, not too sweet and highly addictive.

Lamington cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes – you can easily multiply the recipe for more

What you need:

For the cupcakes – based on Magnolia Bakery’s Vanilla Cupcakes

  • 85 g self-rasing flour
  • 70 g all purpose/plain flour
  • 113 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 170g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temp
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • strawberry jam

For the icing/frosting – slightly adapted from Joy the Baker chocolate buttercream frosting

  • 85 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder, the better the quality the more intense the choc flavour
  • small pinch of salt
  • 1 cup icing sugar/powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1/4 cup thickened/heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup hot chocolate mix
  • 1/2 cup flaked or shredded coconut

What to do:

Pre-heat the oven to 170C/350F.

Line a 12 hole muffin tin with cupcake liners.

In a medium-sized bowl mix together sifted self-raising flour and all-purpose flour.

In a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. One at a time, add the eggs and mix thoroughly between each egg.

Add the flour alternating with a bit of the milk mixed with the vanilla extract and beat until all the ingredients are incorporated. However be careful not to over beat as this will make for a tough cake. Make sure you also scrape down the sides of the bowl every now and then so all ingredients get mixed in.

Spoon a heaped tablespoon of the batter in the cupcake liners and then place about 1/2 tsp of strawberry jam on the batter then top with more cupcake batter until it is 2/3rds full.

Bake for 20-25 mins until the cupcakes pass the skewer test!

Let the cupcakes cook in the muffin tin for about 15 minutes and then take them out and cool on a cake rack until completely cool before icing.

To make the icing cream together the softened butter, salt and cocoa until incorporated. At this point the mixture will be quite thick. Scrape the bowl and then add the icing sugar with the mixer on low and add the milk and vanilla extract. Once the mixture is starting to incorporate with each other, turn up the mixer and beat until smooth. In a small bowl or cup, mix together the cream and hot chocolate mix and then drizzle into the icing mixture with the mixer on medium until your desired consistency is reached. You may not end up needing the full amount of cream/hot choc mixture.

Spread or pipe onto the cooled cupcakes and then top with the coconut.

Eat this Lord Lamington and I’m sure you’ll take back your crazy words.

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