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.

What do you get when you mix two classic Australian dishes, the Lamington and lamb?

Bendigo chef Justin McPhail with
 his beloved Lambington, a lamb-
  based dessert he created. 
It looks like a sweet, comes complete with a jam filling and a sprinkling of coconut but this is no ordinary sweet.

It's a lamb-based dessert called the Lambington.

Self-taught Bendigo chef, 27-year-old Justin McPhail is the creator of the dish.

His introduction to cooking reads like an Australian romance between a man and his love of beer and food.

"I got into food through home brewing," he said.

He wanted to further understand the compositions of food and in particular how the flavours worked.

"I figured the best way to do that was to research food and cook a lot more food and then apply that to my brewing, "he said.

"But then it got out of hand and cooking pretty much took over as my primary passion."

In addition to being a chef Justin is also co-founder of Bendigo Beer, an organisation that promotes craft beer.

"I've always been passionate about food and beverage," Justin said.

He only made the leap to professional cooking a few years ago after quitting his office job to pursue cooking.

Watching TV one night, he was inspired by self-taught experimental chef Heston Blumenthal, known for his scientific approach to cooking.

But Justin was also attracted to Heston's playful approach to cooking and in particular his interest in historical cooking of the fifteenth-century.

"When live pigs were presented as if they were ready to be carved up and then they would jump from the table," said Justin.

So, in his pursuit of experimentation and in his search for flavours, combined with a love of puns, the Lambington was born.

It debuted at the Festival of Lamb last year in Bendigo and out of 60 people served, only two people didn't like it.

Colin Thompson from Bendigo described it lovingly in his Facebook post.

"More Australian than blowies on a meat pie in the back of the ute, hittin' a kanga while crossin' the Nullarbor on the way to a barbie with ya mates and favourite sheila," he said.

Like many creations there were a few attempts.

"The first one, involved a pressed lambs tongue with a raspberry jus and some coconut," he said.

This current iteration is more involved.

It contains a locally sourced lamb from Maiden Gully, just out of Bendigo, which is slow braised then shredded up and mixed with chocolate. The mixture is then folded through some meringue and shaped into cookies and baked.

The two cookies are then joined together with homemade raspberry jam finished off with shredded coconut. The raspberries are also sourced from a local supplier in Goornong.

He likes the transition of flavours from sweet to savoury, creating a culinary journey for the pallete.

"The best part about this dish is it starts off sweet, and you think you are eating a lamington, and as you are starting to chew through a bit more, a lot more of the savory notes come through," he said.

"Then at the end you've got the lamb with the spiced mix coming through."

Being a beer fan, the dish is best served with beer he said, preferably darker ale or red ale, or even a Shiraz.

Justin will be entering his dish in the ABC Australia Cooks competition.

The competition is searching for a dish that best represents central Victoria using local produce. It's about real Australian cooking that includes ingredients unique to this region.

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