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.

Cake and lamington judging is done by the book

EXPERIENCED HAND: Camille Manton has
 judged at the Newcastle Show cooking
 competitions for nine years.
Camille Manton, the head judge of the cookery categories at this year’s Newcastle Regional Show, loves her job.

And why wouldn’t she?

Days of eating silky soft sponges, biting into fluffy scones and coconut cakes, and sampling jams, pickles and relishes would be many people’s idea of splendour.

Mrs Manton can’t wait to sample and scrutinise all the show entries on Friday and Saturday.
‘‘I love it. I absolutely love it,’’ she laughed

‘‘I come home exhausted and I make sure I have a very easy dinner that night, because I’ll have been eating all day.

The Australian lamington
‘‘But I absolutely love the cooking judging and I enjoy it so much that it isn’t a chore, I look forward to it.’’

After watching the MasterChef Australia contestants struggle to produce scones, marble cakes and lamingtons during a Country Women’s Association baking challenge on last year’s series, one might wonder whether there is still much interest in cooking and baking some of the good old stuff.

But if the number of people still entering shows is anything to go by, there’s still plenty out there who want to see how their baked goods fare in competition.

‘‘We’re expecting a good roll-up this year,’’ she said.

‘‘People are still entering the regional shows, which is a good thing, now we’ve got to encourage the younger ones.

‘‘They’re the ones I like to see coming along and entering because there’s so much takeaway these days and fast foods and the like, and I think the young ones cooking cakes and scones and biscuits and even jams and pickles is a great thing.

‘‘But they seem to go more for the cakes, scones and biscuits – we get very few entries in the jams and pickles categories for the younger ones.

‘‘On MasterChef those cooks were more about cooking an entree, main course and dessert; they were not so much bakers.

‘‘They were struggling with the baking side of things. But I guess if you go into cooking at that level you should be able to do it all really.’’

Mrs Manton said that the judging criteria at CWA and regional shows were strict and rigid.

While some of it might seem petty or pedantic, it was a necessary part of competition cooking, she said.

‘‘Say with a rich fruit cake, we’re looking for all the fruit to be cut to the same size as a sultana,’’ she said.

‘‘It all sounds very pedantic I know. You think, ‘Oh mum cooks a pretty good fruit cake we all enjoy it’, and that’s great, but in competition cooking you have to stick to the guidelines.

‘‘In fruit cakes you also don’t want too much overpowering spice or alcohol. You need to make sure the tin is lined correctly so that you haven’t got any wrinkles on the cake, and that it has a smooth top.

‘‘For a sultana cake you don’t cut the sultanas.

‘‘They have to be evenly distributed throughout the cake and have a nice golden straw colour on the outside, not over-baked and dry.

‘‘It’s the same again with the tin lining.

‘‘A sponge should be light and creamy and both the top and the bottom sponge should be the same thickness.

‘‘I’ve noticed some people make two sponges and then choose the ones they think are the best out of those two sponges, but they may make one lot out of different eggs and have one sponge quite white and the other one quite yellow because the yolks were a deeper colour.

‘‘Little things like that – and I know it sounds silly and they all taste the same at mum’s afternoon tea table – but in competition cooking that is immediately eliminated.

‘‘Scones, you want them all to be about the same size and well risen, using a light hand with the scones. You have to use a light hand.

‘‘If you’re too heavy-handed it makes the scones very heavy.

‘‘When you’re rubbing the butter through the flour you’re lifting your fingers up so you’re getting air into the flour and then when mixing the milk in, or if you’re using an egg as well, use a wide-blade knife and take it in quickly but lightly.

‘‘Don’t use your hand because you’re really toughening the mixture, and then just put it out on the bench and lightly pat it out.

‘‘Certainly don’t roll it out with a rolling pin because that would make it quite dense too.

‘‘Push it out gently with your hands and then, with your scone-cutter, press down for a crisp cut; don’t twist it, go straight down and when they’re rising they’ll come straight up.

‘‘If you give them a twist you’ll find they don’t rise quite as high.

‘‘They’re all little nitty-picky things I know.’’

Although lamingtons aren’t being judged at this year’s show, Manton also has some tips for those making them at home for their own enjoyment.

‘‘I always like to put the uncut lamington in the freezer after the tin cools, just for a short while, not to freeze it but just to firm it.

‘‘That way you get that really crisp cut, the size that you’re needing and it won’t crumble.

‘‘You don’t use the outside of the cake, you always use the inside.

‘‘You’ll find when you dip it into the chocolate you won’t get cake all through the chocolate so it goes all lumpy.

‘‘And then you put it straight into the finely desiccated coconut.’’

When it comes to pickles and jams, consistency is the key.

‘‘There are a lot of pickles these days, the sweet mustard one has been around for many, many years,’’ she said.

‘‘We’re looking for consistency, that they’re not too watery and not too thick either.

‘‘The vegetables should all be cut to about the same size.

‘‘If you’re putting cauliflower in, have the small florets cut to the same size as the carrots and so on.

‘‘For jam, you again have to aim for that right consistency, and you certainly don’t want a burnt flavour.

‘‘Some people will leave it on the stove a little bit too long thinking that it’s going to thicken it, and you get that burnt taste.’’

Mrs Manton, a member of the CWA for many years, was a cookery officer at the Coonamble branch and chief steward at the Coonamble Show for jams, pickles and preserves before moving to East Maitland.

‘‘I joined the local branch and got into the cooking and thought I’d rather like to go for my judge’s badge,’’ she said.

‘‘The first time I sat for my judge’s badge I didn’t get it. I was a bit shocked actually, because I thought I was pretty well up on it all, so I got my head into the books.

‘‘I was advised by our state champion at the time which books to read, so I read and read and read, and she took me around to a lot of the shows and the CWA branches to steward for her while she was judging, which gave me a great insight into what was going on.

‘‘So I sat for the assessment again and got my badge and certificate, and I haven’t looked back.

‘‘That must have been about eight or nine years ago now.’’

Sometimes an entry would really stand out and Mrs Manton would have loved to get her hands on the recipe.

Other times an entry would have an unusual flavour or colour, and she’d think, ‘‘Good heavens, what have they done?’’

‘‘Competition baking is something you have to really enjoy and go strictly by a good recipe.’’

The NAB Newcastle Regional Show is on from Friday to Sunday. Tickets are $10 for adults and children.

No comments: