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.

Lamingtons take the cake as the best dessert

Lamingtons take the cake

I was 16 the first time I tasted a Lamington.

Kezia was a new girl at school. Her mother was Kiwi, her dad Malay. We became fast friends and one day, she brought me some lamingtons her mum had made the day before. I had no idea what they were. Prefect chocolate squares, coated with coconut? They looked like something out of a magazine.

I wish I'd taken a moment before I bit into my first little coconut covered chocolate square. Why? Well, I'm not kidding but that first bite changed my world. Forever. I swore that Kezia's mother's lamingtons were the best cake I'd ever tasted. (23 years later and its still up there among my favourite cakes).

Coconut. Chocolate. Delicious sponge. Bite after bite I got to enjoy the delicious medley between the three. Gorgeous. Soft. Rich. Sublime.

Funnily enough, those were the last lamingtons I ever tasted. I don't know why I never thought of making them before. Perhaps I wanted to keep that memory special. The anticipation. The surprise and the unexpected pleasure.

Last week, for no apparent reason, I thought about those lamingtons and I remembered Kezia, who I haven't see for 15years or so. I had no idea how to get in touch with her - couldn't find her on facebook - so I did the next best thing: I began looking for a lamington recipe.

After looking at about 20-odd recipes, I found Martha Stewart's. That was it. My search was over. Thank goodness, cos I could feel a migraine coming on.

Martha tweaked the basic recipe a little. She divided her sponge cake into two layers and sandwiched them with strawberry jam before cutting them into squares, coating them with chocolate icing and then coating them with coconut.

Oooooh! Strawberry jam!

You can't see me but I am patting myself on the back for choosing Martha's recipe. For one, Divine Miss Martha's sponge was fantastic. Soft like a pillow (feather-stuffed of course) and just sweet enough.

The jam in the centre? Delightful.

Can't wait to try it? Here's the recipe.


Sponge cake
225gm unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing pans
22/3 cups cake flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk, room temp
strawberry jam
shredded/dessicated coconut

Chocolate icing

8 oz bittersweet choc
1/2 cup milk
60 gms butter

Preheat your oven to 170C. Grease two 9 by 13inch pans, line with baking paper, grease again. Dust with some flour and set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar with your electric mixer until soft and fluffy: about 3 mins. Add the vanilla and eggs (one at a time, wait till each egg is incorporated before adding the next).

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt.

Add the flour into the batter in three batches, alternating with the milk. (flour, milk, flour, milk flour).

Divide the batter into the two prepared pans and bake for about 30 mins or until a tester comes out clean. Leave out to cool, turn out on to cake racks to cool completely.

Spread the jam on one of the cakes and sandwich the jam with the other half.

Chill the cake in the fridge overnight or for about six hours before frosting.

(Did you notice this plate? And the plates above? I got the at a flea market for just RM3 and RM6 respectively. The ones in the top photos were actually bone china! Crazy finds, I tell ya.)

To make the icing, melt the chocolate + milk above a pot of boiling water. When its melted and blended, add the butter and stir gently to mix.

Spread the coconut in a shallow bowl or plate.

Take the cake out of the fridge (make sure its been in at least 6 hours so its firm and wont break when you coat it) and cut it into 2-inch squares.

Dip the squares in chocolate and then roll them in the coconut.

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