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.

Weekly Top 'Toon: Lamington Song - Launchpad Toys

This week’s Top ‘Toon comes from the land down under where, little did we know, Sponge Cakes are known as “Lamingtons“. 

This particular Sponge Cake… er, Lamington, has got to be the most extraordinarily interesting baked good this side of a Royal Wedding: not only does it have its own theme song, but it’s also an Astronaut, Pirate, King and, well, leader of an Auto-Tuned Barber Shop Quartet. 

Yes, AUTO-TUNED. That’s a first for ToonTube Ladies and Gentlemen. 

T-Pain eat your heart out.

Where can you get good Australian food in Seattle - including the Aussie Lamington?

We asked Saffron Hodgson, the Seattle-based editor of Allrecipes Australia, to give her recommendations for the best Australian food in Seattle. Next up: Seattle’s Brazilian food.

Being a young country, Australia has a dynamic food culture based on those who have migrated there in 221 years since European settlement and from our Asian neighbors, so often I find myself craving a traditional English Roast Beef or Malaysian Laksa.

However there are some dishes that Australia has adopted and called her own. Many of these can now be found in Seattle. If you are looking for fine dining you are out of luck–these are real Aussie dishes, eaten by real Aussies in the suburbs for a mid-week meal.

The Kangaroo & Kiwi interior
On Aurora Avenue you find the Kangaroo and Kiwi Pub, which has a great Outback pub feel and traditional counter meals including pie floaters, lamb sandwiches and sausage rolls. With the good weather, a rugby match or Aussie Rules game, out comes the barbie to chuck on a few snags (sausages!–ed.) or some steak sandwiches.

Probably the most commonly craved midday items are a meat pie and lamington (sponge cake!–ed). This can require a bit of a long lunch run out to Burien to the Aussie Pie Company. When I make this trek I often buy a few frozen ones to chuck in the freezer for later (yes, us Aussies are a lazy bunch).

Weekends open up a slightly longer trip to Kent to the Australian-style fish and chips atNazes Seafood. We’re talking big steak-cut deep-fried chips–not French fries–the perfect side to battered fish fillets garnished with lemon and tartar sauce. They also do potato scallops, homemade lamingtons and provide traditional Aussie fish and chip shop hospitality.

If you are looking for something more specific like perfectly-cooked roast Australian lamb or a sticky date pudding for dessert, call in caterer and personal chef Melinda from Bread and Butter Catering. Her vast catering experience across Australia and ability to keep up with Australian food trends brings a little bit of modern Australian cuisine into your own home.

Lamingtons at Lexis Noosa - Spreading our culinary icon to the Japanese

The great Aussie lamington took a hammering from the crew of Japanese boys. 

The poor, old lamington will never look the same, however the girls prepared lamingtons that looked as though they had come out of our Mother’s kitchens – well done girls. 

Lots of fun was had making them and even more fun eating them!

Lamingtons - the national Australian treat

"Unofficial home of the coconut covered treat, Old Government House at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) will play host to National Lamington Day."

Celebrations for Queensland icon - the Australian Lamington

The Australian lamington.
Break out the sponge cake, chocolate icing and coconut tonight – it’s National Lamington Day!

Australia celebrates its fifth National Lamington Day on 21st July, after the first day to honour the dessert was named in 2006.

The lamington has had a rich and contentious history, New Zealand and Australia still arguing over who first invented the spongy dessert.

But the controversial crumbs will be swept under the rug today as Australia celebrates the lamington, which earned its place with the Big Pineapple and the colour maroon as a Queensland icon in 2006.

Jeff Crawlford, a chef at Brisbane’s “The Boo” restaurant, said the trick to a perfect lamington was having the right ingredients.

“You need a really light sponge and good quality coconut,” he said.

Crawlford said he was a fan of the plain lamington but added it was just as important to have a good drink to go with the dessert.

“A really nice cup of tea – English or Irish Breakfast – or an ice cold glass of milk would be best,” he said.

Although Crawlford admitted he did not have a personal lamington recipe, he said he may have a go at reinventing the classic to honour the National Day.

Queensland’s Old Government House also joined the celebrations, with more than 250 people passing through the House on a lamington-themed tour. The first lamington was said to have been made at the George Street site in 1901 when a maid accidentally dropped the governor’s sponge cake into melted chocolate. The governor’s name? Lord Lamington.

Each of this year’s nine tours ended with a lamington treat for the guests, 520 lamingtons made for the occasion.

But these lamingtons were a little smaller than the one found in Toowoomba last month, the country town recently breaking the record for the World’s Biggest Lamington.

The lamington weighed 2361kgs and easily broke Ipswich’s 2009 record of 1320kg.

And while not everyone needs to make such a big lamington to celebrate the National Day, it is certain lamingtons will be the dessert of choice for many families tonight!

Celebrations for Queensland icon : newsbytes: "

A short history of the world famous Lamington

It shouldn't really be surprising that the lamington was invented by a Frenchman. Predictable, but deeply unsettling. After all, facing of the primacy of French cuisine, how could we find a food culture of our own? Australians could draw proudly on few dishes as a national icon.

Pies were invented by the Poms, as was ‘fish and chips’. Sausage rolls are German, and Bolognese is molto Italiano. Even the pavlova isn’t ours – like Crowded House and Russel Crowe, it’s from New Zealand.

So I had high hopes pinned on the lamington, that quintessentially Australian treat. For it’s not just Australian: it’s from Queensland!

It was a particularly hot summer in 1900, and Brisbane sweltered under a blanket of dank humidity. The Governor, Charles Cochrane-Baillie, 2nd Baron of Lamington, departed for his country house in Toowomba, cradling a dim hope that the mountains would provide some relief. He and Lady Lamington brought their staff along, including their renown chef Armand Gallad.

As was the fashion, myriad guests arrived to visit, and the Governor’s household put on great entertainment. Chef Gallad was kept busy baking and grilling in the kitchen, striving to feed the gourmet hordes.

One afternoon, in an effort to create a novel high tea, he dipped some leftover sponge cake into a light chocolate sauce, then rolled the resulting cakes in coconut. The effect was simple, but very elegant, and decidedly delicious.

Lord Lamington was impressed, almost as much as his guests. Several of the society ladies in attendance requested the recipe for this delectable new treat, and the chef, suitable chuffed, obliged. Next month, the recipe was published in the Queensland Ladies Home Journal, attributed as ‘Lady Lamington’s Chocolate-Coconut Cake’, soon after known by its diminutive, the lamington.

Today there are significant variations in the lamingtons you’ll find around Australia. In Queensland they are still made in the traditional way, while in Victoria and South Australia they are filed with jam. In WA, bakers slice the finished cake in half and fill it with mock cream. But for any version the key remains that you must start with a perfectly light sponge cake, and a chocolate syrup of the right consistency.

If you’ve never made a lamington before, then here’s your chance. Wednesday July 21st is National Lamington Day. To be honest, I’m unsure what it is celebrating, other than the lamington itself. But as any lamington aficionado will tend you, that’s a great festival in its own right.

Not entirely Aussie? Perhaps. But that’s the great thing about our fantastic country – we take the best of everywhere, and make them our own.

Want a recipe for a perfect lamington? Click here.

Bobbylicious: Lazy Sunday Lamington Baking

"Lazy Sunday Lamington Baking. I don't know what came over me to try and attempt this, but I did, and I did good! Who knew yummy lamingtons were so easy to bake? Ingredients: 1 and 1/2 cups of flour. 1 tbsp baking powder ..."

My First Lamington - Pacific Pie Company - Food Freaks Unite

Lamington: A traditional Australian dessert in the shape of a cube. Made of sponge cake that is coated with chocolate icing then sprinkled with coconut.  
An optional filling of jam or cream can be in between the layers of sponge cake. 

I consider myself a dessert aficionado but I’ve never even heard of these cakes before the fine folks at Pacific Pie Company brought these to my attention and expanded my dessert portfolio. 

I’m already a huge fan of their savory and sweet pasties and pies so when the staff told me about their upcoming Australian Day specials, I came back the next day to try them out.

I have to say I really liked this cake. I saved half of it for the next day and ended up eating it for breakfast with my coffee which complimented perfectly with the cake. 

 Why did I only eat half you might ask? Anyone who knows me can attest that I rarely leave any leftovers where dessert is concerned but this time I went all Miss Piggy and bought a peanut butter pie too. 

But back to the lamington…I would have personally wanted more jam filling but overall, it was a good dessert that I’m glad I got the chance to try. 

 It isn’t overly sweet so I’d probably eat it again for a breakfast snack rather than something to satisfy my sweet tooth. For that, I would get their dreamy creamy peanut butter pie. I’ve tried to only eat half of that pie but I have yet to be successful. Yes, it’s just that good.

Toowoomba claims Lamington birth place

 Geoff McDonald and Julian Lancaster-Smith
 are adamant Toowoomba is the home of the lamington.
It is a bit of a sticky situation when it comes to the birth place of the iconic lamington, but Chamber of Commerce president Geoff McDonald was quick to squash Brisbane’s claim to lamington fame.

Today Australians celebrate their love of lamingtons with National Lamington Day and while there is no dispute over whom the chocolate and coconut cake is named after, the birth place of the lamington is surrounded by controversy.

Many believe the lamington was born in Toowoomba’s Harlaxton House when the Governor of Queensland, Lord Lamington, took his entourage to the city to escape the heat while others claim a chef at Queensland’s Government House, Armand Gallad, was called upon to produce something on short notice to feed unexpected guests.

Evidence compiled by University of Southern Queensland’s Professor Emeritus Maurice French suggested the lamington was created when Lord Lamington and his wife visited Toowoomba for a period during mid-December 1900 to mid-February, 1901.

Professor French stated if the lamington was a Harlaxton House concoction, it would have been from that particular period.

“We have only gone by documented evidence,” said Mr McDonald.

“We haven’t dreamt it up, we haven’t fabricated it.”

“Anyone who wants to take us on, do so at your own peril.”

Quality Desserts managing director Julian Lancaster-Smith said the people of Brisbane knew it was not right, but still they laid claim to the birth place of the lamington.