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.

Australian Desserts and Cakes are tops but the Lamington is our all-time favourite

Favourite Aussie Sweet Treats

We love our Australian desserts and cakes and because we are such a multi-cultural society we have dessert and cakes from all over the world.

Like ice-cream, chocolate pudding, sticky date pudding, chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, caramel slice, pineapple upside down cake, trifle, all sorts of puddings and cakes.... well you get the picture and I'm getting carried away here and hungry so enough of that!

Even though a lot of the favourites sweet treats we eat are from other places there are a few uniquely Australian desserts too; or are they?

We thought we'd just give you a brief history of three of our favourites and the mystery surrounding their beginnings and you can decide.

Australian lamington with filled cream

Now lamingtons are a favourite in Australia, either as an Australian dessert or just as a cake with a cuppa.

Along with some other favourites it rates right up there as a sweet treat that we in Australia enjoy.

The history of how lamingtons evolved is a bit debatable and quite interesting really.

Having done some research and remembering from my childhood, there are different stories of how the cake came about and whichever is the correct story will probably remain a bit of a mystery, but what fun to debate the real origin of the sweet!

Lord Lamington -
after whom
 are named.
One thing I think we can be sure of the dessert was in some way related to Lord Lamington who was the Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901.

It is reported however that Lord Lamington was believed to have disliked the dessert cakes that had been named in his honour, referring to them as "those bloody poofy woolly biscuits".

And so onto the stories of how the humble and delicious Lamington was born.

So to the first story: Apparently the French born chef to the Governor, Gallad, was asked to produce food when unexpected guests arrived during the Federation celebrations in 1901. He found left over vanilla sponge cake and to freshen it up dropped it in chocolate and smothered it in coconut.

The second story says that the lamington was first served to the Governor and his guests when Governor Lamington and his entourage left the hot steamy weather in Brisbane to go to Toowoomba to try and escape the heat.

And finally the third and quite interesting tale is that Gallad accidently dropped the sponge cake into a dish of chocolate. It was later sprinkled with coconut to make it look more appealing.

Coconut was not widely used in those days but Gallad's wife was from Tahiti so he was aware of the appeal of it and how it was used in a variety of ways.

It was reported that Lady Lamington's guest enjoyed the cake so much they requested the recipe.

I don't think it really matters which story is correct because the basics are the same; the French chef to the Governor, Armand Gallad, created the cakes for Governor Lamington and guests at some stage and the Australian dessert eventually got the name it has today the humble Lamington. Delicious!

Get the Lamingtons recipe from our Australian Recipes page.

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