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.

Classic Lamingtons made easy

Classic Australian Lamington.
Each year when Australia Day rolls around, we Aussie’s celebrate by feasting on the food that we’re well known for having… 

Big ol’ barbies, sausage sizzles, Vegemite sandwiches, meat pies with tomato sauce, ice cold glasses of Milo, a slice of Pavlova (even though it’s a dish claimed by the Kiwi’s!) and then, of course, there is the classic lamington! 

A simple sponge square lathered in rich chocolate icing and then covered completely in a sweet coconut crumb! Oh my!

Some versions of the lamington have either jam or cream sandwiched in the middle, but my little homemade ones are just the simple classic kind!

Here’s what you’ll need to make this recipe!

For the sponge:
6 eggs
150g of caster sugar
50g of corn flour
75g of plain flour
50g of self-raising flour

For the chocolate icing:
500g of sifted icing sugar
50g of sifted cocoa powder
15g of melted butter
2/3 a cup of milk
160g of desiccated coconut (you may need more if it comes to it)

To make:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
  • Sift the three flours together into a bowl and then again into another. Place them to one side to be sifted for the third time into the mixture at the end.
  • Next, break all 6 eggs into a large bowl and beat them together using an electric mixer for 10 minutes until they are thick and creamy.
  • Gradually add the sugar one spoonful at a time until dissolved into the mixture.
  • Sift in the flour into the mixture and then with a slotted metal spoon, gently fold the in flour.
  • Pour the mixture into a pre-lined rectangular tin, carefully spreading the mixture into the corners.
  • Place in the oven and allow it to bake for about 30 minutes.
  • Once cooked, place on a wire rack to cool for a few minutes. Then gently remove it from the tin and peel back the baking paper to allow it to cool completely.
  • Once the sponge is cool, cut it up into 16 to 20 equal squares.
  • Make the icing by mixing the icing sugar and cocoa together in a large bowl. Add the melted butter and milk then mix until smooth.
  • Using one hand, dip a sponge square into the chocolate icing, covering it completely. Drain off the excess and then toss a heap load of coconut all over it using your other hand.
  • Place the lamington onto a wire rack to set and repeat the process with the rest of the sponge squares.

MAKES: 16-20 square lamingtons

Scrumptious Aussie lamingtons.

Recipe inspiration has come from the book, ‘Baking Day’ written and published by The Australian Women’s Weekly.

Here are some home-truths about this recipe before you get started…

At the end half of this recipe, things can get quite a bit messy! 

You will end up dripping chocolate icing everywhere!

When I use the term ‘a heap load of coconut’, I mean it! You really do just need to cover the crap out of it to ensure the icing doesn’t drip off!

Don’t get too hung up about cutting the perfect sponge square! Life’s too short to be faffing about with that kind of stuff! The more lop-sided they are, the better!


No comments: