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.

Gluten free and dairy free Lamingtons made easy

The gluten free and dairy free Aussie lamington
Try these gluten free and dairy free delicacies.

With Australia Day approaching I wanted to try and make a paleo version of lamingtons. For my international readers, lamington is an iconic Australian dessert – squares of sponge cake dipped in chocolate icing and desiccated coconut. Yeah, it’s super complicated and that’s how we Aussies like it…especially on Australia Day.

My version of this treat (yes, paleo or not paleo this is a treat and should be left to those special occasions) uses a homemade baked sponge cake made with grain free flours, coconut oil instead of butter and rice malt syrup instead of sugar. A few of my paleo loving buddies came over to try some and the verdit was, and I quote, ‘it looks like a lamington, smells like a lamington, definitely tastes like a lamington but it’s more moist and dense, not as fluffly, but it’s really good’.

Cooking notes (it gets nerdy so feel free to skip to the Ingredients)

The texture of my paleo lamington is slightly different to what you’re used to. For starters, the sponge layer is thinner as I used a larger surface baking tray and therefore the mixture didn’t come up as high as you get with a smaller tray. I therefore decided to build a two level lamington with chocolate icing in between. You can use a smaller tray, bake taller sponge cake and make a single layer lamington instead. Either way, the texture will be spongy but a little more moist and dense because of almond meal. You can try experimenting with a ratio of tapioca to almond meal as I suspect the fluffiness will change with more tapioca. I actually quite like my texture as I normally find lamingtons a little dry.

I used Pureharvest rice malt syrup as a sweetener – it contains virtually no fructose and is comprised of maltrose and glucose, which provide a steady supply of energy. It’s recommended by David Gillespie, the author of Sweet Poison, and the guys at the Perfect Health Diet. I use it every now and then for its neutral taste. I don’t have an issue with brown rice being its source because it has no gluten and it has been fermented and soaked (thus removing phytic acid, lectins and other toxins) before being cooked down to syrup.

There have been concerns over arsenic levels in brown rice, which is what the rice malt syrup is made from, but my research shows that Pureharvest rice malt syrup has been tested and its levels of arsenic are way below the permitted levels as set by the Australian Food & Safety. The American FDA do not have any standards set for arsenic in food or beverages, and are in general many years behind Australia and New Zealand in the development and implementation of Food Safety systems, so the concerns are mainly for brown rice products from overseas. Best to check labels and to contact producers with any questions about the ingredients and their origin if you’re not sure.

Now that I’ve tried to justify my use of rice malt syrup, other alternatives to achieve a similar taste are maple syrup or coconut syrup (use less as it’s usually sweeter). You can use honey but you will definitely taste it in the cake and the icing. If you use green leaf stevia, that will also work. YOUR CHOICE!

This whole recipe contains around 160 grams of carbohydrates (from starch and sugars) and around 55 grams of sugar (mostly from the syrup). You will get about 16 rectangular lamingtons, so that’s about 10 grams of carbs and 3.5 grams of sugar per single lamington. Knowing that, you can decide how many pieces you should really be consuming. I’m going for two ;)


For the sponge cake
3 whole eggs
1/2 cup tapioca flour
3/4 cup almond meal
2/3 tsp gluten free baking powder
just under 2/3 cup coconut oil, melted
4 tbsp rice malt syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the chocolate and coconut icing
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2/3 cup coconut oil
2 tbsp rice malt syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp coconut or almond milk
1 1/2 cup desiccated coconut (unsweetened)


Preheat oven to 165C (330F).
Grease a 2 cm-deep, 20cm x 30cm (base) baking tray pan with some olive oil. Line with baking paper, leaving a small overhang on all sides. The oil will soak through making the paper easier to mould to the tray.

Dissolve coconut oil, malt syrup and vanilla extract and whisk together until well incorporated, set aside. Measure out tapioca flour and almond meal.

Using an electric mixer on high setting, beat eggs for 5 minutes until thick and foamy. Gradually add coconut oil mix while beating the eggs. Add baking powder, tapioca and almond meal. Get a whisk and fold for 10-15 seconds until final ingredients are incorporated. You could also use an electric mixer on the lowest setting. Pour mixture into the prepared pan. Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Turn the sponge cake onto a wire rack and set aside to cool completely.

When the sponge cake has cooled down, trim the edges off and cut into 4 equal strips.

To make chocolate icing, combine coconut oil, cocoa, vanilla, coconut milk and rice syrup in a bowl. Blend using an electric mixer on low setting or a whisk for 1 minute. Spread coconut on a plate.

Spread a thin layer of chocolate icing on one side of the sponge cake strips. It’ll look like Vegemite toast :) Stick each two strips into one, chocolate sides in. Cut strips into equal lamington pieces – as small or as big as you like.

In this final stage, you have to work pretty fast as the icing will start to harden a little. If the icing starts to set, add 1-2 tablespoons of hot water and whisk through again. Using two forks, dip and coat lamington squares with a thin layer of chocolate icing and then dip and roll in coconut. Set aside on a wire rack.

Stand for 1-2 hours before serving. Store in an air-tight container, placed on some baking paper, for a few days. You can store in the fridge but they will firm up.

Preparation time: 40 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes + cooling time

Number of servings: around 16 squares

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