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 Lamingtons - easy to make

Gluten free lamingtons
Preparation time: 40 minutes
 + 40 minutes cooling and 20 minutes chilling time

Baking time: 20 minutes |

Makes: 9

Good gluten-free cakes are sometimes hard to come by. Moist and flavoursome, these lamingtons won’t disappoint. 

Those with gluten or wheat intolerances and sensitivities won’t ever have to compromise if wanting to enjoy this Australian classic.

80 ml (⅓ cup) thickened cream, whisked to firm peaks
180 g (2 cups) desiccated coconut, to coat

Gluten Free Butter Cake
175g (1¼ cups) purchased plain gluten-free flour mix
2½ teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
165g (¾ cup) caster sugar
125g unsalted butter, cubed, softened
2 eggs, at room temperature
80ml (⅓ cup) milk
2 teaspoon natural vanilla extract or essence

Chocolate Icing
465g (3¾ cups) pure icing sugar
55g (½ cup) cocoa powder
150ml boiling water1½ teaspoon vanilla essence

To make the gluten-free butter cake, preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 20 x 30cm (base measurement) shallow cake tin and line the base and two longs sides with one piece of baking paper.

Put the flour, baking powder, sugar, butter, eggs, milk and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 3 minutes or until the mixture is well combined and very pale in colour. Spoon the mixture into the lined tin and spread evenly using the back of a spoon. Lightly tap the tin on the bench 3 times to get rid of any excess air bubbles.

Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool for 5 minutes in the tin, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely (this will take about 40 minutes).

To make the chocolate icing, sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder into a medium bowl. Add the boiling water and vanilla and stir until smooth (it should be the consistency of pouring cream).

Trim the edges of the cooled cake and then cut in half to form two layers about 20 x 15 cm. Spread one half of the cake with a little of the Chocolate Icing and then spread whipped cream. Top with the remaining cake half. Chill for 20 minutes or until the cream is firm enough to cut the cake.

Use a sharp serrated knife to cut the layered cake into 9 portions (about 6.5 x 4.5 cm each). Run a palette knife around the cut surface of each lamington to remove any excess cream.

Spread the coconut on a tray or plate. Rest a cake portion on a fork, dip into the chocolate icing and then and spoon the icing over the top and sides to completely coat. Allow any extra icing to drip off. Roll the cake in the coconut to coat evenly. Place on a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining cake portions, icing and coconut.

Baker's Tips
If the icing becomes to thick while you are coating the cake pieces, stir in enough extra boiling water, adding it a teaspoon at a time, to thin to the right consistency.

These lamingtons will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. Stand at room temperature for at least 30 minute before serving.

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