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.

Is this the best ever Lamington recipe?

The Australian lamington.
One of Australia's national treasures, lamingtons are perfect paired with a cup of tea and are a welcome addition at any party. If you've never tried making your own, follow these simple steps to guaranteed success.

All about lamingtons

First invented in Queensland as a way to turn stale cake into something delicious, lamingtons are now a national treasure. 

While it's hard to find exactly how they came to be, one of the best stories states that a kitchen maid to Lord Lamington, the governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901, dropped a sponge cake into chocolate sauce and then turned it into bite size cakes as a way to save the situation. 

He liked them so much, they kept being made and eventually these little cakes were given his name.

Step 1: Choose your recipe
The best way to ensure success is to start with a great recipe. Here are some of our best recipes to help you out. However, never forget that if all else fails it's fine to use a packaged sponge mix baked in your lamington pan.

Also, to make sure your cakes don't fall part in the icing, make sure you make them a day before and put them in the fridge an hour before icing to dry out the surface.

Step 2: Make your sponge
Although sponges have a reputation for being tricky to make, they are actually quite easy, especially with the help of a good electric mixer and a very light hand. Here are some sponge making tips to help you get your cake just right:
Make sure your eggs are at room temperature before you begin beating them.
Triple sift your flour to ensure it is light and full of air before you begin.
Beat your eggs in a deep bowl, rather than a wide one, to allow the air to get trapped in the whites and ensure maximum volume.
Use a metal spoon to gently fold the flour into the eggs, ensuring you only mix until it's just combined.
Remember it's all about a light hand - handle the mix with care and you'll be rewarded with a light, fluffy sponge.

Step 3: Cut them up
Use a large serrated knife to trim off the sides of the sponge so that each lamington will be a perfect size. Once your sponge is ready, cut it into equal sized pieces. To ensure you get them just right you can even follow the CWA's example and use a ruler!

Step 4: Add icing
The traditional lamington icing in chocolate; however, you can make them any colour or flavour you like. Here are a few tips to ensure you get the perfect coat:
To make traditional chocolate lamingtons, ensure you sift together the icing sugar and cocoa before adding the melted butter and boiling water. You want the finished icing to be runny, smooth and glossy. If it's thick, it will be impossible to evenly coat the lamingtons.
If you'd prefer to make a pink version of the icing, omit the chocolate and add a few drops of pink food colouring.
To ice the sponge, use two forks to lower each cake into the icing mixture. Ensure it's evenly coated then pull it out and plop it into the coconut.

Step 5: Coat with coconut
As soon as the lamingtons come out of their icing bath, drop them into a bowl full of desiccated or shredded coconut. Use your hands to sprinkle extra coconut over the lamingtons to ensure they're evenly coated, then place them on a tray to dry.

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