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.

Where did Lamingtons originate?

Lamingtons - A unique history.

Lamington cakes are connected with Australia circa early 20th century. 

There are two popular theories regarding the origin:

"Australia's most famous cake is said to have been named in honour of May, Baroness Lamington, wife of the Queensland governor from 1896 to 1901. There are two theories regarding its invention: one, that it originated in the Government House kitchens as a way of using up stale cake; or, the explanation favoured by the majority of commentators, that it was created by Brisbane cook Amy Schauer. Amy Schauer was born in Sydney in 1871 and trained at the Sydney Technical College before taking up appointment at Brisbane's Central Technical College in 1895, where she continued to teach until 1937. She wrote three cookbooks...In addition, she developed cookery courses for school and technical colleges throughout Queensland, delivered classes in war and invalid cookery...In particular, she was famous for her talent in the area of confectionery, cake decorating and cake baking. Miss Schauer was undoubtedly the most influential figure in Queensland cookery during the first half of the twentieth century...There are several variations on the lamington theme, this classic being small squares of butter cake covered in chocolate icing and coconut but strawberry icing, cream fillings and larger cakes are also well liked. Often they are made with sponge cake but really the lamington butter cake makes the most flavourful ones."
---How to Cook a Galah, Lauel Evelyn Dyson [Lothian:South Melbourne] 2002 (p. 197)

Lord Lamington
"Lamingtons. In 1896, Charles, the 2nd Baron Lamington, arrived in Queensland to take up his appointment as Governor... Baron Lamington seemed to attract goodwill with his pleasant manner...The special little cakes, so prized by Australians in the early 1900s, are popular still, came on to the Queensland food scene first shortly after Baron Lamington and his wife left Australia in 1901... In the introductory pages of 'Mrs. MacLurcan's Cookery Book--A Collection of Practical Recipes Specially Suited for Australia by Hannah MacLurcan,' Lady Lamington wrote a letter of thanks. It is dated April 16, 1898, and written from the Government House, Brisbane. I have to thank you very much for sending me the copy of your most useful book of cookery, which I consider a particularly well arranged work, as the recipes are so clearly given, with not too many details to bewilder the reader, and I think my Household will be the better of having a copy. I wish the work all sucess...May Lamington.'
---A Look at Yesteryear: Early Australian Cookery, Valerie McKenzie & Joyce Allen [Centennial Publications:Sydney NSW] 1980 (p. 114)

"Cakes which our women can lay claim to, even if based on borrowed principles, included lamingtons, Anzac biscuits and the pavlova. Lamingtons, the chocolate and coconut coated cubes of cake which appeared in recipe books about the First World War, would seem to be named after Baron Lamington, who was governor of Queensland from 1895 to 1901. A nice embellishment to the theory is that the word refers to a "lamina" of gold, apricot jam filling to provide moisture to left-over cake...Determining which cakes are uniquely Australian would be a major research project."
---One Continuous Picnic: A History of Eating in Australia, Michael Symons [Penguin:Ringwood Victoria] 1982 (p. 149)

"Lamington, a small cake covered with chocolate icing and rolled in coconut. They are an Australian specialty...It cannot be proved that they were invented in the kitchens of Government House...the first known printed recipe for lamingtons 1902 in the cookery section of the Queenslander, a weekly newspaper, credited simply to A Subscriber'."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 440)

"Lamington Cake (From a Subscriber)
The weight of 2 eggs in butter, sugar and flour; 2 eggs; 1/2 tsp. baking poweder. Beat the butter to a cream, add the sugar and yolks of eggs, one by one, then the whites beaten stiff, lastly add flour and baking powder, Bake in a moderate oven. When cold cut the cake like a sandwich and put the white mixture between, then cut into small pices and cover on all sides with the chocolate mixture. Dip the cakes into grated coconut and put in a cool place. The Mixture: 4 Tbs. butter, 1 1/2 cups icing sugar, beat to a cream, and divide equally in two basins. To one half add 1 1/2 tsp. cocoa dissolved in 3 tsp. boiling water. Beat well. (Queenslander, 4 January 1902)."
---A Good Plain Cook: Am Edible History of Queensland, Susan Addison and Judith McKay [Boolarong Publications:Brisbane Queensland] 1985 (p. 76)

"Lamington Cake
Beat together 1 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 cup of butter till white; add 5 eggs, beaten well with a whisk, to which 1/2 cup of milk has been added; beat well five minutes, then add 2 1/2 cups of flour, sifted with 1/2 teaspoonful of soda and 1 of cream of tartar; put into a greased tin and bke in a moderate oven for two hours; spread, when cold, with chocolate icing, and sprinkle with coocanut."
---The Schauer Cookery Book, By Misses A. and M. Schauer [Edwards, Dunlop & Co. Ltd.:Brisbane] 1909 (p. 321)

"Lamington Cake and Icing
1/2 cup of butter, 1 cup of mik, 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, 3 eggs, 1 teaspoon baking soad, 2 teaspoons cream tartar. Beat butter to a cream, then beat in eggs one at a time, dissolve sugar in the milk with the soda, add to the butter and eggs, then beat in the siftd flour and cream of tartar. Bake in a flat dish for 40 minutes. Icing: Place 1 lb. icing sugar in a basin with one tablespoon butter, and mix well. Dissolve 4 'teasooons of cocoa in 3 tablespoons of boiling water with teaspoon of vanilla, beat all well together. When cake is cold, cut it into squares, and cover with icing, then roll in desiccated cocoanut."
---The Schauer Cookery Book, Sixth edition [W.R. Smith & Paterson LTD.:Brisbane, Queensland] 1928 (p. 440)

Cream 4 oz. butter and 4 oz. sugar together. When white add 2 well-beaten eggs gradually, then small 1/2 cup milk and vanilla alst. Add 6 oz. self-raising flour sifted twice. Bake in a square shallow cake tin for about half an hour in a very moderate oven. Allow to get cold, then cut into uniform squares. Put a fork into each square. Cover with chocolate icing, toss in cocoanut, and decorate with a little piece of chopped nut or cherry. Icing.--Sift 1/2 lb. of icing sugar. Add 2 tablespoons of cocoa dissolved in 2 tablespoons of boiling water, flavour with vanilla. Add a little milk if necessary to bring to a consistency that will just coat."
---The Schauer Australian Cookery Book, Eleventh edition [W.R. Smith & Paterson PTY. Ltd.:Brisbane Queensland] 1956 (p. 485-486)

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