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.

Who invented the Lamington? - Australia, New Zealand or Scotland


"Those bloody poofy woolly biscuits."

Who really invented the lamington, widely regarded as one of Australia's culinary gifts to the world? 

For those unfortunates who have yet to taste one, it's a small cube of sponge cake coated all over with soft chocolate and desiccated coconut.

It was named after the second Lord Lamington, Governor of Queensland from 1895 to 1901. Australia, New Zealand, England and Scotland have all been suggested to have originated the recipe.

"The world-famous Australian Lamington turned 100 years on 19 December 2001," says a story on (of all unlikely places) the Ipswich (Queensland) City Council's website. "The national icon, consisting 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 nervous maid servant was working at Government House in Brisbane when she accidentally dropped the Governor's favourite sponge cake into some chocolate. Lord Lamington was not a person of wasteful habits and suggested that it be dipped in coconut so as to cover the chocolate to avoid messy fingers.

"The maid servant's error was proclaimed a magnificent success by all! And so the humble lamington was born!"

That's a good story, but sadly that's probably all it is - a story. Here's another version:

John Hepworth (1921-1995) journalist, playwright and poet was for many years editor of the Nation Review, which he helped establish. In its July 1977 issue, he records this incident as having occurred at a glittering banquet in the outback town of Cloncurry (Queensland):

"An irascible diner seized a piece of spongecake which had dropped into a dish of brown gravy and hurled it over his shoulder in a fairly grumpy manner. The soggy piece of cake landed in a dish of shredded coconut which was standing on the sideboard waiting for the service of an Indian curry.

A certain Agnes Lovelightly, in a flash of genius, saw the possibility of substituting chocolate sauce for the brown gravy, and so the lamington was born.

It would have been nice ... had this great good gateau been named for the humble genius whose invention, or divine perception, it was. But in the snobby bumsucking manner of the day it was named in honor of Baron Lamington, who was Governor of Queensland at the time.

For many years lamingtons were served on state ceremonial occasions in Queensland and won universal approbation. But Baron Lamington himself could by no means abide them. He invariably (and somewhat oddly) referred to them as "those bloody poofy woolly biscuits."

Quoting that extract from Hepworth's article, Frederick Ludowyk, editor of the Australian National University's Ozwords, (who modestly signs his article with his initials, F.L.) added: "The village of Lamington in Scotland may be a false eponym, but [in England] there is Leamington (Spa) in Warwickshire, and Lemmington in Northumberland. It is just possible that the lamington has its origin in a British place name. Do any readers have an ancient English recipe book which includes a recipe for a lemmington (or leamington) cake?".

Lord Lamington
Some Scots claim that a sheep shearer's wife in the village of Lamington made the cake for a group of itinerant shearers. We decided to Ask Jeeves about Lamington, Scotland, and found that it's a village in Lanarkshire on the left bank of the Clyde, 37 miles south of Edinburgh. Alexander Dundas Ross Cochrane Baillie was Conservative member for Bridport, Lanarkshire, Honiton, and the Isle of Wight at various periods from 1846 to 1880, when he became the first Baron Lamington. He held 10,833 acres in the shire. "His mansion, Lamington House, finely-seated on the hill-slope a little E of the village, is a modern Elizabethan edifice, with pleasant grounds."

As for New Zealand, many Kiwis firmly believe they invented not only lamingtons, but also that other famous Oz delicacy, the pavlova

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