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.

Lamingtons - a truly Australian treat - with recipe

Vancouver baker Jackie Kai Ellis shares
 here recipe for an Australian
 treat, Lamingtons.
I have an intense affinity for those recipes so ingrained in a cultural identity that every citizen and their descendants hold a passport to the dish. 

The requirements for entry are only their mouths and their fondest memories of it.

Learning about the Australians love for the lamington can only be akin to Canadians love for the chocolate chip cookie. The best? 

The one mom made of course, whether it be chewy, cakey, crispy, milk or dark.
In the case of lamingtons, the most debated variations seem to be: Jam or plain in the middle? Butter or sponge cake?

If I were a purist, I would surely ask Lord Lamington, a former governor of the Australian State of Queensland, his thoughts on the variations.

As for where it came from, the legends are varied from maids accidentally dropping cake into chocolate, to chefs desperately creating solutions for important, unexpected guests.

Regardless of how they came to be, it only needs to be known that they were delightful.


I boldly decided to create an ever so slight variation on the classic. Not to worry as I’ve added notations (*) on how to adjust it to the original, so as to satisfy the longing for nostalgia.

For the genoise cake:

10 tbsp (150 mL) butter

1 tsp (5 mL) real vanilla extract

1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar

3 large eggs

4 large egg yolks

¼ tsp (2.5 mL) lemon zest (*optional)

1 cup (250ml) cake flour, sifted

1/4 cup (60ml) cornstarch, sifted

¼ tsp fine sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 deg. F. Grease an 8” x 8” (20.3 x 20.3 cm) pan and line with parchment. Make a beurre noisette by heating the butter in a small saucepan on medium-high heat until it bubbles and turns to a medium brown colour. (Be careful as this burns easily.) Let cool until warm to the touch.

In another small pot, boil water to create a double boiler. In a heatproof mixing bowl, add sugar, eggs and yolks and whisk constantly over the boiling water until the eggs feel warm to the touch.

Transfer the bowl to a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, whisk until the mixture is light yellow and tripled in volume, about 5-7 minutes.

Incorporate the sifted flour and cornstarch in two additions, folding with a large spatula until there are only a few streaks of flour remaining.

Drizzle the beurre noisette into the batter in two additions, folding in well after each one being careful not to deflate the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Remove from the oven when a wooden tester comes out with a few crumbs remaining. Allow to cool completely.

For finishing:

*I decided to use a thin ganache, as it would provide the most chocolate flavour without being overly sweet. Feel free to use a traditional chocolate icing.

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