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.

Very easy Australian Lamington recipe

Australian Lamington.
Lamington Recipe

Create your very own, simple to make lamingtons with this easy to follow 20 step recipe.

Severing size: 24 pieces

Ingredients for Cake:
2 cups of all-purpose flour
4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of butter at room temperature
3/4 cup of white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 eggs at room temperature
1/2 of cup milk
Ingredient for Icing:
4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup of sifted cocoa powder
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup of warm milk
1 pound unsweetened & dried coconut

Cooking Instruction:
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees. Grease & flour a 8×12 pan
Sift the flour, baking powder & salt together and set aside
Beat 1/2 cup of butter & 3/4 cup of sugar with an electric-mixer and in a very large bowl until light & fluffy. Note: This mixture should be noticeably lighter in colour.
Add eggs, one at a time and allow each egg to blend right into the butter mixture and then add the next.
Now beat in vanilla with the very last egg.
Pour in the flour-mixture alternately with milk, mixing until incorporated.
Pour this batter into your prepared pan
Bake in preheated oven until the toothpick inserted into this cake comes out very clean, 30 to 40 minutes should suffice
Allow it to stand for 5 minutes & then turn-out onto the wire rack & cool it completely.
Wrap with a plastic wrap & store it overnight at room temperature to give this cake the chance to firm-up before slicing.

Icing Method:
In a large bowl, combine all the confectioners’ sugar & cocoa
Now add the melted butter & warm milk & mix them well to create a fluid (not too runny) icing.

Final Steps of the lamington making process…
Cut the sponge cake into 24-squares.
Place the parchment paper/ waxed paper on the work surface
Set the wire rack on this paper
Pour out the shredded coconut into a small shallow bowl
Use a fork, and dip each square into this icing, coating all the sides
Roll them in the coconut
Place onto rack to dry
Continue the process till all the lamingtons are coated.
Why Australia Consumes
Tons of Lamingtons,

July has just gone past, but there was something special about it in Australia… The Lamington Day! Though lamingtons are an all-time favourite in the land Down Under, they are equally loved the world over. 

This culinary icon has been named after Lord Lamington, who was the 8th Governor of Queensland. On 19 Dec 2001, the lamington turned a century old but it retains its youthful flavour to this day.

The true Australian treat

Sure, there are some who will claim that New Zealand is the creator of the lamington but that is not much more than hogwash. The lamington was and is as Australian as Vegemite, Pavlova, Peach Melba and kangaroos are. Not that it needs any introduction, but a lamington is a sponge cake that has been dunked in chocolate and then sprinkled very liberally with fresh, desiccated coconut.

Just like many other great discoveries, this too was created by accident by a maid-servant who worked for Lord Lamington. Regardless of whether you like the classic version or prefer a culinary mash-up, the lamington is delicious to its “jammy” core.

How to make it taste even better

Creating the perfect sponge

Some expert bakers say that the secret to a perfect sponge is to ensure that the batter is mixed in a single direction and that you keep as much air inside it as possible, that’s the way to get the sponginess right. Those who are not so purist will also make a lamington with a butter cake or a mud cake for chocolate creations that are definitely more sinful.

To jam or not to jam…

Many bakers will not use jam in the lamingtons as they feel that it ruins the subtle flavour of the sponge. On the other hand, some feel that this treat does well with the little surprise quotient that the jam centre provides. If you are experimenting, you can try using marmalade, citrus curd, blackberry or cherry jam. Some home bakers also replace the desiccated coconut with shredded coconut. This covers up any imperfections in shape and it tastes delicious too.

Getting the coconut just right

Those who do not like the rawness of desiccated coconut can toast the shredded coconut and then use that for rolling the lamingtons. Those who want to go a little quirky with their cooking can also use macadamia nuts and other seasonal ingredients like mango to stud their creations. If you are using fruits in it, then keep in mind that you will have to adjust the recipe of the sponge itself.

Helpful Tips:
Before you dunk the lamingtons in the chocolate, add the jam and then stick them in the freezer- this helps them retain their shape. But if you have used butter in your recipe, skip the freezing step… it will ruin the texture of the sponge.

For the icing, you can use ganache or hot icing mixture and it sets almost instantaneously in the latter. If you have a bakery, it’s a good idea to have a production line while the lamingtons are being assembled. That’s the best way to get the timing right.

Once the coated sponge has been rolled in the desiccated/shredded coconut, simply pop the lamingtons into the freezer again.

And some more…

For those who are allergic to gluten, some skilled experimental bakers also use flour substitutes like tapioca, rice and chickpea as well as a little potato starch. There really are no limitations to the number of flavours you can use while you are making these delectable morsels. Bakers across Australia set different variants of lamingtons on their bakery shelves and patrons keep coming back for more.

All of this is probably why Australians consume tons of lamingtons.

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