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.

Sydney's Bennelong restaurant re-opens and is serving Cherry Jam Lamingtons


Fresh face of restaurant result of multi-million dollar re-fit
New design will seat 99, with another 40 in the bar
Be prepared to shell out $125 for three-course experience

AFTER what seems like an age for Sydney foodies, the iconic Bennelong restaurant reopens under a sail of the Sydney Opera House tomorrow.

Exactly 18 months after the doors closed on Guillaume Brahimi’s Bennelong, chef Peter Gilmore and restaurateur John Fink are waiting in anticipation for the first official customers to walk through the door tomorrow night after a multi-million dollar refit.

“I’m not nervous at all, to be honest. I’m really pumped,” Fink said. “It’s one of the greatest privileges of my professional life.”

Gilmore and Fink, staff, friends and family have been trialling the menu and different spaces for almost two weeks, including the restaurant proper, a bar, a semi-private dining space and the casual “Cured & Cultured” section. Chefs to have enjoyed a sneak peak inside include Alex Herbert and Martin Boetz.

The restaurant’s stunning new interior space.

The Bennelong kitchen crew get cracking.

“We started with family and friends so it was nice and easy, we were just trying to get a feel of the space. It’s like test-driving a Maserati around the block,” Fink says.

“Then we get industry professionals to come in and you expect them to tear you to shreds.

“But we are still driving the Maserati. We’ve now got stickers on the side and the helmet on and we are ready to go.

“I think we’ve spent close to two weeks in a training period. In the first week we did a whole day on HR, workplace policies, health policies, sexual harassment, use of IP and IT, hygiene, how to wash your hands, everything.”

The Bennelong: All lit up and ready to start again.

The new restaurant, which will seat 99 in the dining room and 40 in the bar area, will feature a $125 three-course a la carte dinner menu with six entree and seven main course options, plus a two-course lunch menu for $80, or three courses for $130.

Patriarch of the restaurant group, Leon Fink, didn’t have much to say, his son said.

“I know when he’s happy, he doesn’t talk much. You know you really have to do something when he starts to say something.”

Entrees include Queensland scallops with dory caviar, cultured cream and citrus, slow-cooked heirloom pumpkin, Bruny Island C2 cream, Manjimup truffle and roasted seeds or grilled Lady Elliot Island bug, fermented chilli, organic turnips and radishes.

Mains include roasted John Dory served on the bone, orach, turnips, kalian and umami butter,

King George whiting, sea scallops, leeks, native parsley, celery heart, ice plant broadbeans and kale, Flinders Island salt grass lamb, nasturtiums, anchovy salt or Macleay Valley suckling pig, with black garlic and “smoky juices”.

The Bennelong team before completion of the renovation.

There are also vegetarian options including a dish of ancient grains, eggplant, mushrooms and hazelnuts.

There will also be a selection of seafood and charcuterie at the Cured & Cultured bar such as

Sydney rock oysters with lemon and pepper granita, raw Mooloolaba yellow fin tuna, mushroom soy, pickled white radish and sesame oil, a dish of red claw yabbies with lemon jam, cultured cream and buckwheat pikelets or a salad of saltwater chicken, udon, palm heart, sesame and peanuts, plus Byron Bay black pig prosciutto and smoked Wagyu tartare.

Or just stay for a $28 dessert, including the classic pavlova with a Gilmore twist of Opera House sails, a cherry jam lamington, strawberries and cream or “chocolate cake from across the water”, a reference to Quay, Gilmore and Finks other famous venue on the other side of Sydney Cove at the recently refurbished Overseas Passenger Terminal.

Bennelong now puts the Fink Group in three prominent positions on the city side of Sydney Harbour, as they also have Otto, the modern Italian restaurant, under chef Richard Ptacnik, on the next headland at Woolloomooloo.

The Bennelong team includes (from left) sommelier Russell Mills, restaurant manager Neil Walkington, general manager Kylie Ball, chefs Rob Cockerill and Peter Gilmore and owner John Fink.

NZ secret cake club enjoys Aussie Lamingtons

Secret cake club opens doors

Helen Cox, fourth from left, started a
Kiwi Clandestine Cake Club after
reading the UK club recipe book.

There's a new club in town and its members indulge in the secretive eating of cake.

Clandestine Cake Clubs are popular worldwide and Helen Cox has cooked one up in Auckland.

Nine people gathered for a slice of the action, and of the cake, at the first meeting in Cox's Browns Bay home.

The Clandestine Cake Club's first
 meeting set a high standard.

Internationally, the clubs follow the same recipe and there are few rules.

No one knows the venue until just days before and as long as you've registered, you'll be sent an email with the location.

Bakers can bring a non-baking friend to help eat the cake but don't expect to be let in with rule-breaking cupcakes, cookies, brownies, pies or tarts.

Each meeting has a theme, Auckland's first is, "Sweet As – Quintessential Kiwi Cakes".

Ohakune carrot cake, a lamington and hokey pokey cake, and of course a buzzy bee are among the seven the theme draws to the table.

"That's the beauty and the magic. It's completely up to each person's interpretation of the theme," says Cox.

Although all cakes are welcome and taste buds are kind judges, presentation standards are high and some bakers spent hours on their edible projects.

Cox is on maternity leave from her personal assistant job and says there's no such thing as a bad cake.

"As long as it's made with love and with fun. Having fun is the most important thing."

After a slice of each cake it takes a while for everyone to move. When they do, it's back to the table to cut up and hand out leftovers to take home.

Cox hopes to whisk up more members before the next meeting but says it's hard spreading the word to people outside her personal network.

Discussions decide next month's theme, "A Slice of Cake".

The mission is to turn a slice, such as caramel or ginger, into cake form.

All the members know for now is it will be held somewhere in Takapuna.

The first Clandestine Cake Club was started in Britain in 2010. There are now more than 30 in 16 countries including one in Christchurch.

To find out more and join the Auckland club, go to the clubs tab at

Australian Lamington cakes with quince

Makes 12

There's nothing like a small baked treat with a delicious twist to improve any occasion. I love a good lamington, and my favourite condiment is quince paste. I have put them together here for a tart twist on the Aussie classic that can be served for any occasion.

Lamingtons, but fancy!

  • 115g butter, at room temperature
  • 200g castor sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 180g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 240ml milk, at room temperature
  • 400g icing sugar, sifted
  • 35g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 45g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2-3 cups desiccated coconut
  • 200g quince paste, warmed and pureed 
  • 300ml cream, whipped to soft peaks


Preheat the oven to 180C and line a 12-muffin tin with paper patty pans.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.

In a separate bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and 120ml milk to the butter mix. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Evenly fill the patty pan cups with the batter and bake for about 18 minutes or until just set and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cooled, remove paper patty pans carefully. Place the icing sugar and cocoa powder in a bowl.

Heat the butter and remaining 120ml of milk in a small microwave-safe bowl until the butter is melted then pour into the icing sugar mix. Stir the mixture until it reaches a smooth pouring consistency.

Place the coconut on a large plate. One at a time, dip the cupcakes into the chocolate coating then roll the cakes in the coconut. Gently transfer the lamingtons to a clean wire rack to set.

Once set, use a small paring knife to cut out a teaspoon-sized hole in the top of the cake and fill with quince puree. Pipe cream on top of each cake and serve.

TIP: Icing the lamington cakes is easier with two people: one to dip each cake in the chocolate, the other to coat it in coconut, so you don't have to clean the icing off your hands each time.

Makes 12

Main Ingredients - Eggs, Cream/Milk, Coconut
Cuisine - Modern Australian
Course - Dessert, Snacks, Finger-food
Occasion - Australia Day, Morning/Afternoon Tea, Birthday, Picnic