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.

Making gluten-free Lamingtons is a breeze in a Thermomix

Gluten-free lamingtons. Pic: Thermomix
Australia's national culinary icon has become even easier to make thanks to Thermomix.

Making gluten-free lamingtons in a Thermomix is a breeze, bringing this unique taste sensation into more homes than ever before.

Give it a go today.

The Ingredients

Butter cake

120 g unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces, plus extra for greasing

80 g full cream milk

170 g gluten-free flour mix

120 g caster sugar

2 ½ tsp gluten-free baking powder

2 eggs

2 tsp natural vanilla extract

Chocolate icing
Maybe a bit hard to make this lamington in a Thermomix!

400 g pure icing sugar

50 g cocoa powder (gluten free)

150 g full cream milk

1 tsp natural vanilla extract

80 g pouring (whipping) cream

2 tbsp jam of choice (see tips)

150 g desiccated coconut

How to make this taste sensation, go to:

Kiwis love Aussie Lamingtons but they are now harder to find in the land of the Long White Cloud

Classic cream-filled lamingtons
New Zealanders - who once claimed the humble Aussie lamington as their own - have expressed genuine concerns that the gastronomic gift from Australia - is proving difficult to buy across the length and breadth of the North and South Islands.

In Australia, interest has waned a little in the century old culinary tradition made famous by Lord Lamington, Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901.

But fundraisers, fetes and lamington devotees are keeping this wonderful creation alive throughout Australia. reports:  It's a sad day when the birthplace of the lamington ditches it.

Although the birthplace of the lamington may be debatable to Kiwis, in Australia it is reported to be Old Government House in Brisbane, and yesterday we heard that the café there has taken lamingtons off the menu – for the first time in 117 years.

Australians believe the lamington was first made in 1900 for the wife of Queenland's eighth governor, Lady May Lamington. There is a little debate as to who made it – it could have been a renowned French pastry chef of the day or well-known Brisbane cookery teacher Amy Schauer, who was regarded as "the Nigella Lawson" of her time.

Full report:: 

History of Australian Lamingtons and an early recipe

Interesting observations from the erudite Old Foodie:

Australian Lamingtons
The Baron’s hat and other mysteries.

Today I want to de-bunk some myths about the lamington, because persisting myths are ruining a perfectly good mystery.

What is certain that “a subscriber” had a recipe for lamingtons published in The Queenslander newspaper on this date in 1902, and that this is the earliest known published recipe for our national cake.

What is not certain is how the name originated.

Fakelore says that it was named after Baron Lamington, governor of Queensland from 1896-1901.

New Zealand's claim to have invented the Lamington totally debunked

Beat this New Zealand!
Just when you thought New Zealand might have retreated from its time-honoured claims of one-upmanship against her continental cousin across The Ditch, one outrageous assertion has been well and truly debunked.

Although New Zealand may be able to lay claim to fame for the invention of the Pavlova, its unilateral declaration of having invented the humble Aussie lamington has been left floundering - even worse than the New Zealand cricket team on its best day!

When this bizarre gastronomic claim arose, blood boiled across all Australian communities, tempers flared relentlessly and every decent Kiwi tried to put on their best Australian accent to avoid ridicule and scorn flowing from almost every corner of every true-blue pub and club across the nation.

A well-presented story in The Guardian Newspaper suggested a primitive 1888 painting overlooking Wellington Harbour showed a half-eaten lamington on a side table, suggesting proof-positive that this pre-dated all Australian claims to have invented the humble lamington

This is how the story was revealed to the world:

Lamington invented in New Zealand, new research proves 'beyond doubt'

Watercolour painting shows coconut covered cake is not really Australian and is only an imitation of the earlier 'Wellington'
The 19th century watercolour painting by JR Smyth that University
 of Auckland 
researchers say shows a 'Wellington' cake (circled).
Photograph: University of Auckland

The Lamington, Australia’s famed dessert, was actually invented in New Zealand and originally named a “Wellington”, according to new research published by the University of Auckland.

Fresh analysis of a collection of 19th-century watercolours by the New Zealand landscape artist JR Smythe, shows that in one portrait, “Summer Pantry” dated 1888, a partially eaten Lamington cake is clearly visible on the counter of a cottage overlooking Wellington Harbour.

The first known reference to a Lamington before this was a recipe published in 1902 in the Queensland Country Life newspaper. Historians had believed the Lamington was named after Lord Lamington who served as governor of Queensland between 1896-1901.

But experts at the University of Auckland have examined archives which show records of a visit Lamington undertook to Wellington in 1895, before beginning in his tenure as Queensland governor.

According to a New Zealand Herald news report of the visit, Lamington was “much taken with the local sweets provided him by local bakers A.R. Levin.”

Among those sweets, the article states, was a “Wellington – a double sponge dessert, dressed in shavings of coconut intended to imitate the snow capped mountains of New Zealand.”

Dr Arun Silva of the centre for academic knowledge, excellence and study at the University of Auckland, said the news clipping and Smythe watercolour made it “inconceivable” that the Lamington was an Australian invention.

“What we have here is conclusive evidence that the Lamington cake was in fact a product of New Zealand. The documentation of Lamington’s visit and the pictorial evidence in the watercolour prove it without a doubt.

“I wouldn’t exactly say it was a rewriting of history, more a realisation that our culinary past is much more entangled than we’d previously believed,” Silva said.

Silva, an expert in food history, said the dramatic discovery was likely to blow debate around whether it was Australia or New Zealand who invented the Pavlova “out of the sky”.

This was too much for all true-blue Australian Lamington connoisseurs who rallied across the nation to debunk what appeared to be a spirited defence of New Zealand's only claim to fame since the First Fleet arrived in Sydney Cove in 1788.

But the Kiwis' burst of attempted stardom on the world gastronomic stage proved to be very short-lived when the name of the author of this outrageous article published on April 1, Olaf Priol, was closely examined. 

"Olaf Priol" is an anagram of the words "April Fool". 

Yes, our New Zealand cousins - and the Guardian Newspaper which had nearly committed Australia to World War III - had been outed.

Australia's honour had been restored.

The Kiwis ashamedly slunk off to eat their Pavlovas in the deserted cafes and restaurants of the Shaky Isles with national humiliation pervading their every waking moment.

And this early taste for fake news made later claims of fake news by Donald Trump look like a recycled diatribe!

© Paul Tully 2017

Did Lord Lamington really dislike his own namesake?

Did Lord Lamington really dislike what he called
 "those bloody poofy woolly biscuits"?

The origin of the lamington, the "patron cake of Australia", is shrouded in mystery. 

The chocolate and coconut-coated cakes are thought to be named after Lord Lamington (aka Charles Cochrane-Baillie, pictured), governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901.

 Legend holds the lamington was invented when a clumsy maid (or Lady Lamington herself) dropped a sponge cake into melted chocolate, then served it anyway - with a sprinkling of coconut to avoid sticky fingers. 

A true Australian lamington cake
Other yarns claim lamingtons were a means to reuse stale or burned cakes, or that they were named after his lordship's apparently lamington-esque hat. (New Zealand claims it is the true inventor of the lamington- naturally.) 

The first known "lamington cakes" recipe appeared in Queensland Country Life in 1900, and the iconic treat quickly spread

Lord Lamington never cared for them, supposedly decrying "those bloody poofy woolly biscuits". (State Library of Queensland)

How to create a beautiful Australian chocolate lamington

This is a true gastronomic inspiration in the Australian tradition:

Australian chocolate lamington
The key ingredients
10 eggs
300gm caster sugar
380gm plain flour
50gm Dutch-process cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
60gm butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing
Raspberry jam, for spreading
100gm coconut flakes
100gm shredded coconut 

Chocolate panna cotta
200ml milk
200ml pouring cream
80gm caster sugar
80gm dark chocolate (56%-60% cocoa solids), finely chopped
3 titanium-strength gelatine leaves, softened in cold water for 5 minutes 

Chocolate glaze

300gm dark chocolate (56%-60% cocoa solids), finely chopped
100gm butter, diced
100gm icing sugar, sieved
2 tbsp milk

Go to for full details of how to make this sensational delight:

Lamingtons off the Aussie menu at their birthplace - 117 years after they were first made

Lady Lamington - wife of the former
Queensland Governor Lord Lamington,
after whom the  world-famous Australian
  Lamington  is named.

The birthplace of the lamington has taken the iconic Australian cake off of the menu – 117 years after it was created.

Brisbane's Old Government House removed the chocolate and coconut covered sponge from the building's restaurant, The Pantry, six weeks ago because they were not selling, according to The Brisbane Times.

The sweet is believed to have been crafted in the house's kitchen in 1900 for Lady May Lamington, the wife of Lord Charles Wallace Lamington, Queensland's eight governor.

It is unknown who exactly created the small square cakes, but it is assumed the couple's chef French patisserie chef, Armand Galland, or cookery teacher Amy Schauer, constructed the lamington.

Ms Galland became friends with Lady Lamington while she lived in the house from 1896 to 1901.

'They just weren't selling,' Sarah Barnes, manager of Old Government House's restaurant told the publication.

Very easy recipe for Australian Lamingtons

Easy Lamington Recipe:

Ingredients for the 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

Ingredients for the 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

For full details on how to create this true Aussie icon, go to:

Lamington recipe: How to make lamington bananas - new use for an old delight!

Lamington bananas - a great treat!
The lamington craze never stops and now you can have your very own lamington bananas.

The ingredients are:

- 200g milk chocolate, chopped
  • - 4 to 5 bananas (Lady Finger or Cavendish)
  • - 1½ cups desiccated coconut

This would have to be the easiest recipe ever.

Full details:

1900 recipe for the traditional Australian lamington

Claims by New Zealand, England and even the Scots that they were the home of the humble Australian lamington continue to be dented with more evidence linking Australia's culinary icon to the City of Brisbane over 100 years ago.

Queensland Country Life (Qld. : 1900 - 1954), Monday 17 December 1900, page 29

Useful Recipes.

Christmas Pudding.—1 cup each of flour, sugar, chopped suet, currants, raisins, and milk, 2 cups of breadcrumbs, 5 eggs, half-cup of candied peel, 1 grated nutmeg, half packet mixed spice, pinch of salt. Mix well the dry ingredients, beat the eggs and milk to a froth, and pour over them; mix the whole well to-gether; steam in a basin eight hours.

Christmas Cake.—1lb. butter, 12 eggs, 1 quart flour, 1lb. sugar, ½lb. mixed spice, 3lb. currants, 1lb. raisins, ½lb. almonds, ½lb. candied peel. Beat the butter to a cream,stir in yolks of 12 eggs well beaten with the sugar, add spice and almonds chopped fine, stir in flour, add currants, raisins, and peel; bake in buttered paper in tin for 2 hours or more.

Lamington Cakes. — ½ cup of butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour, 3 eggs, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 4 tablespoons milk. Beat butter and sugar; add eggs well beaten with the milk, sift in flour and baking powder; flavour with vanilla or lemon to taste. Bake in sandwich tins. Cut in squares next day.
Icing.—3oz. icing sugar, 1oz. butter. Beat these to a cream and spread between layers, as jam would be used. For the outside icing —3oz. sugar, 1oz. butter, 3 teaspoons or more of cocoa; vanilla to flavour. The square of cake, when doubled, are in the shape of a cube. Ice all over the cube with the cocoa icing, spreading it with a knife, then dip and roll in desiccated cocoanut.

A Savoury Roly Poly.—Cold roast pork is rather difficult to deal with, but the follow ing recipe will make an excellent dish:—Make a suet crust with 10oz. of flour and 3oz. of suet, roll it out to the thickness of a quarter of an inch. Mince the pork finely, a little fat may be used, but not much; season with pep per and salt, and mix with plenty of chopped sage and onion. For half a pound of meat two onions of medium size and four sage leaves might be taken. Spread this over the crust, wet the edges, roll it up, tie in a cloth, and boil quite two hours. Beef, mutton, or veal will each make a savoury roll by substi tuting parsley and herbs for the sage and onions.

Pineapple Lemonade.—1 cup of sugar, 1 cupful of pineapple, 1 cup of water, juice of two lemons. Boil the sugar and water until it spins a light thread. Put the pineapple through the mincing machine, and add to the syrup with the juice of the lemons. When ready to serve, add water and sugar, if needed, to taste. Serve ice cold.

Queensland Country Life, 17 December 1900, Page 29

Lamingtons relegated from birthplace after more than a century

The humble Australian lamington named after 
Lord Lamington, Governor of Queensland
The Brisbane Times reports: The lamington was first created in Brisbane, most likely for Lady May Lamington and has been continually available at their "home", Old Government House, for 117 years.

Historians are shocked it has been taken off the menu because people stopped buying them.

For the first time in 117 years, lamingtons are off the menu at Old Government House in Brisbane, the home of the lamington.

And historians are shocked.

The lamington cake was first made in 1900, most likely for the wife of Queensland’s eighth governor, Lady May Lamington.

The lamington was made by either the Lamingtons' well-credentialled French patisserie chef, Armand Galland, or the well-known Brisbane cookery teacher Amy Schauer, regarded as “the Nigella Lawson of her time”.

The lamington has been available ever since at Old Government House, in the grounds of Queensland University of Technology, either at the house, or at the restaurant and café.

That is, until six weeks ago.

“They just weren’t selling,” Sarah Barnes, manager of Old Government House’s restaurant, The Pantry, confirmed last week.

“We now have cakes and a range of other things in the cabinet, as opposed to just sponge.

“It could just be a millennial thing, but we took it off the menu a few months ago. Honestly, they were just not moving.”

And a 117-year link in Australian history is broken.

Old Government House curator Katie McConnel learned of “the sad story” after being contacted by Fairfax Media.

“It is very sad the café no longer sells the lamington,” Dr McConnel.

“They are in this amazing historic house, but they don’t have that connection.”

Both parties have now agreed to discuss the legend of the lamington in the new year to see if it can be returned to the plate.

Lord and Lady Lamington
Lord Charles Wallace Lamington and Lady May Lamington lived in Old Government House from April 1896 to June 1901.

Lady Lamington was the patron of the nearby Brisbane Technical College, 100 metres from the house, where cookery teacher Ms Schauer taught from 1895 to 1937. The two women became friends.

It was suggested the lamington cake – originally a “full-on” rich butter cake – was first created either in one of Ms Schauer’s cooking classes, or by chef Monsieur Galland working 100 metres away in the kitchen of Old Government House, Dr McConnel said.

It is likely Monsieur Galland created the small cakes from larger cakes to cater for up to 1500 people who might attend a ball at Old Government House hosted by Lord and Lady Lamington.

Monsieur Galland was hired by the Lamingtons in Paris as they returned to Brisbane from holidays in Scotland to ready Queensland for a royal tour in 1900.

“They bring him out as their chef du jour, their main chef to do all the big events and he had a real cake and patisserie background,” Dr McConnel said.

Dr McConnel scoffed at the popular folklore that Lord Lamington, the Scot, demanded a dropped sponge cake be dipped in chocolate and covered with dessicated coconut (to prevent the fingers get covered with the chocolate) to prevent it going to waste.

“Nobody ate with their fingers in those days,” Dr McConnel said.

“And besides, he would not have been anywhere near the kitchen; never, and there is just no way in the world stale cake would have been served."

The lamington recipe was first published was in the Queensland Country Life on December 17, 1900.

“People really liked it and asked for the recipe,” Dr McConnel said.

“I strongly support the idea that Armand Galland, the French chef here from May 1900 to May 1901, would have created the cake and it would have been named in honour of his patron, Lady Lamington."

Dr McConnel dismissed New Zealand’s claim to the lamington as an April Fools’ joke linked to Monsieur Galland travelling with the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York to New Zealand from Brisbane in 1901.

“I really think with people asking Lady Lamington for the recipe, he names it after her because, like the pavlova (Dame Anna Pavlova), and the Peach Melba (Dame Nellie Melba), it was a way of acknowledging and thanking his patron, which was generally the lady when it came to the food,” she said.

“I have a reference that Lady Lamington wrote for Monsieur Galland. She was a great fan of his.”

Armand Galland, the experienced French patissiere chef, employed by Lord
and  Lady Lamington in Brisbane and most likely creator of the lamington.
Photo: Old Government House, Brisbane.

Monsieur Galland returned from the royal tour of New Zealand in 1901 to work as a wine merchant in Melbourne Street, South Brisbane.

“His appointment to the Lamingtons was an appointment that changed his life.”

Dr McConnel has not discounted the possible influence of cooking teacher Mary Schauer on the lamington.

“But the connection is still to Lady Lamington, not Lord Lamington," she said.

"It is always to Lady May Lamington.”