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 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.”

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