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.

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

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