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.

Lamington Recipes

Lamington: First published recipe in Australia of how to make this Australian culinary icon - 17 December 1900

This is believed to be the first published recipe of the world-famous Australian lamington, named after the Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901, Lord Lamington.

It pinpoints the creation of the lamington between 1896 and 1900.

The chocolate icing and dessicated coconut were still to come.

Queensland Country Life 

Monday 17 December 1900

Page 29

Queensland Country Life
Monday, 17 December 1900

Lamington Cakes.---1/2 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.

Lamington recipes for cupcakes, rolls, the traditional Aussie lamington, jelly lamingtons and pink lamingtons

Easy Australian lamington recipe - Bake at home today

Classic Australian lamingtons: 
Sponge cake dipped in chocolate
and coated in shredded coconut.

Serves: 16


4 eggs
125g caster sugar
125g plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
50g unsalted butter, melted
200g shredded coconut
Chocolate icing
25g unsalted butter
160ml (2/3 cup) milk
500g icing sugar
50g (1/2 cup) Dutch cocoa powder


Preheat the oven to 190C. Grease and line the base and sides of a 20cm square cake pan with baking paper. Fill a sink one-third full with water. Place eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. 

Place bowl in sink and whisk for 2 minutes or until mixture is runny and slightly foamy. Remove from sink. Using an electric mixer, whisk on high speed for 4 minutes or until mixture is pale and triples in volume.

Using a sieve, sift just enough flour to cover the top of the egg mixture. Using a large metal spoon, fold in flour in one light motion. Repeat sifting and folding with remaining flour until just combined.

Combine vanilla and butter in a bowl, then add a large spoonful of batter and stir to combine. Gently fold the butter mixture into batter until just combined, then spoon into the prepared pan.

On a work surface, spin the pan to level, then bake for 25 minutes or until centre springs bake when pressed with your fingertip. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Freeze for 20 minutes; this will make the sponge easier to cut.

To make icing, stir butter and milk in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water until butter is melted. Sift over sugar and cocoa, then stir until smooth. Turn off heat.

My note - I didn't use the double-boiler method as described here to make the icing, I just put the ingredients in a saucepan and had the burner set very, very low.

Using a large serrated knife, trim sides of sponge, then cut into 16 cubes. Scatter coconut over a tray. Insert a skewer into the crust side of a piece of sponge (don't go all the way through). Holding the skewer over icing, and, holding a spoon in the other hand, spoon icing over the sponge, rotating the skewer to coat evenly. Shake off excess, then slide sponge off the skewer onto the tray of coconut. Scatter coconut over the top and sides of sponge, then transfer to a tray lined with baking paper. Repeat with remaining sponge cubes, icing and coconut. If the icing starts to thicken, stir in a little water to thin.


My note - using a skewer was useless! I ended up just dropping the sponge cube into the icing, spooning icing over it, then using a fork to lift it out and sit it on the coconut.

Lamingtons come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colours.

Your health: How to make sugar-free lamingtons

Sugar-free lamingtons - a healthy alternative.


125 g butter, softened.
1/2 cup rice malt syrup.
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder.
3 eggs.
1 3/4 cup self-raising flour.
1/2 cup milk.
2 cups shredded coconut.


2 tablespoons rice malt syrup.
1/4 cup raw cacao powder.
1 tablespoon butter.
1/2 cup boiling water.


1. Preheat oven to 180ºC / 350ºF / Gas Mark 4. Grease a 3cm deep, 20cm x 30cm lamington pan. Line with baking paper, leaving a 2cm overhang on all sides. 

2. Using an electric mixer beat butter, rice malt syrup and vanilla powder until light and fluffy. 

3. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition (if mixture curdles keep going it will still work fine).

4. Sift half of the flour over the butter mixture. Stir to combine. Add half the milk. Stir to combine. Repeat with remaining flour and milk. Spoon mixture into prepared pan and smooth surface. Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Stand in pan for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack. Allow to cool completely. 

5. Meanwhile to make icing combine syrup, cacao, butter and boiling water in a bowl. Stir until smooth. 

6. Cut cooled cake into 15 pieces. Place coconut in a dish. Dip one piece of cake in icing. Shake off excess. Toss in coconut. Place on wire rack over a baking tray. Repeat with remaining pieces of cake, icing and coconut. Stand for at least 1 hour or until set.

Gluten-free option: Replace flour with a gluten-free self raising flour.

Paleo option: Replace flour with 1 cup almond meal and 3/4 cup coconut flour. Add an extra egg and 2 teaspoons of baking powder. You could also replace butter with coconut oil and milk with almond milk if you don't eat dairy. This may take a bit of experimenting we haven't tested a Paleo version.

We advise eating sweet foods like this one as occasional treats only. Also, we encourage you to cut the sweetener down even more if you can. Read more on our stance here.

See more at:

Lamingtons have been famous in Australia for over 100 years.

Early lamington recipe for Australia's most-famous culinary icon

The Australian lamington
The now-defunct Sydney Mail may have published for the first time the full recipe for the humble Australian lamington.

On Saturday 12 October 1901, the newspaper printed the following article in answer to readers' enquiries:


Answers to Correspondents.


Housewife will answer all questions in this column relating to the House, Cookery, Fashions, &c. Rules :— 1. All patterns and plans must bear owner's name and pseudonym, and must be sewn in the letter accompanying them. 2. All letters to have a list of questions, which must be concisely and clearly written at the end, the writer's pseudonym plainly written at the top.

To make a most delicious cake suitable for afternoon tea I can recommend the following recipe. Lamington cake: Take one cup butter, three cups flour, two cups sugar, five eggs, leaving out the whites of two for icing, one small cup milk, one small teaspoonful carbonate of soda, two small teaspoonsful cream of tartar dissolved in the milk.

Rub the butter and sugar together; add the eggs and milk with the flour in which the soda has been mixed. Bake for 20 minutes in long flat tins, and when cold cut into small blocks and ice all ever with an icing made as follows: 1/4lb. butter, 1lb. icing sugar, beaten well together.

Add the whipped whites of the two eggs, with three large tablespoonsful grated chocolate (or cocoa of a dark colour) essence of vanilla to taste. Cover the blocks all over, and immediately roll them in desiccated cocoanut.

This cake is delicious, and well worth trying.


The Sydney Mail 12 October 1901

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