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NZ Lamington.jpg
A cream-filled lamington
TypeSponge cake
Place of originAustralia
Region or stateQueensland
Main ingredientsCake, Chocolate sauce, Desiccated coconut

A lamington is an Australian cake, made from squares of butter cake or sponge cake coated in an outer layer of chocolate sauce and rolled in desiccated coconut. The thin mixture is absorbed into the outside of the sponge cake and left to set, giving the cake a distinctive texture. A common variation has a layer of cream or strawberry jam between two lamington halves.[1][2]


Maurice French, an emeritus professor of history at the University of Southern Queensland, who has examined the question in depth,[3] believes that it is certain that lamingtons were named after either Lord Lamington, who served as Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901, or his wife, Lady Lamington.[4][5] Most sources incline to the former option.[6][7][8] The earliest known reference to the naming of the lamington, from June 1927, links the cake to Lord Lamington.[9]

The identity of the recipe's inventor has also been debated. Most stories attribute its creation to Lord Lamington's chef, the French-born Armand Galland, who was called upon at short notice to feed unexpected guests. Using only the limited ingredients available, Galland cut up some left-over French vanilla sponge cake baked the day before, dipped the slices in chocolate and set them in coconut. Impressed by Galland's creation, Lamington's guests were said to have later asked for the recipe. This version of events is supported by Lady Lamington's memoirs.[10] Coconut was not widely used in European cooking at that time, but was known to Galland whose wife was from Tahiti where coconut was a common ingredient. Another possible inventor is Amy Schauer, cooking instructor at Brisbane's Central Technical College from 1897 to 1938.

A plate of lamingtons with fruit

One account suggests that the lamington was first served in Toowoomba, when Lord Lamington took his entourage to Harlaxton House to escape the steamy heat of Brisbane,[11] whereas another claims that it was created by Galland at Queensland's Government House in Brisbane during the busy period leading up to Federation in 1901. A further alternative claim is that Lord Lamington's cook, presumably Galland, accidentally dropped a block of sponge cake into a dish of chocolate. It was later discovered that desiccated coconut, sprinkled over the top, made the cakes more appealing.[12]

The first known mention of "Lamington cake" appears in an 1896 newspaper account of a "Lamington Function" at Laidley in Queensland. The event was in honour of Lord Lamington (although it appears he did not attend) and also featured "Lamington Tea", "Lamington Soup" etc, so, in the absence of any description of the cake, the name of the cake might signify nothing more than the name of the event.[13] A 1900 recipe for Lamington Cakes has been found in the Queensland Country Life newspaper.[14] While the recipe originated in Queensland, it spread quickly, appearing in a Sydney newspaper in 1901[15] and a New Zealand newspaper in 1902.[16] However, none of these recipes indicate the creator of the recipe nor the reason for its name.

Due to an April Fools' Day prank in The Guardian on 1 April 2014 written by Olaf Priol (an anagram of April Fool), some people believe that the lamington was a New Zealand sweet known as a Wellington which existed before the Australian lamington.[17]

Modern day[edit]

A passionfruit lamington in front of a traditional chocolate lamington

Lamingtons remain a popular treat across Australia and New Zealand, and 21 July, was designated as National Lamington Day in Australia.[18][2] Lamingtons are often sold at fundraisers for schools or charity groups, known as "lamington drives".[19] Some Australians shorten the name to "Lammo" (singular) or "Lammos" (plural).[20]


A similar but smaller-sized confection is known in South Africa as ystervarkies (porcupines), while in the U.S. city of Cleveland, they are called coconut bars.[4] Another similar dessert known as čupavci or coconut cubes is also eaten in Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary and Romania.

In New Zealand, a raspberry variant is popular.[21]


In 2009, as part of the Q150 celebrations, the lamington was announced as one of the Q150 Icons of Queensland for its role as an iconic "innovation and invention".[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Michael Symons (1984). One Continuous Picnic: A History of Eating in Australia. Penguin Books Australia. ISBN 978-0-14-007167-2. Archived from the original on 14 March 2017.
  2. ^ a b Wong, Jennifer (24 January 2019). "Everything you need to know about lamingtons, the most Australian cake". ABC Life. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  3. ^ Maurice French (2013). The Lamington Enigma: A Survey of the Evidence. Tabletop Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9874322-0-9. Archived from the original on 15 March 2017.
  4. ^ a b Veenhuyzen, Max (15 May 2014). "Lamingtons – provenance unproven but tastiness unquestioned". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on 28 April 2016. Retrieved 21 April 2016.
  5. ^ Martell, Ally (25 July 2013). "A slice of the action - the lamington demands recognition". The Australian. Archived from the original on 16 October 2016. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  6. ^ Darra Goldstein; Sidney Mintz; Michael Krondl; Laura Mason (2015). The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets. Oxford University Press. pp. 34–. ISBN 978-0-19-931339-6. Archived from the original on 15 March 2017.
  7. ^ Alan Davidson (21 August 2014). The Oxford Companion to Food. OUP Oxford. pp. 456–. ISBN 978-0-19-104072-6. Archived from the original on 14 March 2017.
  8. ^ Barbara Santich (2012). Bold Palates: Australia's Gastronomic Heritage. Wakefield Press. pp. 203–. ISBN 978-1-74305-094-1. Archived from the original on 14 March 2017.
  9. ^ "Some Special Recipes". The Sydney Mail. NSW: National Library of Australia. 29 June 1927. p. 37. Archived from the original on 1 February 2015. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  10. ^ Cosima Marriner, 'Galland attempt to please a Lady takes the Cake' The Saturday Age (6 June 2009): 9.
  11. ^ "A brief history of lamingtons - Fast Ed". 6 July 2011. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013.
  12. ^ "Lamington—The Oz 'National Dish'". Ozwords. Australian National Dictionary Centre. May 1999. Archived from the original on 7 June 2008. Retrieved 11 October 2006.
  13. ^ "Notes on the "Lamington Function."". Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser. Qld.: National Library of Australia. 28 July 1896. p. 3. Archived from the original on 19 January 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  14. ^ "Useful Recipes". Queensland Country Life. Qld.: National Library of Australia. 17 December 1900. p. 29. Archived from the original on 19 April 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  15. ^ "THE LADIES' PAGE". Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser. NSW: National Library of Australia. 12 October 1901. p. 938. Archived from the original on 19 January 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  16. ^ "THE WOMAN'S WORLD". The New Zealand Herald. 27 August 1902. p. 3. Archived from the original on 1 February 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  17. ^ Priol, Olaf (1 April 2014). "Lamington invented in New Zealand, new research proves 'beyond doubt'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  18. ^ "Australians celebrate National Lamington Day". ABC Radio Australia. 20 July 2012. Archived from the original on 16 September 2016. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  19. ^ Joan Hughes (1989). Australian words and their origins. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-553087-2. Archived from the original on 14 March 2017.
  20. ^ Annabel Smith (2014). The Australia Day lamington challenge. Archived from the original on 27 April 2017.
  21. ^ "Raspberry Lamingtons". Chelsea Sugar. Archived from the original on 4 November 2018. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  22. ^ Bligh, Anna (10 June 2009). "PREMIER UNVEILS QUEENSLAND'S 150 ICONS". Queensland Government. Archived from the original on 24 May 2017. Retrieved 24 May 2017.

Further reading[edit]

  • French, Maurice (2013), The Lamington enigma : a survey of the evidence, Toowoomba Tabletop Publishing, ISBN 978-0-9874322-0-9