The Perfect Lamington

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During my travels here in Australia, I have become quite partial to the Lamington. Typically enjoyed with a coffee, it seems to be something of a national treasure, and is on sale in bakeries and cafes everywhere we go.

Essentially it is a square-shaped sponge cake, coated in chocolate icing with a generous sprinkling of desiccated coconut. A simple, and unbeatable combination!

The story goes that it was invented in Queensland, Australia in around 1900 by the chef to the State Governor, Lord Lamington. I understand that New Zealanders have also laid claim to it’s creation, but the Aussies seem to be having none of that!

There are some variations. The ones in my main photo introduce another ingredient – a layer of raspberry jam in the middle – which works really well. There is even a bakery in Sydney that has developed glamingtons, with flavours including strawberry, salted caramel and peanut butter. The original choc and coconut combo remains the most popular, however.

Australia Day (the national holiday) is coming up on 26 January, and one of the ways that people will be celebrating is by baking and eating Lamingtons. These ones, adorned with national flags, I spotted in a bakery today in Brighton, a resort just down the coast from Melbourne.

Here is another variation for Australia Day – a Lamington style Victoria sponge filled with fresh cream.

Can’t be bad!

Fancy joining in?


This will make around 16 cakes.


20 mins to prep, 20 mins in the oven. Once cooled, 10 mins to coat in the icing.

You Will Need:

  • metal baking tray, 24cm square (or equivalent)
  • 125g sugar
  • 50g butter, softened, plus 1 tbsp for the icing
  • 2 eggs
  • 120g self-raising flour
  • 85g desiccated coconut
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp boiling water
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • some smooth raspberry jam (optional)


  1. Heat the oven to 180C.
  2. Grease and line the metal baking tray with baking paper.
  3. Cream the sugar and softened butter together in a mixer. Whisk in the eggs and combine, then add in the self-raising flour.
  4. Pour the batter into the baking tray and spread out evenly with a knife or spatula. Bake for 20 mins.
  5. Cool on a baking tray, then cut into squares.
  6. If you wish to add a layer of jam, do so at this stage – slice each square and spread it in, making a jam sandwich.
  7. For the chocolate coating, mix the cocoa, icing sugar, boiling water and tbsp butter. Give it a good stir so it forms a nice, thick sauce.
  8. Put the desiccated coconut in a separate bowl, alongside.
  9. One at a time, place each sponge square on a fork and dunk it in the choc sauce. Use a spoon to coat the top and sides, then set it in the coconut, gently turning it over so that all sides are coated.
  10. Leave on a wire rack and allow 10 – 15 mins to set, before serving.

Customise it!

As indicated above, bakers across Australia have come up with a number of very creative variations. If, like me, this is the first time you’ve made Lamingtons, I would stick to the basic recipe. With all the dunking in choc sauce and coconut, this has the potential to become quite messy. My advice is to learn to walk before you run!

I mentioned earlier that we had visited Brighton today. For my final photo, I will share with you this shot from Brighton Beach, looking back towards the Melbourne city skyline. I liked the contrast between the small town seaside resort, with a line of little coloured beach huts on the right, and the mighty CBD behind. It was another hot one today, reaching 30C, and we joined the many people cooling off in the sea.

Time to add another Australian band to the ADK Playlist. I discovered The Presets, an electronic duo from Sydney, on a visit to Melbourne’s Australian Centre for the Moving Image. This track is called My People.

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