Lamingtons are one of Australia’s most famous dishes, after Pavlova, and are served at bakeries and cafes across the country. They as often baked for school and church fetes and are enjoyed at all sorts of outings.

There is some debate about how the cakes was created.

According to one legend, Lamingtons were a haphazard discovery when some early settlers wanted to dress up stale cake in order to make it more palatable.

That story was debunked, however, by author Maurice French. In his book, The Lamington Enigma: A survey of the evidence, French argues that the cakes were created and named for a Queensland Governor Lord Lamington, who served from 1896 to 1901. And no one would think to serve stale cake to a governor!

One of the largest problems in assembling Lamingtons is how to cover the cake without having it crumble in the icing. One option is to let the cake sit for about a day to harden up. But my preferred method is to freeze the cake. Once frozen, the sponge can be coated in the icing and coconut with ease.

This recipe calls for self raising flour, which is common in Australia and Britain. If you live somewhere that this is not freely available you can adapt plain flour by adding 1-1/2 teaspoons of baking powder to each cup. This will give the flour the same raising effect.

I am using a classic sponge cake as the base that will fit in a 9 inch by 9 inch pan, or 23 cms by 23 cms. If you have a larger, rectangular shaped pan that is popular for Lamingtons you can increase the proportions to fit.

For the coating, make sure not to confuse desiccated coconut with a sweetened product that is often available in the U.S. and other countries.

Caster sugar can be hard to find in the U.S. You can make your own caster sugar by thinning granulated sugar in a food processor or blender. In this case be careful to stop before it turns into powder.

clock clock icon cutlery cutlery icon flag flag icon folder folder icon instagram instagram icon pinterest pinterest icon print print icon squares squares icon




250 grams, or 8.8 ounces, butter at room temperature

250 grams, or 8.8 ounces, self raising flour

250 grams, or 8.8 ounces, caster sugar

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

For the icing 

3 cups of icing sugar

1/4 cup of cocoa powder

1/2 cup of milk

2 cups desiccated coconut


1. Preheat the oven to 190C, or 375 F. Butter a 9 inch by 9 inch pan, or cover it with parchment paper to prevent sticking.

2. In a medium sized bowl, combine the butter and sugar and beat it together until it is a light yellow colour and has a fluffy texture.

3. Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture one by one and then add the vanilla essence. Ensure that they are all mixed through.

4. Fold in the flour and mix thoroughly.

5. Pour the mixture into the tin, place it into the oven and cook for about 40 minutes until firm. 

6. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Then cut the cake into pieces and place in the freezer for at least 4 hours, or until the cake is hardened.

7. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl, add the milk and mix thoroughly. If the mixture is too runny add more icing sugar, or if too hard add more milk. Place the desiccated coconut into a separate bowl next to the icing.

8. Taking one piece of cake at a time, roll the cake in the chocolate icing until it is completely covered. Remove the cake with a fork or spoon and place it into the bowl with the desiccated coconut. Roll the cake around until it is covered with the coconut, then remove and place on a wire rack to set. Repeat this process with each piece of cake. 

9. Wait until the cake is thawed and then enjoy! The cakes may be eaten alone, or with jam and cream.