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These choc coconut sponge squares take the cake as an all-time great Aussie treat.

By Adelaide Lucas
  • Serves 32
  • 25 mins preparation
  • 35 mins cooking plus coating and standing

Stories abound about the origin of the lamington, and most are in some way related to the second Baron Lamington, Queensland’s Governor at the turn of the 20th century. Some say the cake was so named for its resemblance to the homburg hat that the baron liked to wear. (Last time we checked, a homburg is much like a fedora and shares little resemblance to a chocolate snowball.) Other accounts have it that Lady Lamington had nothing but stale sponge to offer visiting parliamentarians. Necessity being the mother of invention, she had the cook dip the lacklustre leftovers in chocolate icing, toss them in desiccated coconut and pass them off as high tea.

The earliest known published recipe for the lamington appeared in 1902 in the cookery section of The Queenslander newspaper credited to ‘a subscriber’. The lamington’s subsequent popularity, particularly at fundraising drives and school fetes and, of course, its darn good eating, earned it a spot on the National Trust of Queensland’s 2006 list of Heritage Icons. But its fame extends beyond that state’s borders – every 21 July Australians celebrate National Lamington Day, and even New Zealanders lay claim to its invention.

For dinky-di purists, nothing but day-old sponge will do – hold the jam and cream – preferably baked by a Country Women’s Association nanna with tuck-shop arms.

These choc coconut-covered sponge squares take the cake as one of the all-time great Aussie classics.


  • 8 eggs
  • 250 gm caster sugar
  • 250 gm plain flour
  • 30 gm unsalted butter, melted
  • 400 gm shredded coconut
Chocolate ganache coating
  • 600 gm dark chocolate (65% cocoa solids), coarsely chopped
  • 300 ml pouring cream


  • 1
    Preheat oven to 190C. Whisk eggs and sugar in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water for 5-10 minutes or until warm (about 40C), pale and frothy. Transfer to an electric mixer and whisk on high speed for 10 minutes or until mixture has tripled in volume. Sift over plain flour in batches and, using a metal spoon, fold gently to combine between additions. Just before adding the last of the flour, fold through melted butter. Divide batter between 2 lightly greased and base-lined 20cm square cake pans. Bake in centre of oven for 20 minutes or until a skewer withdraws clean. Stand in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, then turn out onto racks and cool completely.
  • 2
    For chocolate ganache coating, combine chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. When chocolate begins to melt, stir gently until combined and smooth and set aside in a warm place.
  • 3
    Scatter shredded coconut over a tray. Cut each sponge into sixteen 5cm squares. Using 2 forks, dip each square into the chocolate and shake to remove excess. (If chocolate starts to thicken, place bowl over gently simmering water to thin.) Roll each square in coconut, shake off excess and place on a wire rack (sitting over a tray). Stand for at least 1 hour or until chocolate sets. Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to 3 days.


Where to try them
The Book Kitchen A one-bite miniature served alongside coconut sorbet, strawberry and rhubarb jelly, and a hot cup of chocolate sauce. 255 Devonshire St, Surry Hills, NSW, (02) 9310 1003.
Beechworth Bakery Try the grand ‘Dame Edna’ – a pale pink raspberry-coated version - or just go for the classic slice, with or without cream. 27 Camp St, Beechworth, Vic, (03) 5728 1132,
Pearl The lamington fingers served with homemade strawberry jam at Pearl are chef Geoff Lindsay’s mum’s recipe. 631-633 Church St, Richmond, Vic, (03) 9421 4599.

  • Author: Adelaide Lucas