Vanessa Levis

This is a popular Australian cake thought to have first been made for a tea party for Lord Lamington, who served as Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901. I’ve judged a lot of lamington competitions over the years and they seem to be getting bigger and bigger. The lamingtons I’m familiar with were always small and dainty. I was on a television show years ago with Barry Humphries and I made some lamingtons for him. When I gave them to him I curtseyed and even he couldn’t stop laughing.


Quantity Ingredient
1 quantity Basic butter cake
desiccated coconut

Thin chocolate icing

Quantity Ingredient
480g icing sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
4-6 tablespoons boiling water
1/2 teaspoon butter
a few drops vanilla essence


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 30 cm x 20 cm lamington tin and line the base with baking paper.
  2. Spread the prepared butter cake mixture evenly in the tin and bake for 30–35 minutes or until cooked. Cool on a wire rack, then cut into small oblong shapes or cubes.
  3. For the chocolate icing, sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl. Add the boiling water, butter and a vanilla then stir until smooth and shiny.
  4. Spread some of the desiccated coconut on a large plate. Dip the cake shapes in the chocolate icing (see Note) then immediately roll in the coconut. Leave on a wire rack to set.


  • Jam lamingtons

    Each piece of cake may be cut in half and sandwiched together with a little berry jam before dipping into icing and rolling in coconut. Be careful to use only a small amount of jam so that it does not run out while the cake is being coated.


  • Use two forks to hold and turn the lamingtons while they are being dipped in the icing. If the icing thickens too much to dip the cakes into, thin it with a little warm water or stand the bowl in hot water.

    Spread only a small amount of coconut on the plate at one time; when it becomes soiled with drips of chocolate icing, replace it with fresh coconut.


  • You can bake the basic butter cake for the lamingtons a day before they are required. This helps to prevent the cakes from crumbling when cutting and icing. They keep fresh for several days. You can also freeze the cake but you will need to allow it to thaw for a full 24 hours before using.
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