Australian Lamingtons are probably the most famous cake recipe to come from Down Under. Squares of moist butter cake coated in chocolate icing and rolled in desiccated coconut are every bit as good as they sound!
Before living in Australia, I’d never eaten a Lamington or even heard of one actually. But early on in my backpacking days in 2001, I soon began to notice these coconut-coated sponge cake squares that lined every pastry shop counter.
Over the next 15 years of living in Sydney, I ate my fair share of Lamingtons, as they are sold everywhere. Lamingtons are like a national treasure in Australia, and I can't wait to share my step-by-step instructions and images so that you can enjoy this iconic treat too!
❓What are Lamingtons?
Lamingtons originate from the beautiful shores of Australia, named after Lord and Lady Lamington of Queensland, at the start of the 20th Century. Whilst the New Zealanders claim it as their own, regardless of its beginnings, it's fair to say that this is one of the most popular Antipodean treats.
The classic Lamington is a square of sponge cake, coated in chocolate icing and tossed in coconut. The chocolate icing soaks into the sponge and helps stick the coconut to the surface.
The sponge is moist and buttery whilst the coating around it helps maintain the freshness of the sponge squares. Variations include the sponge squares being cut in half and filled with whipped cream and/or strawberry jam.
As I so learned when my girls hit primary school, Lamington cake is a must at every cake sale or school fundraising event. I equate it to strawberries and cream at Wimbledon in the UK. It's a must!
🌟 Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Uses basic ingredients. All ingredients for this Lamington dessert are basic pantry items or can easily be found in your local supermarket.
- Simple to make. The process may be a little messy when dipping the squares into the chocolate icing but all in all the process is actually quite simple.
- Can be customized. Essentially you can use whatever flavoured sponge you like and fill the Lamingtons with any jam, curd, or sauce.
- Loved snack by all. Without a doubt, this Australian dessert recipe is loved by young and old alike. It's simple yet tasty!
🧾 Ingredients Needed
The ingredients for Lamingtons are as basic as they come. However, I've noted a few pointers to get the most out of those ingredients.
The Butter Sponge
- Butter - Use the best quality butter that you can. It makes a difference. I prefer to use unsalted so that I can control the addition of salt later on. Ensure the butter is at room temperature before making the sponge.
- Sugar - I've specified granulated sugar as it's more widely available. Just make sure to cream it with the butter for long enough so that some of the sugar crystals dissolve. Alternatively, use caster sugar which has a finer texture.
- Eggs - Large eggs are used and ensure they are at room temperature. It makes a difference in how light and airy your sponge gets.
- Flour - Many recipes call for self-raising flour, but I know it's not widely available for many. Instead, you can use regular all-purpose flour and add 2 teaspoons of baking powder to it to make your own SR Flour.
The Chocolate Icing and Coconut
- Icing Sugar - sift the confectioners' icing sugar before adding it to the bowl.
- Cocoa powder - natural or dutch cocoa powder will work in this recipe.
- Butter - if the butter isn't melted before mixing it into the icing mixture, don't worry, the boiling water will melt it.
Caramel Lamingtons: I used to make these to sell on our coffee van, Dear Coco, and they were a massive hit. Use my caramel sponge from my Caramel Cake and bake it in a 9x13-inch pan before sandwiching it with Homemade Caramel Sauce.
Dark Chocolate Coated Lamingtons: Go a little lux by add adding 100g of melted dark chocolate into the chocolate icing mixture.
Toasted Coconut Lamingtons: The classic Lamington uses regular desiccated coconut, but toasting the coconut will add extra flavour as it turns crunchy with a delicious toasty flavour.
Lamington Cake: Turn your lamingtons into one large cake. Slice the sponge cake in half and coat the outside of both halves in chocolate icing and coconut. Then smooth a layer of jam and cream on one half and place the other sponge layer on top. The sponge cake can be baked in a round or square pan making this a great option for birthday parties and gatherings.
👩🏻🍳 How to Make
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
The butter sponge is made using the regular creaming method. As mentioned in the ingredients section above, it's imperative that you use room-temperature butter and eggs. This ensures you'll get the most rise and superior texture from your sponge.
Make the Sponge Cake
STEP 1. Prepare your pan. This recipe calls for a 23x23cm (9x9-inch) baking pan to bake the sponge in. Grease the base and sides with butter and line them with parchment paper (Image 1). Ensure it overhangs the edges to create a sling. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
STEP 2. Cream the butter and sugar together. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar for a minimum of 3 minutes. Scrape the base and side halfway through. The butter should be visibly paler (Image 2)
STEP 3. Add the eggs. Mix in the eggs one at a time. Scrape the bowl between each addition (Images 3 & 4).
STEP 4. Add in the dry ingredients and milk. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and give it a stir (Image 5).
Add half the flour mixture into the batter and mix (Image 6). Then add in the milk and mix again (Image 7). Finally, add the remaining flour and mix until a few flour streaks remain (Image 8).
STEP 5. Bake the sponge. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and level off with an offset spatula. Bake until golden and the center springs back when pressed.
Once baked, let the sponge cool completely.
STEP 6. Cut the sponge and freeze. Trim the edges off the sponge as they can make those outside squares quite dry (Image 11). Cut the sponge into 16 squares (Image 12).
Then freeze those squares- only for about 30-40 minutes. Random I know. But hear me out.
TIP: Why freeze the sponge?
Some suggest making the cake the day before and letting it dry out overnight. This is great if you are super organized. But if you need a quicker option this freezer method is the way to go!
Those sponge squares are about to be tossed in the chocolate glaze. We've just made a super light and tender sponge that'll just crumble apart into the chocolate glaze. Nightmare! The best way is to firm up the sponge just enough for it to hold its shape.
STEP 7. Make the chocolate glaze. Sift into a bowl the icing sugar and cocoa powder and add in the butter and boiling water. Whisk together until smooth and combined. It should be runny (Images 13 & 14).
Coat the Sponge Squares
STEP 8. Mis en place. What does this mean? It's a chef's term for getting all your ingredients and utensils needed ready before you start cooking. Here I refer to setting up your 'workstation' with everything you need (Image 15).
Remove the sponge squares from the freezer. Add the chocolate glaze and desiccated coconut into separate shallow bowls with two forks close by. Have a wire rack sat on a baking tray close by. Doing these simple steps will make the process of coating the sponge far easier!
STEP 9. Coat the sponge in chocolate. The easiest way to do this is to use the tines of two forks to roll the sponge in the chocolate to coat it. As the sponge is semi-frozen, it will hold its shape (Images 16 & 17).
Once coated lift the square out of the sponge and let any excess chocolate glaze drip off for a minute or so.
TIP: Loosen the chocolate glaze
The glaze will thicken as it cools. There are a couple of options to combat this.
- Set the bowl over a warm water bath whilst you work.
- Microwave the glaze for ten seconds to warm it up.
- Add in a tablespoon or two of boiling water as you need it and whisk to loosen.
STEP 10. Roll in desiccated coconut. Add the chocolate-coated sponge to the bowl of coconut and sprinkle the coconut all over (Image 18).
Now my next trick. When the chocolate is coated, use your fingers to press in more coconut on all sides. This helps to shape the sponge into neat squares plus make sure there are no chocolatey sticky bits anywhere (Images 19).
Place the lamington (yes you can now officially call it that!), onto the wire rack and repeat with all the sponge squares (Images 20 & 21).
Even though these are delicious eaten straight away, the Lamingtons do actually benefit from being left for an hour or two. The chocolate seeps into the outside edges of the sponge making them even tastier!!
🥣 How To Serve
The classic Lamington is served plain like this. But some prefer the addition of cream and/or jam in the middle. (I must say- I'm a bit partial to this too!) Bet you are wondering how to add cream or jam to the square. Check out below for my tips.
TIP: How to add jam and cream to a Lamington
If adding only jam:
- Back in STEP 6, once the edges of the sponge have been trimmed, slice the sponge in half horizontally. Layer the jam in-between the two halves essentially creating a jam sandwich with the sponge. Then cut into squares and freeze.
- Continue on with the method of coating in chocolate and rolling in coconut.
If adding jam and cream:
The jam and cream become very slippy and make it really tricky to fully coat in chocolate.
- Make the lamington squares as instructed. Once coated in chocolate and coconut slice each square in half. Dollop jam onto the bottom half and pipe or spoon whipped cream onto it.
- Top with a sponge 'lid' and refrigerate the squares for the cream to set in place and prevent the top sponge from sliding off!
💭 Recipe Pro Tips
- Freeze the sponge. Freezing the sponge makes it way easier to coat the sponge in chocolate icing without it crumbling apart.
- Don't make the sauce ahead of time. As the sauce cools, it thickens and makes coating the sponge difficult. Wait until you have cut the sponge, frozen it, and got everything ready before making the icing.
- Let the excess icing drip off. A lot of icing sits on the sponge when first coating it, takes a couple of seconds for the excess to drip off.
- Press in the coconut. Once you've rolled the chocolate-coated lamingtons in desiccated coconut, sprinkle more on each side and use your fingers to press it in. It ensures firm coverage.
- Let the lamingtons sit for a couple of hours once made. This rest time really benefits them as it allows the icing to absorb into the sponge. The same happens with the jam if you decide to sandwich them with jam.
📋 Recipe FAQs
Yes absolutely. So much so that 21st July is a dedicated National Lamington Day!
Both a sponge cake and butter cake can be used to make Lamingtons. As long as the sponge is light and fluffy then use your preferred sponge. Other types of cake that you could use are Madeira cake, Pound cake, or a Genoise sponge cake.
Yes! Lamingtons actually benefit from being made ahead of time as the icing moistens the outside of the sponge.
❄️ Storage and Freezer Instructions
To store: Plain or jam-filled Lamingtons can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Cream-filled Lamingtons will have to be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
To freeze: Plain or jam-filled Laminingtons can be frozen in a freezer-safe container for 2-3 months. Thaw overnight at room temperature.
😋 More Snack Recipes
If you tried this Lamington Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you go in the comments below. I love hearing from you!
Classic Australian Lamingtons
- Baking Pan- 23cm/9-inch square
- 230 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 250 g granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 250 g plain flour (all-purpose), sifted
- 3 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- 120 ml whole milk, room temperature
- 300 g powdered icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar)
- 35 g cocoa powder
- 180 ml boiling water
- 60 g unsalted butter, melted
- 170 g desiccated coconut
Make the Sponge Cake
- Preparation. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Grease with butter the base and sides of a 23cm (9-inch) square baking pan. Line with parchment paper.
- Cream the butter and sugar together. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium for 3 minutes until pale and creamy.
- Add the eggs. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition until combined. If they start to curdle, add a tablespoon or two of flour and the mixture will come back together again. Scrap down the base and sides of the bowl.
- Add in the dry ingredients and milk. In a separate bowl, sift in the flour, baking powder and add in the salt. Whisk to combine. Add into the batter, half the flour mixture. Beat until combined. Add the milk and beat until combined, scraping the base and sides of the bowl. Add the remaining flour and mix until a few flour streaks remain.
- Bake the sponge. Spoon the batter into the prepared baking pan and place in the oven. Bake for 40-45 mins until a skewer comes out clean. The cake should spring back when lightly touched in the centre. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for ten minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Cut the sponge and freeze. Once the cake is cool, use a serrated bread knife to trim the outside edges off the cake then cut the sponge into 16 squares. Freeze for 30 to 40 minutes - until the sponge is very cold but not frozen through.
- Make the chocolate glaze. To make the icing, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and stir until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth.
- Mis en place. Remove the sponge squares from the freezer. Add the chocolate glaze and desiccated coconut into separate shallow bowls with two forks close by. Have a wire rack sat on a baking tray close by.
- Coat the sponge in chocolate. Using two forks to hold a square, dip the cake into the chocolate icing to coat all sides, lift it out of the icing and allow the excess to drip off.
- Roll in desiccated coconut. Place the coated sponge into the bowl of desiccated coconut and sprinkle the coconut all over. Roll again pressing the coconut into the icing with your fingers. Place the lamington on a wire rack and repeat the process with the remaining sponge squares.It's best to leave the Lamingtons on the rack to set for an hour or so.Note: The chocolate icing will thicken gradually, set it over a bowl of boiling water and add a tablespoon of two of boiling water into the icing to loosen it again, if you need to.
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.
This post was originally published in August 2019 but has been updated with new photos, new content and a revised recipe.