There is no cake more Australian than Lamingtons! A moist butter sponge dipped in chocolate then coated with coconut, this is The Cake sold at every suburban bakery and weekend fundraisers.
You’ll get coconut everywhere making them and eating them. But that’s all part of the Aussie experience. It’s how we do it Down Under! 🇦🇺
Lamingtons – an Australian classic!
A soft buttery sponge cake coated all over with chocolate icing and coconut.
Even if you’ve never heard of these before, you just know it’s going to be good. We Aussies know great tucker – and this is as Aussie as it gets!! (OK, OK, maybe as Aussie as Pavs, Anzac Biscuits, Sausage Rolls, Party Pies, weekend sausage sizzles and Sunday Roast Lamb😇)
How to make Lamingtons
On the face of it, it sounds simple enough:
make a buttery vanilla sponge cake
cut into squares, dip into chocolate icing, coat with coconut
The one little extra step I add that is going to make your Lamington making life a total breeze is to mostly freeze the cake before rolling in icing. A firm, semi frozen piece of cake is much easier to handle when coating in icing and rolling in coconut. Try doing it with fresh sponge, and you’ll be battling crumbling cake as you try to coat it. Been there, done that, multiple times!
The cake will thaw as the icing sets and the cake is as fresh as it was straight out of the oven.
Here’s a bit more background to explain why I freeze the cake before coating – to make sure I fully convince you so you don’t skip that step!
Why I Freeze The Cake before coating
Lamingtons are one of those cakes that recipes say are easy to make, but most are just downright lying to you. The first few times I made them involved screeches of frustration and serious foot stomping.😤 I emerged on the other side looking like I’d been in a mud-wrestle with a plate of something that barely resembled the neat squares you see in this post.
The challenge is this: The sponge has to be tender and moist enough to eat plain, but trying to roll such a delicate cake in icing is a disaster. The cake crumbles into the icing, making it thicker and impossible to work with.
And once the crumbling begins, imagine the mess when you try to roll it in coconut.
The solution offered by traditional recipes is to leave the cake out overnight, essentially letting the outside become a bit stale so it’s easier to handle. This works pretty well – but the cake is a bit drier than ideal.
The 21st century solution:
FREEZE THE CAKE.
It’s even easier to handle for coating, and the bonus is that the cake stays fresh and moist – no need to leave it out to dry out!
This will change your Lamington Life forever.
Butter Sponge Cake for Lamingtons
The sponge cake for Lamingtons is a terrific recipe that I use as a base for other recipes (strangely, none that I’ve shared here – yet). Simply made with pantry staples, it’s soft and buttery, and not too sweet which is what we want because we get extra sweetness from the chocolate icing.
The big debate:
Do Lamingtons have jam and cream?
Classic Lamingtons made the traditional old-school way do not have jam or cream sandwiched in the middle. But you’ll come across many Aussies who won’t have Lamingtons any other way (some RecipeTin family members included).
My view – Lamingtons should stand as a great cake without any filling. Jam and cream is optional – it should make it over the top good!
If you’re a Lamington fan, I think you’ll approve of this recipe! The butter cake is moist, tender and buttery. The chocolate coating is thick enough so you get a great hit of chocolate, but thin enough so it soaks into the sponge, a sticky enough to glue on plenty of coconut.
The added bonus is that using the little trick to freeze the cakes before coating, they are neat and tidy so they look as great as they taste! – Nagi x
PS It will be messy making these. And that’s totally ok. Because it’s part of the great Aussie tradition that you get coconut “everywhere” when you’re making them and eating them!
PPS When better to make Lamingtons than for Australia Day??
Watch how to make it
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- 125 g / 4.5 oz unsalted butter , softened
- 1 cup (220g) caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 eggs , room temperature
- 1 3/4 cups (260g) flour , plain/all purpose, sifted (Note 1)
- 3.5 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) milk (low or full fat)
- 4 cups (480g) icing sugar (confectionary sugar), sifted
- 1/3 cup (22g) cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp (15g) unsalted butter
- 150ml (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) boiling water
- 3 - 4 cups desiccated coconut
Optional: Jam and Cream
- Strawberry jam
- 1 cup (250 ml) cream
- 1 tbsp white sugar
- Preheat oven to 180C/350F (or fan forced 160C/320F).
- Sift flour and baking powder together.
- Grease a 20 cm x 30 cm / 8" x 12" cake pan. Line with baking paper (parchment paper), leaving an overhang on all sides (to make it easy to remove).
- Beat butter, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium high speed until light and fluffy - about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.
- Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition so the batter is smooth, not curdled.
- Add half the flour and gently fold to combine, then stir in half the milk. Repeat with remaining flour and milk.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Stand for 5 minutes then use the overhang baking paper to lift the cake out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
Prepare Cake to Coat
- Cut cake into 15 squares (5 x 3), or 18 rectangles. Freeze for 1 to 1.5 hours. (Note 2)
- Combine the Icing ingredients in a heat proof bowl and mix until smooth. Should be a syrup consistency, but not watery. (Note 2)
- Place coconut in a shallow bowl or pan with a largish surface area (Note 3).
- Place a piece of cake in the icing and roll to coat using 2 forks. Transfer it into the coconut and quickly roll to coat all over in coconut. Transfer to tray.
- Repeat with remaining sponges.
- Stand for 1 to 2 hours, or until set. Then serve with tea and coffee!
Optional: Jam and Cream
- Beat cream and sugar until firm peaks form.
- Cut coated Lamington in half horizontally. Spread with jam then pipe or dollop on cream. Top with lid, keep refrigerated.
No cream: Store in airtight container for 3 to 4 days, or freeze for 2 - 3 months then thaw before serving.
Cream: Store in refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. 5. Nutrition per serving. Barely adapted from this recipe from taste.com.au. Ingredients the same, the main thing I changed is the process (especially the coating process, to make it easier!)
Originally published 2014. Post refreshed with better photos, recipe video and process steps added. No change to recipe!
More Aussie Tucker favourites
Pavlova – Meringue cake with marshmallow centre topped with cream and berries
Sausage Rolls – Juicy pork filling encased in puff pastry. We think ours rivals Bourke St Bakery!
Party Pies – Mini pies filled with slow cooked beef
Scones – One of the best things the English brought to our shores!
Caramel Slice – chocolate, caramel and shortbread. Home run!
Sunday Roast Lamb with Gravy – also try this amazing Slow Roasted Leg of Lamb!
Big bucket of fresh cooked prawns with dipping sauces – a summer favourite!
Browse the Australia Day recipes collection!
Life of Dozer
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