Africhef for great South African Recipes and South African Cooking

aka Johnson's Specials

Lamingtons or Johnson's Specials are favourites in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Lamingtons Recipe aka Johnson's Specials in South Africa
Lamingtons a delicious treat
aka Johnson's Specials in
South Africa

These little squares of vanilla cake which are dipped in a chocolate sauce and then covered in desiccated coconut make surprisingly delicious treats.

In South Africa you will often find them for sale at the bakery sections of supermarkets and home industry shops.

The origins of Lamingtons are somewhat disputed, after much research I have to conclude that Australia's claim to fame as the originators of Lamingtons is probably valid.


According to the Aussies they were named after Baron Lamington who was the Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901

Some claim that they were in fact named after Lady Lamington who was apparently far more popular than the Baron.

Apart from generally agreeing that the Lamingtons were named after one or the other of the governing couple there exists some dispute as to how the discovery actually came about.

Some stories refer to it being invented by Amy Shauer a cookery teacher who named it after Lady Lamington who was the patroness of the cookery school.

Other anecdotes refer to the Lamington as having been invented by Armand Gallard who was the Lamingtons chef at Queensland's Government house

Lord Lamington was reputed to have detested the cakes carrying his name, referring to them as 'Those bloody poofy wooly biscuits'

One possibility for the Lamingtons' popularity in both Australia and South Africa is that sponge cake keeps far longer, in drier climates, when dipped into the chocolate sauce.

I can find absolutely no reference as to why Lamingtons are sometimes called Johnson's Specials in South Africa

Lamington Ingredients

For the cake

4 large eggs
2 cups [500ml] castor sugar
1 cup [250ml] sunflower oil
2 tsp [10ml] vanilla essence
2½ cup [ 625 ml] cake flour
3 tsp [15ml] baking powder
1 cup [250ml] milk

For the coating

2 cups [500ml] icing sugar
5 oz [140gm] softened butter
6 tbsp [60ml] boiling water
4 tbsp [60ml] cocoa powder
½ tsp [2.5ml] almond essence [optional]
¾ cup [200ml] desiccated coconut

To make the Lamingtons

Pre-heat the oven to 350o F. 180oC

Grease and line a deep 16X12 in [40X30cm] baking tin

Sift the castor sugar into a large mixing bowl

Make a well in the center and add the eggs, beat well together until the sugar has dissolved completely

Add the sunflower oil and vanilla essence and mix well

Sift in the flour and baking powder, alternating with the milk and stir well to combine into a smooth dropping consistency

Spoon into the baking tin and place in the preheated oven

Bake the Lamingtons for 30 minutes, remove from the oven and allow to cool for in tin for 15 minutes

Turn out the Johnson's Specials onto a wire rack and to cool completely

Cut the long end of the cake into 8 equal pieces and the short end into 6 equal pieces and set aside

It helps if you place the cake in the fridge for 30 minutes before cutting them

To prepare the coating:- Mix the icing sugar, softened butter and cocoa powder together

Add the almond essence if using

Add sufficient boiling water to make a thin icing sauce

Using a slotted spoon, dip each Lamington into the sauce making sure the cake squares are completely covered

While still wet roll each coated square into the coconut and set aside to dry

Note:- Some people insist on leaving the cake for a day before cutting and turning into Lamingtons, personally I don't think it's necessary

After trying this great Lamington Recipe you will want to try the other South African Recipes on this website.

Hover your mouse over the top 3 buttons and select another equally delicious recipe.

My Africhef African Recipes Cookbook is currently unavailable as I am revising it and re-writing it in Kindle format, meanwhile I suggest the following

THANKS!... Africhef

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