Who doesn’t love a slice of Louise Cake?!
If you haven’t had the pleasure of eating Louise Cake it’s a rather old-fashioned New Zealand slice that has a soft, shortbread base, jam in the centre and a coconut meringue topping. Traditionally it’s made in a slice tin so is not really a cake (see history below) and with the jam and the crispy meringue, when cut into small pieces, can look quite dainty, just perfect for a garden party or with other treats on a tiered plate at a High Tea.
My Mother didn’t bake a lot when I was growing up, I got my love of baking from my Nana. I only remember Mum baking scones and Louise Cake (both from The Edmonds Cookbook of course!) and Louise Cake is her favourite, so this recipe is for you Mum!
A bit of History – I was disappointed that I couldn’t find the exact origin of Louise Cake as I am such a ‘Curious George’…or a ‘know it all’…probably 50/50! The best I found was that it was brought to New Zealand by British settlers as it’s supposedly named it after Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Louise’s, wedding cake. This would explain why it’s called a cake even though it’s presented as a slice (thought of that all by myself!).
This Louise Cake recipe has the classic, coconut filled, sweet meringue top but with a slightly different base as I’ve added custard powder which gives it a nice flavour and a slightly more tender texture…I hope you make it, especially if you’re not from New Zealand and haven’t tried it before, it’s a treat!
125 g butter (at room temperature)
¾ cup / 170 g castor sugar (superfine)
2 large eggs (I use size 7’s)
1 ¾ cups / 265 g standard flour
2 tablespoons, slightly rounded / 20 g custard powder
1 teaspoon, slightly rounded, baking powder
¼ cup / 80 g strawberry or raspberry jam
½ cup / 110 g castor sugar (superfine)
½ cup / 40 g desiccated coconut
Optional – 1 tablespoon / 5 g shredded coconut
- I use castor sugar (superfine in the US) for everything I bake but it’s perfectly okay to use normal white sugar for this recipe.
- I sprinkle shredded coconut over the top before it goes into the oven, I think the bigger shreds look better (just me). You don’t need to put anything on top, but if you’d like to, but don’t have any shredded, just use desiccated instead.
STEP BY STEP
First, turn the oven to 150°C / 300°F fan/convection oven or 170°C / 325°F conventional oven, on bake, with a rack situated just below the centre of the oven.
If the butter isn’t at a warm room temperature cut it into small cubes and leave it out for at least an hour (or more if your house is cold!) or you can pop it in the microwave on 50% / ½ power for 30 seconds and then 15-second increments until it’s soft (we don’t want any melty bits though).
- Butter is soft enough to cream when you can easily push your finger into it and it leaves a nice, soft indentation. 🙂
Next, spray a 27 x 16 cm / 10 ½ x 6 ½” (or close to) standard-sized, slice tin with non-stick cooking spray and then line it with non-stick baking paper (for this slice make sure the paper is a little higher than the sides of the tin).
Getting started, place the butter and sugar in a medium-sized bowl and using electric beaters on medium-speed, cream the two together for around 2 minutes or until it’s creamy and has paled in colour (the time will depend on how soft the butter is).
Next, separate the eggs, adding the yolks to the creamed butter and sugar and placing the whites in a separate medium-sized bowl.
Then beat the yolks in until it’s nicely blended.
Scrape the bowl down and add the flour, custard powder and baking powder and using the beaters mix it all together until just combined (it’ll be fairly crumbly).
Give the lined tin a light going over with the cooking spray and fairly firmly and as evenly as possible, press the dough into the tin.
Still on medium-speed, beat the egg whites for 2 minutes or until they are stiff-peaked (the peaks stand straight up and do not flop over when the beaters are lifted from the mixture).
Go on to add the sugar and coconut to the whipped egg-whites and using a large spoon or spatula gently fold them through the whites.
- You can get away with fewer folds if you use a larger utensil.
Spread the jam all over the base…
- Now, I know what you are thinking (because I would too)….”oh, that’s not enough, I need to put more on” but try to refrain, the base isn’t that thick and the more jam you put on the more it soaks into the base and it’ll become soggy. It also depends on the jam, you may get away with adding more if using a thicker jam.
…and then spoon on the meringue mixture and carefully spread it out, overtop of the jam.
If you like, you can sprinkle a tablespoon of shredded coconut over the top before you place it in the oven to bake for 30 minutes or until it’s an even tan colour all over.
- If your tin is larger than mine it may be ready 5 minutes sooner as your base is thinner or if your tin is smaller it may take 5 minutes longer as your base will be thicker. 🙂
Whilst it’s still warm in the tin, lightly cut it into slices (if you cut it whilst warm the top won’t break up as much).
I cut mine 4 x 3.
A delicious afternoon tea slice!
Keeping it fresh – If stored in an airtight container and kept in a cool pantry, will keep nicely up to a week (it’s really not going to be around that long!).