Louise Cake

Lousie Cake - NZDadsI’m amazed at how many people have never heard of Louise Cake… if you have, you’re clearly one of the lucky ones. Buttery moist cake like base (it’s almost a pastry to be honest!), baked, then smothered in jam (traditionally raspberry), then topped with a coconut meringue, before being baked again.

I recently purchased a slice of Louise Cake to take away from a cafe, and to my horror when I arrived home and sat down (with my cup of tea) to eat it, I realised they had given me the wrong one. Instead, I had a caramel meringue slice – yuk. Okay, it was still pretty tasty, but I’m not the biggest caramel fan so it was a bit overwhelming for me. Needless to say, my Louise Cake crave was not fixed.

You can find a classic Louise cake recipe in your Edmonds recipe book, it’s one I’ve made dozens of times, but find you need about three pieces to feel satisfied. It’s true with many of those old school recipes, the portions and ratios of base to topping were much smaller. So my version has a thicker more decadent base, and today I’ve chosen to smother it in homemade feijoa jam, but you could use any of your favourite jams, preserves, or even a lemon curd. The coconut topping is also thick, and I’ve tried not to add too much sugar. I find with the base and jam, the meringue doesn’t need to be overly sweet, however, it does require enough sugar to give it that wonderful thick glossy texture.

Tips: Room temperature eggs are best for baking with.

To separate eggs I just crack them in the middle and pour the egg yolk between the two halves over a bowl until the white drops out and the yolk is remaining in the shell. If you’re not confident to do this then you can use a fancy egg separator contraption.

The key is that you don’t want any yolk in with the whites, but a bit of egg white with the yolks is A-Okay.    

Ingredients (makes 20-25 pieces):

Base

  • 180 grams butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp coconut essence (use vanilla if you don’t have coconut essence)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 1/4 cups self-raising flour

Topping

  • 1 cup of jam
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup sugar – caster sugar is best
  • 1 1/2 cups of desiccated or thread coconut

Method:

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius, and line a 20 x 25cm baking tray with baking paper (allow the baking paper to come up higher than the tin if possible.

Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until creamed. If you have a free-standing cake mixer it makes this job really really easy. Once creamed add your egg yolks and coconut essence, mix till well combined.

Now add the flour and stir, or mix well until you have a crumbly dough. Press the dough evenly into your lined pan. Bake for 18-20 minutes till risen and lightly golden on top. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for ten minutes before adding the toppings. Increase the oven temperature to 180 degrees Celsius.

While the base bakes, prepare the topping. If you are using the same bowl on your mixer, make sure that the bowl is thoroughly cleaned. You don’t want any of the butter residues in the bowl otherwise the whites will not whip properly. Beat the egg whites on high using a free-standing or hand electric mixer.

Once thickened, gradually add the sugar. I add a few spoonfuls at a time while continuing beating. You eventually want the mixture to be thick white and glossy, like meringue. You may want to rub a little of the mix between your fingers to check that the sugar has dissolved. If it still feels quite grainy, beat for another couple of minutes. Finally, fold in the coconut.

On the slightly cooled base, spread your jam evenly, getting right to the edges. (Note: If your base has shrunk down during cooling, that’s fine – remember it’s a cross between a cake and a pastry). Use a spatula to dollop and spread the coconut meringue mixture evenly across the top of the jam.

Once spread, I rough up the top a bit so that it’s not too smooth. Pop back into the oven for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden on top. Allow cooling for 5-10 minutes before using a sharp knife to slice the still warm slice into 20-25 pieces. Then leave to cool completely before removing from the tin.

This is ideal served with mugs of hot tea. Enjoy x

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