I love trying classic recipes. Some well known and dearly beloved, others slightly forgotten. Today I am gently crafting a simple cake named after Princess Louise of England, Queen Victoria’s daughter. Louise Cake is an old-fashioned New Zealand favourite consisting of a thin base layer of cake or biscuit crumbs (cookie crumbs) topped with raspberry or plum jam, coconut meringue and then baked in the oven. It is also called Louise Cake Slice because it’s baked in a rectangular pan and cut into squares.
There are so many variations on this beautiful dessert. Whether you might wish to slice it in pieces or offer in a classic cake form, it always makes for a breathtaking masterpiece.
I have discovered this recipe in one of my favourite cookbooks called most appropriately “Sweet” by Yotam Ottolenghi & Helen Goh – published by Ebury Press. The original recipe calls for the use of plums instead of strawberry jam, but as we are short on food supplies at home, I happily had to improvise.
The cake is sumptuously delicious. Lovely soft cake base, layered with strawberry jam and topped with heavenly crunchy meringue, with mushy soft inside. The cake is better eaten on the day its made but is certainly fine the day after. The meringue loses some of its crunchiness the following day and the cake could get a little soggy. The authors recommend using any seasonal fruit (peaches, apricots or cherries being alternatives) and they need to be ripe but not too soft. As spring is already here, next time I will certainly try perhaps with raspberries and rhubarb.
- 125g butter at room temperature (I always use salted even though the recipe calls for unsalted)
- 100g caster sugar
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (1tsp)
- 3 large egg yolks
- 125g plain flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 20g desiccated coconut
- 80ml milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 5 tbs strawberry jam
- 60g flaked almonds
- 140g egg whites (I used 4 ½ egg whites but it all depends on the size of your eggs)
- 1/8th tsp salt
- 185g caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp cornflour
1. Preheat the oven to 170c/150C fan.
2. Spread the almonds out on a baking tray and roast for 10 minutes until golden brown. Remove and set aside to cool.
3. Increase the oven temp to 185C /165C fan and line your 23 cm cake tin with baking paper or 20cm high sided square tin with removable base).
4. Cream the butter, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest in the bowl of a stand mixer with a balloon whisk until pale and creamy. Add the egg yolks while the mixer is running one at a time making sire they are well incorporated before adding the next one.
5. In a separate bowl sift the flour, salt and baking powder together.
6. With the mixer on a low speed add the coconut and then add the flour and milk in alternating parts and mix briefly to combine. Do not over mix.
7. Remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom. Decant this into your lined cake tin and spread to even out the surface. Bake for 25 minutes and until its firm to the touch, light golden and when a skewer is inserted into the middle it comes out clean.
8. Cover the cake with strawberry jam.
9. Turn the oven temp up to 200C. To make the meringue ensure your bowl and whisk are spotlessly clean. Beat the egg whites with the salt until soft peak stage, about a minute. Add the caster sugar a tablespoon at a time and then continue to beat for about 5 – 6 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the meringue is glossy. Add the vanilla, vinegar, and cornflour and mix to combine.
10. Fold the almonds through by hand and then pile this on top of the cake with the jam layer. Return to the oven, immediately lower the temperature to 150C and bake for 35 minutes and until the meringue has formed a hard crust. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for at least half an hour before removing it from the tin and peeling off the paper. Dust with a little icing sugar and serve when cool.