Louise Cake, with its shortcake crust slathered with raspberry jam and crowned with a delicately crisp coconut meringue, has been part of the New Zealand landscape for a very long time.
Where does it come from?
Its origins aren’t very clear, but rumour has it that it was created for the wedding of Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Louise. The recipe for Louise Cake (which is now more a slice than a cake) was more than likely brought to New Zealand by British settlers. Since then it has become one of our most beloved slices, but in recent years has suffered the indignity of being called ‘old fashioned’.
Thankfully, you can never keep a good thing down and this little stalwart of New Zealand culinary history is making a bit of a comeback, even turning up in trendy cafes. And why wouldn’t it? It’s a fabulous slice that combines wonderful flavours and textures. Yes, it’s quite sweet, but when paired with a dollop of cream and even some fresh berries on the side, it’s truly delectable. It’s also a breeze to make and this lovely recipe comes from one of the doyens of New Zealand cookery – Alison Holst.
Take it from me, you’ve got to try this out!
Louise Cake Slice
For the base:
- 3.5 oz softened butter
- 1/2 cup ugar
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 1 cup self-raising flour
- 1 cup standard (plain) flour
For the topping:
- 1/2 cup good-quality raspberry jam
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup coconut shreds, divided
- Heat oven to 160°C (320°F). Line the sides and bottom of a pan about 18x28cm (7x11inch) with baking paper, allowing enough extra paper on the sides for lifting the cooked slice out, or spray a 23cm square loose-bottomed pan.
- For the base, put the softened butter, sugar, egg yolks and vanilla into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until combined.
- Add the two flours and pulse a few times until evenly crumbly – if you pinch the mixture, it should hold together.
- Tip the mixture into prepared pan and press down firmly and evenly.
- Bake for 15 minutes. Once done, take out the pan (but don’t turn the oven off) and set on a rack to cool for about 5-10 minutes.
- While the base is cooling, beat the egg whites and vanilla until frothy, then add the sugar gradually and beat until not quite stiff (the tips of peaks should droop when the beater is lifted from them). Then fold half a cup of the coconut evenly through the meringue.
- Spread the jam over top of the warm base. Drop the meringue in spoonfuls on top, then spread evenly with a knife or spatula. Sprinkle with the remaining coconut.
- Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the meringue feels just lightly crisp on the outside and is evenly and lightly coloured (the coconut on the top should be lightly toasted).
- Cool completely before cutting into pieces, during which time the base will firm up. Serve as is, or with a dollop of cream.
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