The Louise Cake is a classic Kiwi tea time slice. I imagine that it’s been around for decades, because first of all it’s called Louise so it must date back to the Seventies at least. It doesn’t have any fancy ingredients, a simple treat that goes very well with a cup of tea and a yarn. It’s made up of three layers; “cakey” biscuit bottom, jam and coconut meringue topping.
What I love about this, is that you can easily make it gluten and/or dairy free, it’s nut free too so you can pack it off in the children’s lunch boxes or donate it to a school cake sale. Plus you can have fun with the middle layer; it could be any flavour jam, or lemon curd, caramel or if you can eat nuts, you could spread Nutella in there. Oh my gosh, I want to do that right now! Despite having three layers, it is quick and easy to make and it looks really pretty.
I’ve used the recipe given by Natalie Oldfield in the The Great New Zealand Baking Book and I’ll note the variations where I would make them.
For the cake:
150g softened butter (for dairy free you could use 150g margarine or 130g coconut oil, I use odour free)
1/4 cup caster sugar
2 egg yolks
2 cups of self raising flour (for gluten free you can use the equivalent GF flour, or go half GF flour and almond meal, if you can eat nuts. It will come out a slightly denser base, which is no bad thing)
3/4 cup jam/curd/caramel/Nutella
For the meringue:
2 egg whites (I actually add a third here, which I know wastes a yolk but it’s worth it for a higher meringue)
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 and 1/2 cup desiccated coconut (if you don’t like coconut you could just have it as plain meringue, but unless you are allergic I would suggest trying it as it’s subtle)
Pre-heat your oven to 180°, or 160° if it’s a fan oven. Grease and line a 30cm by 20cm slice tin (I used a square 22cm by 22cm, loose bottomed tin. The loose bottom makes it easier to get out without crushing the meringue)
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (praise the Lord for my Kitchen Aid), then add the egg yolks and beat well. Sift the flour in and mix in thoroughly.
Now with a doughy mixture you can press it into the bottom of the tin. I use my fingers to get it right to the corners and edges, then the back of a spoon to get a level and smooth finish. Then spread your middle of choice over the top, I used strawberry jam for the one above.
Whisk up the two egg whites with the sugar until you have a thick, going towards stiff consistency. Fold in the coconut, or not if you don’t like it (weirdos!). Gently spread the meringue on top of the jam, on top of the cake.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, to when the meringue is browning on top. Let it cool off fully in the tin.
Pop it out of the tin, and I would cut 12 slices out of this.
It’s just so yummy.