The Louise cake, or lady’s caprice is a cake from New Zealand.
The Louise cake consists of a layer of shortcake crust, raspberry jam and crispy coconut meringue. As pastry making is not quite elaborate in New Zealand, the Louise cake is probably a heritage from the British settlers in this region of the globe.
What is Louise cake?
Halfway between a biscuit and a cake, the Louise cake is a must in New Zealand pastry. It is traditionally served in the form of squares but it can also be served in the form of rectangular slices.
Louise cake is made up of three layers of different textures and flavors.
First, a layer of crisp biscuit, halfway between the sponge cake and the shortcrust pastry. This layer is then covered with a layer of raspberry or strawberry jam. Finally, everything is topped with a generous layer of coconut meringue before baking.
What is the origin of Louise cake?
No one can confirm with certainty the origin of the Louise cake. However, there are rumors that it dates back to when the British settled in New Zealand following Captain Cook’s expeditions.
Other sources claim that the Louise cake was created for the wedding of Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Louise.
What are the variants of the Louise cake?
The Louise cake is a traditional rustic cake which comes in several variations. Indeed, in New Zealand, some variants of Louise cake use cranberry or plum jam instead of raspberry jam.
A brief history of New Zealand
New Zealand was discovered in 1642 by Abel Tasman. Before this date, New Zealand was unknown to Europeans.
Indeed, they only arrived late in Oceania. It was Captain James Cook aboard the Endeavor who rediscovered this island during his expedition of 1768-1771. Between Abel Tasman and James Cook, no European set foot in New Zealand.
Captain James Cook was sent by the British government for exploration. Also, the latter arrived in New Zealand in 1769. Originally, he intended to travel to Australia. He quickly realized that the island he had accidentally discovered was not Australia. He navigated along the coast of the island and began to explore.
Renowned for his attention to detail, Captain James Cook set out to map the country with a view to possible colonization. His maps of New Zealand and Australia were later used for other maritime explorations.
The Bakewell tart from England is certainly a cousin of the Louise cake. Unlike the Louise cake, the Bakewell tart does not contain coconut. Instead, the coconut meringue is replaced by almond cream.
The similarity between the two cakes is based on the fact that the two desserts consist of a contrast of layers of different textures and flavors. Like the Louise cake, the Bakewell tart is a dessert that consists of three layers: a layer of shortcake crust, a layer of raspberry jam, and finally a layer of almond cream.
Famous pastries in Australia and New Zealand
Pavlova is the hugely popular dessert made from meringue and fresh fruit, created in homage to the Russian star dancer Anna Pavlova. It remains the most famous New Zealand dessert worldwide. Also, New Zealanders and Australians are still fighting for its paternity until today.
It is a coconut cake that is widely popular in Australia. Lamington comes in the form of small cubes of sponge cake coated with chocolate icing that are rolled in the coconut.
New Zealand pastry often draws inspiration from British pastry. This is why it is not surprising to find the scones on all the brunch and breakfast tables in New Zealand. The origin of the scone recipe, however, is attributed to England, although some New Zealanders believe the opposite.
- 1 cup butter (soft)
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups flour , sifted
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 6 oz. raspberry jam
- 5 egg whites
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 2½ cups unsweetened shredded coconut
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 320F / 160C.
Line a 12 x 10 inch (30x24 cm) pan with parchment paper.
- In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until obtaining a creamy consistency.
- Stir in the egg yolks and vanilla, then stir in the flour and baking powder to make a slightly crumbly dough.
Pour the dough into the pan and press it to form a compact base of about ½ inch (1,5 cm) thickness.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, until slightly golden.
- While the base is baking, prepare the coconut meringue filling.
- Coconut meringue
- Add the egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat them until soft peaks form.
- Gradually stir in the sugar until the mixture forms a shiny meringue.
- Gently fold in the coconut and vanilla with a spatula.
- Let the baked sponge cake base cool for 10 minutes.
- Spread the jam over it, then spread the coconut mixture over the jam.
- Bake until the top is crisp and slightly golden, for about 30 to 35 minutes.
- Cut about 20 to 25 pieces. Let cool, then store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.