Louise Cake is a classic New Zealand Baking recipe, with a buttery shortbread base, a layer of raspberry jam, and a coconut Swiss meringue topping.
Table of contents
- Louise Cake - a traditional New Zealand Baking Recipe.
- What is Louise Cake?
- Components of Louise Cake
- How to make Swiss Meringue
- Can the meringue topping be made thinner?
- Desiccated vs Shredded Coconut
- Using binder clips in baking
- FAQ for Louise Cake
- For more New Zealand Recipes, check out:
- Recipe for Louise Cake
Louise Cake - a traditional New Zealand Baking Recipe.
Hi hi! I am just popping in here to share the updated recipe for my Louise Cake! Louise cake is a classic New Zealand Baking Recipe, and one that was my Grandad's favourite and one I remember baking with my Grandma from a super young age. I figured it was about time to give my recipe a refresh - the original was posted here in 2017!
What is Louise Cake?
Louise cake is a super delicious homemade slice (or bar) recipe, made up of a buttery vanilla shortbread base, a layer of raspberry jam, then a coconut meringue topping. The whole thing gets assembled before it is baked, which makes things super easy, although there are a few components to it. You really can't beat baked from scratch.
This recipe comes from my Grandma's recipe book, however in my research I found that a lot of Louise cake recipes are super, super similar - I am sure they all come from a similar source!
Components of Louise Cake
There are three components to Louise Cake - the butter biscuit base, a raspberry jam middle layer, and the meringue topping. The original recipe used three eggs and three yolks, with the yolks going into the base and the whites into the topping, but I bumped up the meringue quantity to have five whites in the topping to increase the base to meringue ratio.
This leaves you with two left over egg yolks, but I have a whole bunch of recipes that are a good way to use up egg yolks if you are looking for ideas - these cookies are especially good.
- Shortbread base. This is a super simple buttery shortbread base, which is cakey and chewy from the egg yolks. It comes together super quickly and the batter is pressed into a lined pan. I keep mine super plain but you can play around with whatever you like - it would be super delicious with some lemon zest added into the louise cake base.
- Raspberry Jam. I use Raspberry jam here as this is what is 'traditional', but you are welcome to use whatever you like here - another berry flavour or a homemade jam would be delicious as the middle layer of your Louise Cake.
- Coconut Meringue Topping. I love adding coconut to desserts, and this meringue layer is no different. It is a thick layer of coconut swiss meringue, spread over the base and jam layers before the whole thing goes into the oven.
How to make Swiss Meringue
The original recipe for Louise Cake uses a French meringue, which involves whipping sugar and egg whites together until thick and glossy, then adding in the coconut and spreading over the Louise Cake base.
I prefer a thicker meringue, so bumped the meringue up to use five egg whites. However when I tried this with a French meringue, it was way too eggy. So I switched to my old faithful, Swiss meringue. Swiss meringue is made by cooking together sugar and egg whites over a double boiler. This dissolves the sugar, and heats the whites, bringing them to a food safe temperature, which means Swiss meringue can be used in things that aren't going to be baked, and is perfect for torching.
Swiss meringue is super stable, so it is a great base for a pavlova or a buttercream, and also works perfectly on the top of this Louise cake.
- Make sure the bowl and equipment are very clean. Meringue works best when there is no fat at all in the bowl - I like to give the bowl and beaters a little wipe with a cut lemon to help remove any grease.
- Cook together egg whites and sugar. I do this over a makeshift double boiler with a metal bowl. Whisk constantly until the mixture registers 160°f / 70°c on a thermometer. Alternatively you can check to see if it is ready by rubbing some of the mixture between your fingers. You want to make sure you can't feel any grains of sugar. It is going into the oven so heating it to the exact temperature needed isn't as important here.
- Remove from the stove. Do this carefully - the edges of the bowl will be hot and you don't want to drop hot egg white syrup all over your kitchen (trust me).
- Whip the Swiss meringue. You can either do this with a hand mixer, which will take about 5 minutes, or you can use a stand mixer. Whip the egg whites until stiff peaks are just starting to form. This gives the mixture some time to cool down, although it is fine if it is still a little warm going onto the Louise cake. We aren't relying on the meringue for structure like we would a pavlova, where whipping it correctly is important.
Can the meringue topping be made thinner?
Yes, if you would still like a thinner meringue layer you are welcome to scale back the quantities to use three egg whites rather than five. The process and bake time will be exactly the same. You will just need to scale the sugar back to 170g.
The original topping recipe was super similar to this but a French meringue method - whip three egg whites until foamy, then add 185g sugar and beat until a stiff meringue forms. Fold through 100g coconut and proceed as written.
Desiccated vs Shredded Coconut
My original Louise Cake recipe used desiccated coconut, which is very finely shredded coconut. I use it quite a lot in baking - in Anzac Biscuits, Chocolate Crackle, and Peppermint Slice. Is it much finer in texture than shredded coconut, also called 'long thread' coconut.
I tested the recipe with both kinds of coconut and much prefer the shredded / more coarse version. However, if you only have desiccated on hand, that will work just fine. Just use the same amount by weight as the recipe calls for (this is why we love grams!)
Using binder clips in baking
I use binder clips on the sides of my baking pans, to secure the parchment to the sides of the pan. This stops the parchment from flapping around, and keeps things nice and clean.
Provided your binder clips are metal, they are fine to go in the oven. Just make sure that whatever you are baking doesn't rise too much so that they get baked in. The Swiss meringue on this Louise cake rises a little. It will just touches the clips, but will sink back down once out of the oven.
FAQ for Louise Cake
I used a 9" pan, which I double lined with parchment paper to form a 'sling' over the sides to make removing the baked louise cake easy.
Store Louise cake in an airtight container at room temperature. It stores for up to 3 days.
Louise cake is best eaten on the day it is made because of the meringue topping, but is still great a day or two after making. It doesn't keep super well so wouldn't be ideal to make ahead.
I used caster sugar in the initial tests of the recipe, as I needed it to dissolve well in the French meringue. However, because you are now cooking the egg whites together with the sugar which dissolves the sugar, you can use granulated sugar if that is all you have!
All-purpose flour is often also called plain flour or standard flour in other countries.
For more New Zealand Recipes, check out:
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Answers to your baking questions
Over the years, many of you have asked me questions about:
- baking in grams
- adjusting oven temperatures
- what kind of salt to use
- and many more!
I've curated and answered them all for your easy reference in this frequently asked questions post!
Recipe for Louise CakePrint
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: Makes 16 square slices 1x
- Category: Bars and Slices
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: New Zealand
Louise Cake is a classic New Zealand Baking recipe, with a buttery shortbread base, a layer of raspberry jam, and a coconut meringue topping.
- 115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 110g caster sugar
- 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- ½ tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 220g All-purpose flour
- 160g raspberry jam, or jam of your choice
Coconut Swiss Meringue
- 5 large egg whites (about 190g whites)
- 280g caster sugar
- ¼ tsp vanilla bean paste (optional)
- 165g shredded coconut
LOUISE CAKE BASE
- Preheat the oven to 350°f/180°c. Grease and line an 9" (23cm) pan with parchment paper that extends over both sides to form a 'sling'. Secure with metal binder clips if desired.
- In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric hand mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and mix to combine. Add the salt, baking powder, and flour, and mix on low speed until just combined, then finish by hand to ensure the mixture is not over mixed. Alternatively you can use the stand mixer with the paddle attachment to make the base mixture.
- Transfer the base mixture into the prepared tin. To do this I find it easiest to crumble the base mixture evenly in the pan, then pat down with my hands or the bottom of a flat measuring cup or drinking glass to ensure it is as flat and even as possible.
- Once the base mixture is smooth, top with the raspberry jam and spread to create an even layer. Leave to sit while you prepare the Swiss meringue topping.
COCONUT SWISS MERINGUE TOPPING
- Measure the egg whites and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer or other heatproof bowl. Place over a pot of simmering water, ensuring that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Heat the mixture, whisking often and watching the edges carefully, until it no longer feels gritty when rubbed between your fingers, and it registers at least 160°f / 70°c on a thermometer.
- Remove the bowl carefully from the double boiler, and whip with either an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, until the mixture is thick, glossy and white, and is just starting to form stiff peaks, 3-5 minutes depending on what equipment you are using (it took me 5 minutes with a handheld electric mixer). Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
- Add the coconut to the Swiss meringue and fold to incorporate.
- Spread the coconut meringue over the base of the Louise cake and spread evenly. Try not to have any little peaks of meringue poking up as these will bake unevenly in the oven.
- Bake the Louise cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the meringue is golden brown. The meringue will puff up, then sink down once removed from the oven. Place on a wire rack to cool.
- Allow to cool completely before using the parchment paper to remove from the pan and slicing into squares or rectangles using a sharp knife which has been run under hot water then wiped dry. Wipe the knife blade between cuts.
- Store leftovers at room temperature in an airtight container for up to three days.
Keywords: Louise Cake, Swiss Meringue, Raspberry Jam, Coconut, New Zealand
This was the first thing I ever learned to bake and is my favourite slice to make and eat, full of nostalgia (and vanilla, long live the free pour).
This recipe is perfect. Soft and tender shortcake base, tangy sweet jam, fluffy coconut meringue top, super well balanced for what is a pretty sweet recipe.
I've recently moved cities and haven't been able to get my Louise cake fix as I used to get it from a little home bakery run by three talented ladies in retirement, but this was on par if not better! It was so easy to make and came out just like the photos which doesn't always happen! The base is soft, light, and has a beautiful buttery flavour, with a perfect jam/coconut meringue ratio. Erin's recipes are foolproof every time, thank you!!
I'm from the USA. Is this a New Zealand or Aussie staple? Or possible South African? Do you pronounce this "loo-eaze" or "loo-ee" cake? Excited to make this in the spring. Seems buttery, fruity, and LOVELY!
Hi hi! It's Louise as in the woman's name! A classic nz staple, it's so good!
Can't wait to make this!
Hi Erin! Is this sweetened or unsweetened coconut?
The first time I’ve actually made Louise cake and this recipe was not only super easy to make but so so so delicious!! Def will be making it again!
Being from the states, I've never heard of Louise Cake before. I tried your recipe yesterday and it was delicious. I had a difficult time cutting it into clean slices from the meringue cracking on top - though I'm a relatively new baker so I chalk that up to user error. Thank you for the level of detail you put into your recipes, it gives me the confidence to branch out and try new techniques!
Another epic recipe! Love this NZ classic, we always use homemade raspberry jam for extra oomph. Did not disappoint, and was easy despite the Swiss meringue. 10/10
Hi there, worked really well compared to other recipes I've tried this tips. Thank you.
Ex pat living in France who gets homesick with my fellow kiwis here and this is a big hit, it reminds us of home and at every opportunity to get together we bake this Cloudy Kitchen recipe. Perfect portion size the base isn’t too hard or flakey it’s buttery and perfect I just love this!!!
I made this today and it was OUT OF THIS WORLD! I made the crust with gluten free flour because one of our guests is sensitive to it. The overall dessert was just delightful. Soft crust, tart raspberry jam and then a mile high layer of that amazing coconut meringue! This is 100% going to be a regular dessert here now - thank you for introducing us to this NZ treat!
Really delicious! I made this twice, because I had so much fun the first time around, so I wanted to do it again 🙂 Erin mentioned in the text before the recipe that the recommended salt quantity might vary, depending on which salt you use. The first time around, I followed the recipe and the result was great - but the saltiness was a tiny bit too much, so the flavors didn't blend as nicely. The 2nd time around, I reduced the salt by half and it was perfect!
Absolutely delicious! I really enjoyed the more savoury shortbread base with the contrasting jam and sweet coconut meringue.