Old-fashioned treat worth sharing

19:02, Oct 31 2012
Louise cake
Old-fashioned louise cake.

This week I have a debt to pay. The debt is for a good recipe for louise cake, so I hope the following will wipe the slate clean.

Louise cake is an old Kiwi favourite, most likely brought to New Zealand by English settlers.

The cake, which is more like a square today, is said to have been named after Princess Louise, a daughter of Queen Victoria, when it was presented in all its grandeur at her wedding.

During the 19th century, wedding cakes were very popular and the grander the better. They had come a long way from the original tradition, where the bride and groom would share a piece of barley bread and then the groom would break the rest over the bride's head - a sign of the groom's dominance over her.

This tradition has long been lost, but the unsweetened breads were served at wedding celebrations through medieval times.

About the 17th century, a dish called a "bride's pie" replaced the unsweetened breads.


The pie was generally filled with sweetened fruits and would often have a glass ring hidden within the pie. It is said the woman who found the ring would be the next to wed.

Having a cake as a celebration piece for a wedding has been a long-standing tradition that has evolved over time.

Cake was traditionally served at the wedding breakfast.

Eventually the cakes were made from fruit, which could be stored for longer periods of time.

To ensure their storage, they were covered with a frosting consisting of heavy fat and sugar, with the tiered design believed to have originated from the tiered spire of St Bride's Church in London.

These days three tiers seems to be the norm, with the bottom tier enjoyed during the reception, the second tier generally distributed among the guests and the third tier kept for the christening of the first child.

That tradition has also changed, with the top tier also likely to be used to celebrate the first anniversary of the wedding.

Back to today's debt, louise cake. From memory, my mum used a very simple recipe for louise cake, starting with a measure of sugar. She would then add double the sugar's weight in butter and then three times that weight of flour, add a couple of eggs straight from the chook run and some baking powder and that was the base.

She would spread that with homemade raspberry jam and a meringue on the top and, voila, there was a louise cake.


25g sugar

50g butter

150g flour

2 egg yolks

1 tsp baking powder

Sufficient raspberry jam to generously cover the pastry base

2 egg whites

125g sugar

50g coconut

Method: Place the butter and sugar in a bowl and cream until light in colour and very fluffy.

Add the egg yolks one at a time and continue to beat.

If the mixture appears to slightly curdle, sprinkle with a little flour to bring back to a light, fluffy, creamy state.

Using a stainless-steel spoon, cut in the sifted flour and baking powder and mix to a good soft dough.

Press into a greased jam-roll tin or square tin and generously spread with the raspberry jam.

Beat the egg whites until stiff, then gently fold in the sugar and coconut and spread over top of the jam.

Place in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius and bake for 30 minutes.

Graham Hawkes runs Paddington Arms at the Queens Dr, Bainfield Rd roundabout.

The Southland Times