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New Zealand Louise Cake

Made from crumbly, buttery shortcake topped with a layer of tart berry jam and crispy coconut meringue. Louise cake is one of New Zealand's favourite sweet treats!

Today I’m taking another trip down memory lane to the sweets and cakes of my childhood in New Zealand. Louise Cake is much beloved in NZ, star of many a country market and school fair, and for good reason!

Louise cake is a delicious concoction made in three layers: crumbly buttery shortcake, tart berry jam, all topped with crispy coconut meringue.

New Zealand Louise Cake in slices on a wooden board with fresh meadow flowers on the side.

Simple and Delicious

Louise Cake is the sort of thing your grandmother might have whipped up for an after school treat. Like many old kiwi recipes, it’s very simple to make.

While you can make Louise Cake entirely by hand, you’ll find life easier with an electric beater to whip the meringue.

I like to bake my Louise cake all in one go, though for a crisper base you can bake the shortcake, then cool and spread with jam before a second bake to set the meringue.

PRO TIP: It is easiest to separate eggs when they are cold from the fridge.

Ingredients

To make Louise Cake you’ll need the following main ingredients:

  • Butter: I always use unsalted butter in my baking so that I can control the flavour and amount of salt in the finished product.
  • Sugar: Plain white sugar or caster sugar will give you the fluffiest meringue.
  • Eggs: This recipe uses 3 egg yolks in the base and the whites in the meringue. Make sure to use an extra clean bowl when beating the egg whites so that they whip up well.
  • Flour: Plain or all purpose flour will work in this recipe.
  • Vanilla extract or essence: This is Nana baking, plain vanilla essence tastes just fine.
  • Berry Jam: Use a good quality berry jam to stop this treat from being too sweet. The Bonne Maman range are expensive but very good. I like to add a little lemon juice or citric acid to the jam to make it even more tart.
  • Desiccated Coconut: Coconut gives the meringue a lovely flavour and crunch, but if you don’t like it or don’t have it, simply leave it out.

Make sure to use a nice tart jam like raspberry to get a good flavour. I’d suggest crushing a few fresh berries into the jam, if you have them, to give it a lovely freshness.

New Zealand Louise Cake in slices on a wooden board with fa knife on the side.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

I don’t like coconut. Can I leave it out?

Of course, just omit it from the recipe.

I like a very crisp base to my slice. Can I really bake this all in one?

This is the classic way to make Louise cake and results in a very moist, crumbly shortcake base. If you would like the base to be crunchier, you’ll need to bake the base and let it cool before topping with jam and the meringue mixture. Make sure to prick it all over with a fork, bake for 20 minutes, allow to cool and then proceed as per the recipe.

How long will Louise Cake keep?

3-5 days or so in a container. The meringue may soften after the first day.


New Zealand Louise Cake sliced on a wooden board.
New Zealand Louise Cake in slices on a wooden board with fresh meadow flowers on the side.

New Zealand Louise Cake Recipe

New Zealand Louise Cake slices on a board,

New Zealand Louise Cake

Yield: 12 slices
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Made from crumbly, buttery shortcake topped with a layer of tart berry jam and crispy coconut meringue. Louise cake is one of New Zealand's favourite sweet treats!

Ingredients

for the shortcake:

  • 100 g (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 50 g (4 Tbsp) sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250 g (2 cups) plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 150 g (approx. 1 cup) berry jam
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice

for the coconut meringue:

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 tsp cornflour / cornstarch
  • 150 g (¾ cup) sugar
  • 100 g (1 cup) desiccated coconut

optional:

  • icing/confectioners sugar, to dust

Instructions

  1. PREPARE: Heat oven to 180°C / 350° F / Gas 4. Line a 20 x 30 cm (8 x 12 in.) baking pan with baking paper and lightly grease.
  2. MAKE SHORTCAKE: Beat butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the vanilla extract and stir well. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together, then stir through the butter mixture until you have a soft, pliable dough. Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan.
  3. ADD JAM: Mix the jam and lemon juice together, then spread evenly over the base.
  4. MAKE MERINGUE: Clean your mixing bowl with hot water, wipe it out with a little vinegar to remove any oils, then add the egg whites and cornflour / cornstarch to the bowl. Whisk using an electric mixer until soft peaks form, then add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, beating all the while, until the mixture is thick and glossy.
  5. ADD COCONUT AND BAKE: Fold through the coconut, then spoon the meringue evenly over the base. Bake in the bottom third of the preheated oven for 30 minutes, until the meringue is lightly golden.
  6. COOL AND SERVE: Allow to cool in the tin before lifting out, slicing into 12 and serving. If you like, dust with icing sugar.

Notes

As this is a fairly sweet cake I’d recommend using a very tart jam. Raspberry is the classic, and even then I would still mix it with 2 Tbsp of lemon juice to contrast the sweetness a little.

This is the classic way to make Louise cake and results in a very moist, crumbly shortcake base. If you would like the base to be crunchier, you’ll need to bake the base and let it cool before topping with jam and the meringue mixture. Make sure to prick it all over with a fork, bake for 20 minutes, allow to cool and then proceed as per the recipe.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 331Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 80mgSodium: 154mgCarbohydrates: 52gFiber: 2gSugar: 33gProtein: 5g

Nutrition information is calculated automatically and isn’t always accurate.

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Jay Wadams
Jay Wadams

Jay Wadams is a cookbook author and food photographer. Jay is the author of two cookbooks: 'Tasty' (2017) and 'Simply Summer' (2019). Based in Italy 🇮🇹 Germany 🇩🇪 and Australia 🇦🇺.

Articles: 289

2 Comments

  1. I have been trying some louise cake recipes but this is the best recipe. It’s a win! I’m now your instant fan and will try your other recipes.

    • Hi Mari, wow, you have absolutely made my Sunday with your lovely comment! I’m so happy
      You enjoyed this recipe, it is a real childhood favourite of mine. Thank you for taking the time to write and I hope you find lots more tasty recipes here! J.

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