louise cake with plums and coconut
When my copy of Sweet arrived, the baking book by Ottolenghi and Helen Goh, my eyes were drawn to the Louise Cake with plums. I just had to wait patiently until plums came back into season. Traditionally a Louise Cake is made with raspberry jam, so don't let the absence of fresh plums hold you back.
The cake or slice has 3 parts - a lemon flavoured base/a layer of fruit or jam and a topping of coconut meringue. I decided to hold true to tradition and used flaked coconut in the topping instead of the toasted flaked almonds in the version found in Sweet.
I also added an additional step, dredging the plum slices with sugar before baking. I bake with plums all the time and sometimes they can be unexpectedly tart.
I decided to make a small batch of Louise cake which I baked in a 7 inch square tin without a removable base. I was concnerned the slce might implode upon removal but cooling it for an hour in the fridge seemed to do the trick
Here's the recipe for you. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C.
Louise cake with plums and coconut - adapted from a recipe from Sweet
60 g unsalted butter, softened and cut into 2 cm cubes
50 g caster sugar
½ tsp lemon zest
60 g plain flour
¾ tsp baking powder
10 g desiccated coconut
40 ml whole milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
5 small dark red plums, ripe but firm or peaches, apricots, cherries, etc.
30 g flaked coconut
70g egg whites
92 g caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp vinegar
½ tsp cornflour
Heat the oven to 180ºC. Line the base and sides of a high-sided cake tin (preferably with a removable base) with baking parchment. You can use either a 7 inch square or a 17cm round tin.
To make the cake place the butter, sugar and lemon zest into a food processor and mix until the butter is light and creamy. Add the egg and process until combined. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the shredded coconut and combine well. Pour the flour mixture, the milk and vanilla into the food processor and whiz to make a soft batter. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and even the top with a spoon. Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden or when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
While the cake cools down, prepare the plums. Divide each plum vertically in half. Discard the stones and then slice every half into four segments. If you use smaller plums or cherries, then just quarter each fruit. Dredge the plums with sugar and place to one side while you prepare the meringue.
To make the meringue, in the bowl of a stand mixer whisk the egg whites and salt on medium-high speed until soft peaks from. Add the sugar a tbs at a time and continue whisking on a high speed until the egg whites become stiff and glossy. Add the vanilla, vinegar and cornflour and whisk again. Finally, add most of the coconut flakes reserving a few tbs for the topping.
Arrange the plum pieces on top of the cake, close to each other and cut side down. Try not to overlap the fruit; otherwise, it will make the middle layer of the cake watery. Distribute the meringue on top of the plums. Swirl the meringue around in order to get rough waves and peaks. Sprinkle over a few coconut flakes.
Bake for 35-40 minutes at 180º C or until the meringue has formed a crust and is lightly coloured. If the meringue is browning too quickly you may need to shield the top with a piece of baking paper. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for at least 30 minutes before removing from the tin. Cut into 9 squares to serve.
This is a very tasty treat with a bit of a tang from the plums. The cake is best served on the day but it can be stored for up to 2 days in the fridge in an airtight tin. I'm now going to work on a version for Passover probably using jam rather than fresh fruit but we shall see.
Anyway I'll be back again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.
Bye for now,