This recipe for Louise cake with plum and coconut comes from Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh’s incredible new cookbook called ‘Sweet’. This book ‘speaks’ to me in every way and not only because I published a book with the exact same name in 2015 – and obviously, I think its a perfect name for a book with this subject matter, but I adore baking and dessert making. This book, like all of Ottolenghi’s previous books – including the ones he collaborated with other people on are amongst my favourite of all time and are the ones that constantly inspire me. Flipping through the pages of ‘Sweet’ I wanted to make every single recipe.
Not all the recipes in Sweet come from the Ottolenghi restaurant group – although some do. If they are available in one of the stores, the recipe will be an exact replica of what you will find there. They frequently mix things up adding bold flavours and new techniques to traditional recipes and I’m all for that. You can always expect the unexpected with Ottolenghi and this is what is so inspiring. Like his Middle eastern millionaire’s shortbread with halva and tahini caramel or his brûlée tarts infused with chai, everything in this book is fresh, lively and delicious.
The Louise cake caught my eye because I’m totally unfamiliar with it and I loved the sound of the fruit, almonds, coconut and meringue topping. Plums are incredible to bake with and this famous plum torte recipe is one of my favourites. The ingredient list is long here and there are a couple of stages but it really isn’t difficult at all. You will need to wash the bowl of your stand mixer while the cake is baking in order to mix up the meringue.
A traditional Louise cake is more of a slice with less meringue, but Yotam and Helen have made a showstopper with the amount of meringue they piled onto the cake and I love it. They make theirs in a loose-bottomed square tin, which I don’t have so I had to opt for a 23cm loose-bottomed round.
The cake is better eaten on the day its made but is certainly fine the day after. The meringue loses some of its crunchiness the following day and the cake could get a little soggy from the fruit. The authors recommend using any seasonal stone fruit (peaches, apricots or cherries being alternatives) and they need to be ripe but not too soft. The plums I bought were probably a little overripe but were not that sweet, so they gave the cake tartness which balanced out the sweetness. I think I would have preferred plums that were a little sweeter though.
Recipe from Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi & Helen Goh – published by Ebury Press (part of Penguin Random House UK)
- 125g butter at room temperature (I always use salted even though the recipe calls for unsalted)
- 100g caster sugar
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (1tsp)
- 3 large egg yolks
- 125g plain flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 20g desiccated coconut
- 80ml milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 5 dark red plums, ripe but firm (about 450g)
- 60g flaked almonds
- 140g egg whites (I used 4 ½ egg whites but it all depends on the size of your eggs)
- 1/8th tsp salt
- 185g caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp cornflour
Preheat the oven to 170c/150C fan.
Spread the almonds out on a baking tray and roast for 10 minutes until golden brown. Remove and set aside to cool.
Increase the oven temp to 185C /165C fan and line your 23 cm cake tin with baking paper or 20cm high sided square tin with removable base).
Cream the butter, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest in the bowl of a stand mixer with a balloon whisk until pale and creamy. Add the egg yolks while the mixer is running one at a time making sire they are well incorporated before adding the next one.
In a separate bowl sift the flour, salt and baking powder together.
With the mixer on a low speed add the coconut and then add the flour and milk in alternating parts and mix briefly to combine. Do not over mix.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom. Decant this into your lined cake tin and spread to even out the surface. Bake for 25 minutes and until its firm to the touch, light golden and when a skewer is inserted into the middle it comes out clean.
While the cake is baking, cut the plums in half and remove the pips. Cut each half into 4 pieces, so you will have 8 wedges from each plum.
When the cake comes out the oven, arrange the slices of plums in a single layer over the surface of the cake making sure you do not double up in any areas.
Turn the oven temp up to 200C.
To make the meringue ensure your bowl and whisk are spotlessly clean. Beat the egg whites with the salt until soft peak stage, about a minute. Add the caster sugar a tablespoon at a time and then continue to beat for about 5 – 6 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the meringue is glossy. Add the vanilla, vinegar, and cornflour and mix to combine.
Fold the almonds through by hand and then pile this on top of the cake with the plum layer. Return to the oven and bake for 35 minutes and until the meringue has formed a hard crust. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for at least half an hour before removing it from the tin and peeling off the paper. Dust with a little icing sugar and serve when cool.
Sweet is available in all good bookstores and will make the perfect gift for anyone interested in baking.
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