In 1879, a young man named John Edmonds set foot on the Northern Island Shores of New Zealand. At just 20 years of age, he made the long voyage to a land of promise, leaving behind the gloomy London skies for a new life with his young wife, Jane. Together, they opened a general grocery store and settled into an antipodean lifestyle. He began making his own baking powder to sell in store, and his first batch of 200 tins went on sale that same year.
In 1908, Thomas Edmonds took over his father’s company, offering a gift to loyal patrons with thanks for ongoing custom. It was a 50 page booklet of economical, everyday recipes and cooking hints. Every couple who announced their engagement in the newspaper received a free copy. For the already espoused, housewives could apply in writing to receive complimentary issue.
In 1955 the first Deluxe Edition of the cookbook went on sale. Currently 3.5 million copies of the Deluxe Edition have been printed over the past 50 years. Most New Zealand homes have more than one version.
I have but one.
It’s missing it’s cover and several pages. The remaining pages are well thumbed, dog eared and spattered. The baking section, in particular, has seen many a kitchen. The imperial measurements have hand written metric conversions noted by previous owners. I assume these notations show his or her favourites. One of which, is this, a humble slice.
The very first bite transports me to my childhood… jam slice and cold milk under the mulberry tree.
Old-Fashioned Louise Slice
125 grams butter, softened
¾ cup castor sugar
2 large eggs, separated
1 ¾ cups plain flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ cup raspberry jam
2 egg whites
¼ cup castor sugar
1 ¼ cups coconut
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
Preheat oven to 150c.
Grease and line a 30 cm x 20 cm baking tin.
Cream the butter and sugar in a medium bowl until light and fluffy.
Beat in egg yolks one at a time.
Sift the flour and baking powder together and fold through the mixture
Press an even layer into the tin.
Top with a layer of jam.
Whisk egg whites until stiff and add sugar gradually, a little at a time, continuously whisking.
Fold in coconut and vanilla essence.
Layer topping over the jam and sprinkle with additional coconut, if desired.
Bake for 30 – 35 minutes and let cool in tin.
Serve with a milk moustache whilst sitting under a mulberry tree.
Disclaimer: I am not a fan of supermarket desiccated coconut, so I make my own dehydrated flakes, which is why, in my image, my topping is… well… rustic. If you use smaller flakes or packet coconut, your topping will be a lot more smooth – so be prepared.