Around the World in 12 Plates: Sweden
I must confess: I ate a Princess Cake for the first time at IKEA. In the winter of 2012, I had been living in Toronto for a few months when Adam moved from Newfoundland to join me. It was the first time we were going to live together and I was SO excited to take him to IKEA to pick out some items for our nest (it’s a wonderland to me). But someone got the hiccups and was being a bit of a sook as we wandered through the stylishly decorated kitchens full of purchasable gadgets. In an attempt to salvage what could be a defining moment in our relationship (it felt like it at the time), I bought a Princess Cake. We ate the small cake together in silence, the hiccups subsided and our trip to the Swedish stockpile of home decor treasures was saved. I feel I owe something to this little marzipan-covered marvel, so it was meant to be for this month’s Around the World in 12 Plates.
Swedish Princess Cake
Known to the Swedes as prinsesstårta, this cake has many layers of filling and of history. After my first taste of the Princess Cake at IKEA I wondered how Swedish this cake was, and turns out it’s very loyal. It first appeared in the 1948 edition of the cookbook entitled Prinsessornas Kokbok or “The Princess Cookbook” by Jenny Åkerström. She was the cooking instructor to the royal family of Sweden and taught the three princesses; Margaretha, Märtha and Astrid. The Swedish princesses were seen as mid-century role models, and gave instruction on everything from child care to cooking, highlighting the important and necessary job of women at home. These were no Disney-style princesses — it was more than just a lesson on home economics, it was empowering.
This particular recipe is actually a combination of the three favourite cakes of the princesses! Åkerström decided to create this recipe and publish it as a tribute to them. Once it was published it became the iconic cake it is today, and so symbolic even IKEA sells it. It is not overly hard to make, but it takes time to prepare as there are many layers. First comes the sponge cake which is cut into three layers, which you have to let cool. The bottom layer of filling is typically raspberry jam, but I filled it with strawberry because I like it better. The next layer is a delicious vanilla pastry cream which I was pretty proud I didn’t screw up! It was the first time I made pastry cream, and after seeing countless MasterChef contestants botch it I was skeptical. More time elapses as you wait for this to cool. The top layer, which makes the dome shape the cake is famous for is filled with whipped cream. The outer layer is marzipan rolled out and dyed green with food colouring.
A recipe fit for a princess
I used a combination of two recipes because I found it hard to find the true authentic one. The first is Marcus Samuelsson’s Classic Swedish Princess Cake which was good, but the instructions were lacking. On the blog Completely Delicious, the instructions for Princess Cake were much more helpful so I went off this one as well! Overall I was very happy with how the cake turned out! While the sponge cake was a denser than I hoped for, the pastry cream was delicious and the jam helped add a touch of savoury to this overtly sweet cake.
Around the World in 12 Plates Sweden
Here are the other lovely challengers who stepped up to the plate for Sweden!