Korena of Korena in the Kitchen was our May Daring Bakers’ host and she delighted us with this beautiful Swedish Prinsesstårta, or princess cake. It is made up of layers of light sponge cake, raspberry jam, and vanilla custard/pastry cream, topped with a mound of fluffy whipped cream, covered in green marzipan, and garnished with a marzipan rose. Despite all the whipped cream and custard, the whole thing is very light and not too sweet. While it may look daunting at first sight with the easily-squished whipped cream dome and delicate-looking marzipan coat, it is not as difficult and fiddly to assemble as it looks.

A little research revealed that the original recipe was created in the 1930s by a Swedish home economics teacher named Jenny Åkerström, who taught the three Swedish princesses of the time. She published a series of four cookbooks called “The Princess Cookbooks” and in one of the editions, there was a recipe for Grön Tårta/green cake. One story is that this later became known as prinsesstårta/princess cake because the three princesses are said to have loved it so much. Another story is that Ms. Åkerström actually created three very elaborate “princess cake” recipes – a different one for each princess – and that the current version is a simplified combination of all three.

TRADITIONAL SWEDISH PRINSESSTARTA

Ingredients:

For the Vanilla Custard

1 cup (240ml) heavy cream, divided

4 egg yolks from large eggs

2 tablespoons (30 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) cornstarch

2 tablespoons (30 ml) (30 gm) (1 oz) granulated white sugar

1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (or 2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract)

Method:

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together cornstarch, sugar, and egg yolks. Gradually whisk in ½ cup heavy cream until smooth.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the remaining heavy cream and the scraped vanilla bean.

  • Bring the mixture just to the boiling point. Remove the vanilla bean pod. Slowly whisk the hot cream into the egg mixture.
  • Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly.

  • The mixture must hit a boil for the cornstarch to properly thicken the custard, and also to cook out any starchy taste.
  • If it starts to look curdled or lumpy, remove it from the heat and whisk vigorously until smooth, then return to the heat.

  • As soon as it comes to a boil, remove it from the heat. Add vanilla extract. Pour the custard into a clean bowl.
  • Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until completely cold.

For the Sponge Cake

Fine dry breadcrumbs, for the pan

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) granulated white sugar

½ cup (120 ml) (70 gm) (2½ oz) all-purpose (plain) flour

½ cup (120 ml) (65 gm) (2¼ oz) potato starch (or cornstarch)

1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with a rack in the lower third of the oven.
  • Butter a 9-inch/23 cm round springform pan, line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper and butter the paper.
  • Dust the buttered pan with enough breadcrumbs to coat the bottom and sides, just like flouring a cake pan. Set aside.

  • Place the eggs and granulated white sugar in a mixing bowl and beat on medium-high speed with an electric mixer.
  • The eggs should be tripled in volume and very light coloured and fluffy, about 5 minutes but do not overbeat the eggs.
  • Sift the all-purpose flour, potato starch, baking powder, and salt into a bowl, then sift flour mixture over the whipped eggs.

  • With a balloon whisk, fold the flour into the eggs until blended, keeping as much air in the batter as possible.
  • Use gentle yet confident strokes, bringing batter from the bottom of the bowl to the top. The batter will be thick and smooth.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan, spread it out evenly, and bake in the lower third of the preheated oven for about 40 minutes.

  • The top wull turn golden brown and springy to the touch. Let the cake cool in the pan for a few minutes.
  • Run a knife around the edge and remove the sides of the springform pan. Don’t worry if it sinks a bit in the middle.
  • Invert the cake onto a cooling rack and peel off the parchment paper. Allow it to cool completely before assembling.

Prinsesstårta Assembly

2 cups (480 ml) heavy cream, chilled

1 tablespoon granulated white sugar, to taste

Sponge Cake, cooled

Vanilla Custard, chilled

Marzipan Covering and Rose

1/3 cup (80 ml) seedless raspberry jam

Icing sugar, for rolling and dusting

Method:

  • In a large bowl, whip heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add sugar to taste and continue whipping the cream until stiff.
  • You want it to be sturdy enough to provide structure to the cake, but not over-whipped enough to make butter.
  • Set the whipped cream aside. With a long serrated knife, slice the sponge cake into three even layers.

  • This cake is very delicate, so do this as carefully as possible. Use a gentle sawing motion to move the knife through the cake.
  • Use a spatula to help you lift off each layer after you cut it. Set aside the middle layer; this will become the top layer.
  • Place one of remaining layers on a cake board or serving platter and spread it evenly with the raspberry jam.

  • Spread half the chilled custard over the jam in an even layer. Leave enough room around the edges so that it doesn’t spill.
  • Top custard with another layer of cake. Spread remaining custard evenly over it, again leaving some room around the edges.
  • Reserve ½ cup (120 ml) of the stiffly whipped cream. Pile the rest into a mound on top of the custard.

  • Spread into a thick layer with an off-set spatula, then hold the spatula at an angle to shape the whipped cream.
  • It should form a dome, pile the cream up in the middle of the cake as much as possible. Place the final layer of sponge cake.
  • Do not press on the top of the cake; instead, gently tuck the edges of the cake layer into the whipped cream.

  • Gently spread the reserved ½ cup (120 ml) of whipped cream over the entire cake to fill in any cracks and even out the surface.
  • If necessary, refrigerate the cake to firm it up before continuing. Dust your work surface with icing sugar.
  • Press the marzipan into a 6-inch (15 cm) disc (knead it a bit to warm it up first). Coat both sides with icing sugar.

  • Roll it out into a 14” (35½ cm) diameter circle less than 1/8” (3 mm) thick. Use plenty of icing sugar to prevent it from sticking.
  • Alternatively, you can roll the marzipan out between two wide sheets of parchment paper (still use plenty of icing sugar).
  • Use the rolling pin to drape the rolled-out marzipan sheet over the cake and smooth it around the cake gently with your hands.

  • Trim the excess marzipan from the bottom of the cake with a paring knife or spatula blade.
  • If desired, cut leaves out of the scraps of green marzipan; use a paring knife to score vein-like lines.
  • Dust the cake with icing sugar, then place the marzipan rose and leaves in the middle of the cake.

  • To serve, cut the cake into wedges with a sharp knife. Run under hot water and wipe clean after every cut for neater slices.
  • The cake can be served immediately but will be easier to slice after chilling in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
  • The finished cake should be refrigerated until serving, and any leftovers refrigerated as well. Makes one 9-inch cake.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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