The Nordic midsommar is upon us, a three-day celebration lubricated by aquavit, herring, and cakes. Falling on the Friday closest to the summer solstice, cities become deserted as the hoards return to the bucolic surroundings of the Scandinavian countryside. Its traditions are intensely folkloric; gathering flowers to weave into crowns is a way to harness nature’s magic to ensure good health throughout the year. The sun sets late, as do the revelers.
Sharing food with family and friends is, of course, at its heart. And we're sharing with you the ‘world’s best cake,’ a Norwegian recipe containing the most delicious whipped cream, sponge, pastry cream and meringue – it’s everything you could ever want wrapped up together in one bite. This cake is so seriously good that it is often labelled the national cake of Norway. It is also known as Kvæfjord cake. Kvæfjord is a municipality in Tromsø in northern Norway, an absolutely stunning place with picture-perfect rolling green hills, rocky fells and deep blue fjords .
Recipe taken from ScandiKitchen: Fika & Hygge by Bronte Aurell (Ryland Peters & Small, £16.99) Photography by the amazing Peter Cassidy.
- 150 g butter
- 130 g caster sugar
- 5 egg yolks
- 150 g plain flour or cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar OR extract OR use the seeds from 1 vanilla pod
- 100 ml whole milk
- 150 ml whipping cream
- 1/2 portion of Pastry Cream (you can use ‘Kagecreme’ – powder stirred with milk – ready in 5 mins – or make your own).
- 5 egg whites
- A pinch of cream of tartar
- 250 g caster sugar
- 75 g flaked almonds
a 35 x 25-cm/14 x 93/ 4-inch rectangular cake pan, greased and lined with baking parchment
Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F) Gas 3.
In a stand mixer (or using a hand-held electric whisk) cream together the butter and sugar until pale and light. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating to ensure everything is well incorporated. Sift in the plain or cake flour, baking powder and vanilla and fold in. Lastly, add the whole milk and fold again until fully combined. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and spread out evenly and set aside aside for a moment.
Next make the meringue topping. Using a completely clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Add the sugar very slowly, bit by bit, beating on high speed until stiff peaks form (about 5 minutes). Spread the meringue mixture on top of the cake mixture. Scatter the flaked almonds on top.
Bake in the preheated oven for 35–40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean and the meringue is firm. Leave to cool for a few minutes in the pan then turn out carefully, so the meringue is still on top. Leave to cool completely.
Whip the cream until stiff and fold together with the pastry cream.
To assemble, cut the cake into two halves. On one half, spread the pastry cream mixture, then carefully layer the other half on top. Leave to set in the refrigerator for an hour before serving. The meringue will stay mallowy and the base soft.