Swe-Dishes: SwedishFood.com’s Princess Cake RecipeFebruary 15, 2019
What are we referring to, you might ask?
The Princess Cake. The airy, marzipan-covered cake that takes incredible amounts of effort to make.
There’s the sponge cake, the vanilla custard, the assembling, the dying of the marzipan, the rolling of the marzipan, the covering of the cake with said marzipan, the decorations. Just writing about it has us feeling exhausted.
But then, when all is said and done, 25 steps later, the Princess Cake is a standout, both in look and taste.
Yes. OK, maybe.
Here’s John Duxbury of SwedishFood.com’s recipe for the classic green confection.
Stage 1: bake a fatless sponge cake
- Swedes normally bake the sponge in one tin and then cut it into three layers. This means that the cake needs baking for longer than is normal in the U.K. or the States.
- Traditionally, Swedes grease the inside of baking tins (pans) with butter and then sprinkle over some fine dried breadcrumbs, but you can line the tin with greaseproof paper or use cake release spray if you prefer.
- In Sweden it is normal to use potato flour (starch) in a fatless sponge as it makes it light and airy. You can buy potato flour (starch) at good health food shops or online, but if you can’t find any you can use plain (cake) flour instead.
- It is important to sieve the flours at least twice to get lots of air into the sponge. First sieve the flours into a bowl to mix them (step 2) and then again into the egg mixture (step 4).
- Butter and breadcrumbs
- 7 tbsp plain (cake) flour
- 7 tbsp potato starch
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 4 eggs, at room temperature
- ¾ cup caster (superfine) sugar
- Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Grease a deep 8” diameter loose-bottomed or springform cake pan and sprinkle with breadcrumbs (or grease and line with parchment paper).
- Sift the flours and baking powder into a small bowl and mix thoroughly.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs together until they are nice and frothy, gradually adding the sugar. Continue whisking on high speed until the whisk leaves a thick trail on the surface when lifted. This usually takes about 10 minutes with an electric whisk. (It is important that this step is not rushed because otherwise the mixture will not be strong enough to support all the air, and the sponge will end up rubbery.)
- Sift the flours in to the mixture and then fold in using a large metal spoon (always metal, never wooden). Ensure that the flour is fully incorporated, but don’t overmix because you will knock too much air out of the mixture.
- Gently pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for about 40 minutes, until the sponge has just started to shrink away from the side of the tin and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. (Do not open the oven door to check on progress until you think the cake is cooked because it is likely to collapse if it is not set.)
- Remove the cake from the oven, leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Stage 2: make the vanilla custard
- Make the vanilla custard while the cake is baking, as it needs to be cold before the cake can be assembled.
- Swedes normally use vanilla sugar to flavor the custard, but if you can’t find any, use ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract.
- ½ cup whipping cream
- ½ cup whole milk
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 ½ tbsp potato starch
- 1 tbsp caster sugar (2 tbsp if using vanilla extract)
- 1 tbsp vanilla sugar (or ½ tsp vanilla extract)
- Mix all the ingredients except the vanilla sugar or extract (use 2 tbsp of caster sugar if using vanilla extract) in a small saucepan. Heat gently while stirring constantly until the mixture is very thick, but don’t let it boil.
- Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
- When cold, stir in the vanilla sugar or vanilla extract.
Stage 3: assemble the cake
- Use a good quality raspberry jam for the filling, preferably firmly set to prevent the base becoming soggy.
- The marzipan covering should be added no more than a couple of hours before serving, but the rest of the cake can be prepared a day in advance if preferred.
- 7 tbsp raspberry jam
- 2 cups whipping cream
- Cut the cake horizontally into three layers, and place one on a serving plate.
- Spread the raspberry jam over the bottom layer, leaving a border of 1 cm or so all the way round, so that the jam can’t discolor the marzipan cover.
- Add a second layer of sponge and spread the vanilla custard over it, but again leave a 1 cm or so border all the way around.
- Whip the cream until it is stiff and then spread about a third of the whipped cream on top of the custard, piling it up a bit more in the center, leaving a border of at least 1-2 cm around the edge.
- Add the final layer of sponge and then cover the top and sides of the cake with the remaining cream, creating a domed effect on the top. Set aside in a fridge while you prepare the marzipan cover.
Stage 4: cover the cake with marzipan
- To produce an authentic looking cake, use “bright green” food coloring.
- Coloring the marzipan to get the bright shade of green typically used in Sweden is difficult, so consider using pink coloring instead as it is easier to get a nice shade of pink. Pink princess cakes also are sold in Sweden.
- You will end up with a lot of leftover marzipan, which I suggest you use to make some marzipan fruits, some punschrullar (arrack rolls) or, if you add a bit more food coloring, marzipan “Neapolitans.”
- If using gel food coloring, knead the tube before using to ensure the dye is evenly mixed.
- Only add a very small amount of food coloring at a time, because if you add too much you will end up with a horrid deep color.
- Don’t be frightened of making a marzipan rose; it is surprisingly easy!
- 1 lb. white marzipan
- Bright green food coloring
- 1 oz. dark chocolate (optional)
- Pink or red food coloring
- Powdered sugar for dusting
- Cut off a 300 g (12 oz) piece of marzipan and add a tiny amount of bright green food (or pink). Knead the marzipan until you have an even shade. If necessary, add some more coloring, but take care to avoid ending up with an unattractive color.
- Sprinkle some powdered sugar onto your work surface and dust your rolling pin with it. Roll out the green (or pink) marzipan to create a circle at least 13″ in diameter. Keep sliding the marzipan over the work surface and re-dust the work surface after every 2 or 3 rolls to prevent the marzipan sticking to the work surface.
- Carefully lift the marzipan over the cake, use your hands to smooth it round the side of the cake and then trim any excess so that the base is neat.
Stage 5: decorate!
- The simplest way of decorating the top of the cake is with nothing more than a light sprinkling of powdered sugar.
- For a special occasion, some marzipan leaves and a rose or two can be added.
- Experienced cake decorators might also like to add some chocolate swirls and a greeting, but this should be done before dusting with icing sugar or adding leaves and a rose.
Optional chocolate work
Gently melt the chocolate in a microwave or in a bowl over simmering water. Leave to cool for about half an hour until it is quite thick. Spoon the melted chocolate into a small piping bag (or use an icing bag with a No. 2 Writer nozzle). Snip the end off the paper icing bag, and pipe swirls round the edge of the cake.
Add an appropriate greeting across the top of the cake, taking care to leave room to add leaves and a rose.
Adding leaves and a rose
- Divide the remaining marzipan into two pieces. Color one light pink and the other “leaf green.”
- Roll out the leaf green marzipan until it is quite thin and then cut out 3 or 4 leaf shapes.
- Cut off 15 g (½ oz) of pink marzipan and roll it out into a 3″ sausage. Cut this into 12 pieces.
- Using your fingers, press each piece into the shape of a thin petal. This is easier to do if you lightly dust your fingers in powdered sugar periodically, as this helps to prevent the marzipan sticking to your fingers. Don’t worry too much about the shape of each petal, but try to get the top edge a bit thinner than the bottom edge.
- Roll the first petal up to form a bud and wrap the remaining petals around the bud to make a rose. Bend and curl the edges of the outer petals outwards to make the rose look more realistic.
- Dust the top of the cake lightly with icing sugar then cut a slit in the top of the cake with a small palette knife and insert the leaves and the rose. Use a little whipped cream on the underside of each rose leaf to help fix it in place. (Usually the rose is placed in the center of the cake, but it can also look good positioned off-center.)
- Lightly dust the top of the cake again with powdered sugar.
After slaving away at one of Sweden’s trickiest cakes to master, it’s finally time to enjoy!
Attempting a princess cake? We want to see a picture! Send them to us at email@example.com for a chance to be featured on our page.
John Duxbury enjoys cooking Swedish food and went to the trouble of learning Swedish so he could read Swedish cookbooks. The love affair with Swedish food started as a result of numerous visits to Sweden when he was working with Swedish students. When he retired from teaching he decided to set up http://www.swedishfood.com so other people with an interest in Swedish cooking could benefit from his work.