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Anyone who knows ANYTHING about Swedish cakes knows that there is one cake in particular that Swedes are passionate about. That’s right, people, I am talking Prinsesstårta or Princess Cake. It’s a kind of “one cake to rule them all” situation, really.

The recipe is believed to originate from the 1930s and was originally called Green Cake (well, duh!). It first appeared in the 1930s “Prinsessornas Kokbok” cookbook, which was published by Jenny Åkerström, a teacher of the three daughters of H.R.H. Prince Carl, Duke of Västergötland. However, the girls were  so fond of it that it became known as Princess Cake  - and it has been known and loved by the Swedish people under that moniker ever since. The original cake is green ( have I mentioned this before?) but it also appears in yellow (Prince Cake or Carl Gustav Cake ) and pink (Opera Cake), in which case it also has a layer of raspberry jam.

Traditionalists, myself included, bake Princess Cake without jam and with green marzipan, or Opera Cake with jam and pink marzipan – but nowadays you may find green cake with jam, or pink without – you get the idea. I have also been known to pre-order this cake from a bakery in white (which I secretly think is the prettiest one) but don’t tell anyone!

I make this cake mainly from a recipe I have found on my fave Swedish baker Leila Lindholm‘s blog, although I have adapted it slightly (as one does). Her cake has jam, for example, and mine doesn’t. But I have added the bits I would do for Opera Cake as well, and leave it up to you. Many (better bakers than me) would make their own marzipan and others might use pre-made jam for their opera cake – again, do what suits you best!

What you need:

Cake:
4 eggs
1 ½ dl caster sugar
1 ½ dl all purpose flour
Butter and breadcrumbs for the cake tin

Vanilla Custard:
5 dl milk
1 vanilla pod
1 ½ dl caster sugar
7 egg yolks
1 ½ dl corn starch
50 g soft butter

1 pre-rolled green (or pink) marzipan Princess Cake disc
8 dl Cream (Vispgrädde)

For Opera Cake: 
2 ½ dl fresh (or frozen) raspberries
½ dl caster sugar

 

What you do:

Start with the cake by pre-heating oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Whisk eggs and sugar white and then fold in the flour. Butter a cake tin (24 cm in diameter) and cover with breadcrumbs. Pour the batter in the tin and bake for 10-15 minutes. Let cool.

Move on to the vanilla cream. Scrape out the innards of the vanilla pod and add (together with the pod itself) to the milk in a saucepan. Bring to the boil then take off the heat and remove the pod. Whisk yolks, sugar and starch fluffy, then add the hot milk while stirring gently. Put the mix back into the saucepan and heat until thick while stirring vigorously. When thick enough, take off the heat and add butter. Stir mixture until butter has melted. Place in fridge to cool.

If you are making Opera Cake – prepare raspberries by mixing fresh berries (or thawed berries) with sugar. Put aside.

When cake and vanilla custard has cooled completely it is time to assemble the tårta.

Whip cream stiff ( and I mean really stiff, stop just before it turns into butter) and put to the side. Cut the cake into three even pieces. On the bottom piece, spread half of the vanilla custard (or for Opera Cake –  the raspberry mixture). Add the next piece and spread liberally with the rest of the vanilla custard. Put the last piece on and add the cream. Don’t be afraid to really go for it and shape the cream as a dome. Carefully place the marzipan disc over the cake. Smooth it down the sides and cut off any excess at the bottom.

Dust with icing sugar (through a sieve works best) Place the rose jauntily on the side or smack bang in the middle – it’s a personality thing.

Enjoy!

 

 

Featured image: Jakob Fridholm/imagebank.sweden.se

I’ve met people who don’t like chocolate and I often wonder how they manage to get through life without experiencing the velvety smoothness of a mousse as it slips across your tongue before making its way down your throat.  What could be more delightful?  

This recipe comes from Switzerland and uses a combination of both dark and milk chocolate – a mixture I think always raises the taste sensation when you’re talking about chocolate.  Make sure you use the finest quality chocolate you can find in order to get the peak experience.

 

What you need: 

200 g dark chocolate

200 g milk chocolate

100 ml whole milk

300 ml double cream

3 fresh eggs, separated

1 tbsp sugar

 

What you do:

Break the chocolate into pieces and place into a clean and dry bowl. Add the milk.  Melt the milk and chocolate in a bain marie.  Do not let the water boil.  Whisk the egg yolks to a foam.  When melted remove the milk & chocolate mixture from the bain marie and stir the yolks quickly into the mixture (you do not want scrambled eggs so work fast!). Beat the egg whites and sugar until creamy in texture. Fold into the chocolate mixture. Whip the cream until fairly stiff and gently fold into the chocolate mixture.

Once all ingredients are incorporated either place the mousse in one large bowl or fill smaller cups or glasses. Chill overnight.  Serve with a dollop of whipped cream (which will be even better if you add a touch of vanilla to it) and a scattering of fruit, such as raspberries or sliced strawberries.

Smaklig måltid!

 

 

Judi Lembke

Judi Lembke is an international editor and writer who, when not shackled to her computer, enjoys reading, cooking and sometimes watching embarrassingly bad reality TV.   Judi also works with communications and thinks coming up with clever ideas is about as much fun as one can have without taking off one’s clothes.

With our lives so busy – and getting busier all the time – one-pot cooking is the perfect solution when you want a delicious meal that satisfies your palate and frees up your time. This recipe fits the bill on both counts!

I’m not going to lie to you – this one has a kick so if you like it that way use the full amount of chill (or even add more) and if you’re not so keen on the spiciness, reduce the number of chillies. 

 

What you need: 

2 kg pork roast, cubed and scored

1 whole chicken, cut into serving pieces

4-6 ancho chili pods

3 garlic cloves

1 cinnamon stick

1 tbsp dried oregano

175 ml red wine vinegar

3 tbsp salt

750 ml whole canned tomatoes, with liquid

1-2 cans beer

sliced raw onion rings

 

What you do: 

Remove the seeds, pith and stems from the chillies. Place them in a sauce pan, cover with water and gently simmer over a low heat until tender, about 15 minutes. Once tender, process the chilli, garlic, cinnamon, oregano, vinegar, salt and tomatoes – 2 cups at a time, depending – in a blender or food processor and blitz until smooth. Add one can of beer and blend well.

Score the meat and place in a large pot – cast iron works well with this recipe – and pour over the sauce.  Simmer on a low heat until the meat is cooked through, about 2-3 hours. If the sauce reduces too much during the cooking process, add a bit more beer – although you do want the sauce quite thick at the end.

Serve over rice, garnished with the onion rings.

Smaklig måltid!

 

Judi Lembke

Judi Lembke is an international editor and writer who, when not shackled to her computer, enjoys reading, cooking and sometimes watching embarrassingly bad reality TV.   Judi also works with communications and thinks coming up with clever ideas is about as much fun as one can have without taking off one’s clothes.

This recipe comes from the States and although it’s not always easy to find raspberry vinegar in Stockholm it’s worth making the effort – it really lifts the flavour of the pork!

raspberry-main

Raspberrry and pork – one doesn’t always put the two together, often thinking fruit with pork leans more towards apples or prunes. This recipe will have you rethinking what to marry with pork – and you can even add dried cherries to the sauce, which will add even more delicious complexity to the dish!

 

What you need:

1 kg pork tenderloin

125 ml olive oil

1/2 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp sage

S/P

325 ml beef or veal stock

1 tsp soy sauce

2 tbsp raspberry vinegar

2 tbsp raspberry puré

1 tbsp brandy

2 shallots, minced

clarified butter

flour

 

What you do:

Trim the tenderloins of any fat or silverskin.  Marinate the pork for at least two hours (or even better, overnight) in the olive oil, thyme, sage and a salt % pepper to taste.

Remove the pork from the marinade, lightly dust with flour and sauté in clarified butter, turning frequently until lightly brown all over. Season with salt and pepper and remove to a warm platter. The pork should be slightly pink on the inside.

Degrease the pan and add a bit more clarified butter (and let’s be honest here, you can use regular butter and it won’t make all that much of a difference). Add the shallots and sauté until translucent, making sure not to brown them.  Add stock, raspberry puré, raspberry vinegar and the brandy. Reduce by 1/3 or until sauce is slightly thickened.  Slice pork against the grain, pour over a bit of the sauce, serving the remainder on the side.

This recipe works well with a mixed green salad and, if you need a starch, some fragrant rice.

Smaklig måltid!

 

Let us know how you get on with this recipe in the comments below!

 

Judi Lembke

Judi Lembke is an experienced editor and writer who, when not shackled to her computer, enjoys reading, cooking and sometimes watching embarrassingly bad reality TV.   Judi also works with communications and thinks coming up with clever ideas is about as much fun as one can have without taking off one’s clothes.

 

 

With hunting season drawing to a close here in Sweden, this week’s recipe puts elk on the menu! Although originally from Africa, this recipe is perfect for the Swedish dinner plate. 

elk-main

 

What you need: 

2 Elk tenderloins, about 225-300 g each

2 packets bacon

120 ml button mushrooms, sliced

1 tbsp Grey Poupon mustard

1 large onion, diced

1 large red bell pepper, diced

120 ml brown stock (oxfilé or veal is fine)

45 ml brandy

2 garlic cloves, crushed

fresh thyme, minced – set a few sprigs aside for garnish

ground black pepper

butter

 

What you do: 

Remove any silverskin from the tenderloins and rub the meat with the crushed garlic. Sprinkle with thyme and black pepper, then wrap the bacon slices around the meat (use toothpicks or string to secure).  Melt the butter in a hot frying pan (add a dash of cooking oil to prevent the butter burning) and add the meat, sautéing until the bacon is cooked. Make sure the tenderloins are not cooked past medium rare, as they will get dry.

Remove the meat from the pan and pour off any excess grease. Add the onion and pepper for about 30 seconds, then add the sliced mushrooms and sauté until tender.  Add the brandy and reduce. If you have a gas stove you can flame the brandy but be careful!  It flares. Once the alcohol is cooked out of the brandy (give it the smell test) add the brown gravy and mustard, stirring until the mixture is smooth.

Slice the tenderloins and place on a warmed platter. Pour over a bit of the sauce, with the rest going into a gravy boat. Top the  meat with a few sprigs of thyme. Serve with wild rice, rice pilaf or perhaps some mash along with a green vegetable or salad and you’ve got yourself a hearty, delicious meal!  Smaklig måltid!

 

Judi Lembke

Judi Lembke is an experienced editor and writer who, when not shackled to her computer, enjoys reading, cooking and sometimes watching embarrassingly bad reality TV.   Judi also works with communications and thinks coming up with clever ideas is about as much fun as one can have without taking off one’s clothes.

During our Christmas giveaways we asked our readers to give us their recommendations on their most favourite fika - here are a few of our favourites. Enjoy!

Fika

If you’ve recovered from all that Christmas baking and feel ready to get back into the kitchen we’ve included links to all the fika recipes, so why not take a chance and see if you can compare with the treats from your local konditori.  Click on the links for the recipes!

1. Kanelbullar

Perhaps the classic Swedish fika choice, sticky and full of delicious cinnamon, usually topped with sprinkles of pearl sugar.  Great from the shops but even better if you make your own – the house will be filled with delightful scents!

2. Semlor

This concoction of pastry and cream is usually associated with Lent, Shrove Tuesday in particular. It’s a cardamom-spiced bun that is split and then filled with a milk-and-almond paste, then gobs of whipped cream.

3. Kokostoppar

A blend of butter, eggs, sugar and shredded coconut these little bite-sized treats are sometimes topped with melted chocolate – which I highly recommend.  They’re very sweet so lashings of tea go well with this one.

4. Dajmkladdkaka 

Not for the faint of heart, this is the sort of cake where you don’t ask questions.  Sugar, chocolate, butter, more chocolate, cream … it’s decadent and delicious. And the ‘daim’ is exactly what you think it is: bits of that crunchy toffee sweet lifting this cake a bit above the rest.

5. Sarah Bernhardts

These are my personal favourites and the first fika biscuit I ever tasted upon arriving in Sweden. These were also my second, third, fourth,fifth … well, you get the picture. The slightly chewy base topped with creamy filling all covered with a hard chocolate shell – what’s not to love?  Eat them at your peril, though, as they’re highly addictive.

 

Judi Lembke

Judi Lembke is an experienced  journalist who, when she’s not shackled to her computer, enjoys reading, cooking and sometimes watching embarrassingly bad reality TV.  Judi also works with communications and thinks coming up with clever ideas is about as much fun as one can have without taking off one’s clothes.

Now that the cold has truly arrived I can think of nothing better to warm us up than a delicious and hearty soup.  This one actually comes from Cuba but is perfect for these dark, winter days. 

BlackBean-main

 

Black beans are full of hearty goodness, something we can all probably use as we try to stick with our healthy eating plans for the new year. Enjoy!

 

What you need: 

250 ml dried black beans

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (the hotter the better – and use more if you like it spicy!)

2 tbsp oil

2 onions, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 tsp dried coriander

1/2 tsp dried ginger

pinch of mustard powder

1 tsp tumeric

2 medium-sized potatoes, unpeeled, cut into small cubes

2 medium-sized parsnips, unpeeled, cut into small cubes

2 medium-sized carrots, unpeeled, cut into small cubes

500 ml crushed tomatoes

1  1/4 l vegetable or chicken broth

3 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp soy sauce

lemon slices for garnish

 

What you do: 

Soak beans overnight in a large pot of cold water.

Drain and cover the beans with 5 cups of fresh cold water, simmering for one hour. Add more water as needed to keep the beans covered. Add the red pepper and cook the beans for a further 30 minutes to one hour, until the beans are tender. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan on medium. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the garlic, coriander, ginger, mustard and turmeric and cook briefly, until the aroma of the spices is released. Add the potatoes, parsnips, carrots, tomatoes and broth. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 25-30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Add the beans and heat through, then stir in the lemon juice and soy sauce.  Add more soy and/or Tobasco to taste. Serve in bowls, garnished with lemon slices.

Serves 10-12 people.

Smaklig måltid!

 

Tell us how you get on with this recipe in the comments below!

 

 Judi Lembke

Judi Lembke is an experienced editor and writer who, when not shackled to her computer, enjoys reading, cooking and sometimes watching embarrassingly bad reality TV.   Judi also works with communications and thinks coming up with clever ideas is about as much fun as one can have without taking off one’s clothes.

 

While it does contain cream this recipe is one of the ultimate Swedish comfort foods and it’s not just full of healthy goodness, it’s dead easy to make. You can prepare it up to a day ahead and pop into the oven an hour before you’re ready to serve.  Add a salad and you’re good to go!

Laxpudding-main

 

The thing to remember about this recipe is that all the ingredients are approximate.  You can add or lessen any of the main ingredients (within reason) and you’ll still get great results.

 

What you need:

700 g floury potatoes

4 eggs

350 ml cream (you can replace half of this with milk if you want to cut calories)

1-3 onions, thinly sliced  (if you like onions, load them up; otherwise stick to one)

30 g butter, plus extra for greasing

melted butter to serve on the side (optional)

300 g smoked salmon, cut into chunks

chopped dill

salt & pepper

 

What you do: 

Heat oven to 160°C

Peel (or leave unpeeled for extra health benefits) and boil potatoes until just tender, about 6-8 minutes.  Strain and run under cold water, then pat dry.  While potatoes are boiling grease your casserole dish, cut up the salmon and slice the onions.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, cream, salt and pepper, then slice the potatoes. I prefer them thinly sliced but some prefer a thicker cut. Because this recipe is so flexible it’s really down to a matter of taste, so go with your instincts.

Once the dish is greased start layering your ingredients. First a layer of potato slices, then some onion, and finally a layer of salmon. Keep layering until you fill the dish, making sure your final layer is potato.  Pour over the cream/egg mixture, top with some chopped dill and you’re done. Some people add cheese on top, usually something like Västerbotten (cheddar would be a good replacement for that) but I prefer it without.

Pop into the oven and bake until the top is golden and slightly crunchy, about 45-50 minutes. The custard should be set, meaning a knife should come out clean. Cool slightly before serving.  You can also set out bowls of melted butter to pour over portions for those of your guests who want to amp up the calorie count. Smaklig måltid!

 

Try the recipe and let us know what you think in the comments below or on the forums!

 

 Judi Lembke

Judi Lembke is an experienced editor and writer who, when not shackled to her computer, enjoys reading, cooking and sometimes watching embarrassingly bad reality TV.   Judi also works with communications and thinks coming up with clever ideas is about as much fun as one can have without taking off one’s clothes.

So, it’s almost Christmas and your boss/neighbour/Swedish friend has requested your attendance at a function beginning with glögg-something. What to expect? What to bring? The questions are a-massing… 

glogg-gingerbread

December is drawing nigh, it’s peak glögg-glugging time and chances are that you’ve been invited to a glöggfika, or perhaps you want to hold your own only… you have no idea what to expect – or what to serve.  At YLC we take our responsibility to EDUCATE seriously* and therefore decided it would be a good idea to explain the whole glögg-conundrum – oh, and give you some great recipes too.

A glöggfika, is fika – where glögg (the Swedish mulled wine with or without alcohol) is served alongside a variety of Christmasy sweet treats. Instead of kanelbullar – you have Lussebullar. Instead of kakor – you have pepparkakor. And instead of sockerkaka – you have kanel/saffran/mjuk pepparkaka. Same same, in other words, but different.

You may also have been invited to a julfika or adventsfika. That’s basically the same thing. But it might not feature glögg. On the other hand, it might. Confused? Well, you should be.

This would not be the right time to make you aware that there is a difference between glöggfika(1) and a glöggmingel (2)? Or even glöggfest (3), or indeed julfest (4)? (A quick explanation would be: (1) unlikely to involve alcohol, (2) could involve alcohol, (3) likely to involve alcohol and (4) better be involving alcohol) No, jokes aside – let’s stick to the basics and discuss the differences somewhere else.

Instead, in the spirit of Christmas, we thought we’d share some of our fave Swedish glöggfika/julfika recipes. To glögg or not to glögg we’re leaving up to you.

* we do not take our responsibility to educate seriously. To inform and entertain however – we’re big on those.

 

Christmas Sponge Cake x3

 

Basic cake recipe:

What you need:

2.5 dl filmjölk (buttermilk)

1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

175 g soft butter

2dl sugar

2 eggs

½ teaspoon of salt

2 teaspoon of vanilla sugar (vaniljsocker)

4 1/2 dl all purpose flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

 

What you do:

Mix together the filmjölk and the bicarb – put aside.

Cream butter and sugar unitl light and fluffy, add eggs, one at a time.

Add vanilla sugar, salt and the baking powder to the filmjölk mix and stir well. Combine the filmjölk mix and the egg mix.

Add flour and mix until batter is smooth.

Butter a cake tin and coat with breadcrumbs, spoon mixture in evenly and bake at 175 degrees Celsius for 45 min to an hour.

For a cinnamon cake: Mix together sugar (about a dl) and cinnamon (5 tablespoons) and alternate sugar/cinnamon mix with cake mix while spooning into tin.

For a saffron cake: Simply add two bags of saffron ( 2x 0.5 g bags) to mix before the flour is added.

For soft gingerbread cake: Add 0.5 dl lingonberry jam, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ginger, ½ teaspoon ground cloves to the mixture before adding the flour.

The cake recipes originate with my sister who wants me to say that she will not be held responsible for my translation to English and that there is no chance that I will give out her number in case the cakes don’t come out right.*

 

*I so would.

 

Rebecca Martin

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It’s the time of year to get baking! And what Christmas of glögg-party would be complete without these babies? At YLC we have searched far and wide for the best recipe EVER – just for YOU!

pepparkakor-gingerbread

Pepparkakor – also known as ginger snaps or ginger thins or ginger biscuits – have a rather long and fabulous history, dating back at least to 14th century Germany, where artisans would fashion meticulous wooden moulds in the shape of coats of arms, kings, knights, religious symbols, portraits and various other important shapes. Nuns baked them to aid digestion and improve overall general constitution and this appears to be how they travelled north.

In around 1500 AD the Swedish-Norwegian-Danish King Hans was prescribed ginger thins by his doctor. King Hans was, to put it mildly, somewhat temperamental and it was believed that the cookies would put him in a rather better humour, thus making the overall mood at court more palatable for the jesters and other assorted hangers on. No reports on whether or not the prescription was successful for Hans but the happiness rumour surrounding ginger thins remains to this day.

In 16th century Sweden ginger thins were sold in monastery pharmacies, bakeries, and markets, as well as imported primarily from Nuremburg, which was the ginger thin capital of Europe at that time.

Ginger thins were always eaten year round; it was only in the 19th century that they became associated with Christmas, probably due to the increasing availability of flour and sugar to the general public, which spurred on enormous amounts of baking in the run-up to Christmas.  Even today you can buy and eat pepparkakor at any time of year but baking them yourself – and filling the house with those wonderful scents – is still, to many people, a tradition best saved for the holiday season.  So let’s get baking.

 

Get prepared: 

The first thing you need is your cookie cutters, the most traditional of which is the heart (monks were among the first to use the heart as a symbol of love and this translated into their ginger thin moulds).  You can buy these pretty much anywhere, even at your local ICA or Konsum, but if you want some that are built to last NK department store has some very nice and very pricey moulds that are sturdy and will not grow those nasty rust stains some of your cheaper models tend to do.

Once you’ve got your moulds, gather up your ingredients. This recipe comes from a very old Swedish cookbook, which should give you an authentic flavour.

 

What you need:

2/3 cup brown or white sugar (I recommend brown)

2/3 cup molasses

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground cloves

¾ tablespoon baking soda

2/3 cup butter – room temperature

1 egg – room temperature

5 cups flour

optional: grated lemon rind for topping

 

What you do:

Heat the sugar, molasses and spices to boiling point. Add baking soda and pour the mixture over the butter in a bowl.  Mix until the butter is fully melted and incorporated. Add egg and flour, mixing quickly and thoroughly so you don’t get scrambled eggs.

Knead the dough until smooth then chill for at least 30 minutes.  Once chilled roll out as thin as you possibly can without the dough breaking (the thinner the better in order to get that ‘snap’). Grab your moulds and cut out cookies, placing on a greased or lined baking sheet.  Bake at about 165° C for 8-10 minutes.  

Remove from oven, cool on a rack and you’re good to go!

Some are keen to top their ginger thins with icing or various decorations – at one point grated lemon rind was used as a topping – but I prefer to keep it simple, where you get all the flavour you need from the biscuit. Save your toppings and decorations for the gingerbread house you’re going to make right after these cookies are done and dusted.

Note: If you want to make these for the Christmas tree poke a hole at the top of each shape before baking and then thread with ribbon once they’re baked and cooled.

 

God Jul and enjoy!

 

Judi Lembke

Judi Lembke is an experienced  journalist who goes through life with a serene if slightly deranged smile on her face. When she’s not shackled to her computer, she enjoys reading, cooking and sometimes watching embarrassingly bad reality TV.  (But don’t tell anyone. She prefers to be seen as far too highbrow for that sort of thing.)  Judi also works with communications and thinks coming up with clever ideas is about as much fun as one can have without taking of one’s clothes.

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