Prinsesstårta – this week’s technical challenge

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Inspired by tonight’s great British Bake Off, I decided to make a Swedish Princess Cake and see if I could manage tonight’s technical bake.

I looked up several recipes online and after getting little confused by mentions of ready-made sponges, Marsánkräm and shop-bought green marzipan tops, decided the only way to go was to consult the Swedish baking bible Sju sorters kakor.
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I started by making a fatless sponge (but had to swap potato flour for cornflour) and, while that was baking, started on my crème. As my cookbook didn’t actually tell me how to make the fabled Marsánkräm, I used the BBC food recipe for crème patisserie instead. Crème pat did make me rather nervous as it always seems to cause issues for the Bake Off contestants but it came out great first go (hooray!).

After cooling the cake, whisking the cream and rolling and rolling and rolling out my green coloured marzipan, it was time to construct my cake. I cut the sponge into three, layered the cakes with strawberry jam (my family doesn’t like the traditional raspberry) and cream, with my crème pat between the middle and top layers. I then threw on a lot of  whipped cream, covered in marzipan and added a rose.

As the recipe in Sju sorters kakor didn’t even include jam, and Bake Off‘s had a slightly different construction, I’m not certain I made the definitive version of a Swedish classic. Strawberry jam might be a controversial choice.. I also halved the recipe as otherwise I’d be eating this for weeks!

It’s not the neatest but it tastes good and for a first attempt I am quite impressed (though I say so myself). Next time, I’m keen to have a go at making a full size version now I’ve worked out the basics, and invite some friends for fika.

Mary Berry’s prinsesstårta recipe: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/prinsesstrta_17336

Pastry cream (crème pat): http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/pastry_cream_36417#method

Have you been inspired to bake a prinsesstårta? Or do you have some other favourite Scandi recipes?


How to bake the perfect cinnamon buns

The Guardian has been making Scandi treats this week and searching for the perfect cinnamon bun recipe: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2014/may/22/how-to-bake-perfect-cinnamon-buns

I haven’t tried this version yet – but it is a little different from how I would bake a batch. I have never, ever, had good results with fast action yeast sachets (what am I doing wrong?!) and I would make rather smaller buns – one cake of seven seems a slightly US take on these, they must be huge! Have you tried this ‘perfect’ recipe?

My favourite recipe is the one in Sju Sorters Sommarkakor by Cecilia Vikhblad (the Swedish Mary Berry, she even judges the Swedish version of Bake Off).

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But if I want to read a recipe in English I use the one by the awesome Scandinavian Kitchen:  http://scandikitchen.typepad.com/scandikitchen/2011/05/by-popular-demand-swedish-cinnamon-buns-recipe-kanelbullar.html  I have always had success with these recipes and made lovely soft kanelbullar. Scandinavian Kitchen also sells all the ingredients you could need to create your bullar.

If you are a little too far from London to do your Scandinavian grocery shopping there, do not fear as you can buy/improvise almost everything:

– Ground cardamom for the dough – yes it is a little difficult to find. As well as grinding some cardamom pods with your pestle and mortar/ rolling pin and chopping board/ blender/ hammer and chisel, you can also buy ready ground cardamom at some health food shops or international groceries (I found it on a local market stall which sold vegan products, herbs and spices, and it was only about 65p!).

– Pearl sugar – you could just swap out this (for me, essential) topping for regular sugar (or miss it out altogether I suppose) but I’ve found a handful of crushed up sugar pearls http://www.sainsburys.co.uk/shop/gb/groceries/decorations/sainsburys-cake-decorations–white-sugar-pearls-80g looks the part and they add a satisfying crunch. Apparently jam sugar can also work.

– Fresh yeast – available at most local bakeries, it can also be found in the in-store bakeries at Sainsbury’s and Tesco. As mentioned before, I just can’t get fast-action to work!

Do you have any tips on Scandinavian baking at home? Or tips for the perfect kanelbullar?