This coming Monday is not only May 17th, it's Norway's national day, syttende mai. I'm planning to post a nice little recap of the day, but thought it might be nice to share a quintessential 17. mai dessert recipe with you a head of time. Bløtkake. Norwegian cream cake. Could there be a more perfect spring time dessert? The following was originally published on the old Transplanted Baker on May 18th, 2009.
People put on their red, white, and blue, kids marched in a parade, and afterwards, everyone ate ice cream and hot dogs.
On the surface, syttande mai is virtually indiscernible from The Fourth of July. Patriotic speeches are held (and ignored), bottle rockets are shot off (along with the occasional finger), and everyone’s glad that they finally have a holiday to spend with someone other than their great aunt. If you could toss in the sunburn, too many wine coolers, and eight-year-olds in halter tops, syttande mai would be The Fourth of July.
One very important part of the 17th of May festivities for all Norwegians, are the cakes. As a first timer to the celebrations last year, I made a very un-educated decision and presented a carrot cake to our syttande mai table. Sure the cream cheese frosting was good. Sure the crushed pineapple and chopped walnuts hit the spot. But in the end, I was informed that carrot cake just doesn’t cut it when you’re trying to reflect on the very essence of Norwegian patriotism.
So what cake does make the cut?
Bløtkake is sort of like your nicest pair of jeans. It’s easy to dress up or dress down, it’s simple and straightforward (unless you’re the type who likes to rock stonewashed, rinestoned skinnies), and it makes the boys come running for more.
So how simple and straightforward of a cake is it? You take a cup of eggs, a cup of sugar, a cup of flour, a teaspoon each of vanilla and baking powder, layer in some fresh fruit and whipped cream and you’ve got yourself one hell of a national day cake.
The fruit of preference in our house are strawberries, but bløtkake is great with banana, raspberries, blueberries, marinated apples or pears, apricot jam, or a fancy mix of any of the above. Go ahead, personalize it! But just a little forewarning: it’s such a fresh and light cake that it’s not a difficult task to finish off three slices on your own.
Gratulerer med dagen, Norge!
Recipe taken from Beatrice Ojakangas’, Scandinavian Feasts
*Makes one- 9 inch (23 cm) round cake
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (225 g) sugar
1 cup (140 g) All-Purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 carton of strawberries (or other fruit or jam of you preference)
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 cup (250 ml) heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
a scoop of powdered sugar
*optional teaspoon of Cointreau, or other favorite fruit-flavored liqueur
1. Preheat oven to 350F/175C.
2. Line the bottoms of two- 9 inch (23 cm) round spring-form pans with parchment paper and coat with either butter or cooking spray (or use only one and extend the baking time by 5 minutes)
3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer, until frothy. Raise the speed on your mixer to high, and add the sugar gradually, beating until thick and lemon-colored.
4. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and slowly add the flour to the whipped eggs, mixing until just blended. Blend in the vanilla.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s), spreading it out to the edges.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly golden. Check with a toothpick (the center of the cake should bounce back when touched). Remove the cake from its’ pan and cool on a wire rack.
7. While the cake is cooling, hull and slice half of your strawberries, place them in a small bowl and toss with the teaspoon of sugar (and the Cointreau, if using). Then whip your cream with the vanilla and powdered sugar until stiff and spreadable.
To Assemble the Cake:
Once cooled, take the flat bottom side of one of the cakes and spread the juicy strawberry slices over (if you baked your cake in one pan, slice the cake in half with a serrated knife). Then spread about one-third of the whipped cream over the strawberries, place the other cake half on top, and cover the entire cake with the remaining whipped cream. Decorate the top of the cake any way you please (with the remaining whole strawberries, with slices of strawberries, with candies, little flags, birthday candles)...you get the gist.
*If you have the time, I like to assemble most of the cake the night before- it’s nice to allow the strawberry juices to have time to soak into the cake and for the two layers to have time to meld together. If you do choose to do this, just hold off on covering the top and sides of the cake with the final layer of cream until just before serving.