Thursday, June 20, 2013

Daring Bakers - Swedish Prinsesstarta

Korena of Korena in the Kitchen was our May Daring Bakers' host and she delighted us with this beautiful Swedish Prinsesstarta!  Though I haven't been able to participate in a Daring Bakers challenge in a while, when I saw the June challenge, Swedish Princesstarta, I knew this challenge would have to be met.  It just so happens that my little princess, a.k.a the clever girl, turned 5 in early June I had a suspicion that she would really enjoy a princess cake.  So, I didn't do this challenge on time (supposed to be posted on May 27), but the challenge was met anyway!

I did offer the clever girl another birthday treat that I thought she would enjoy, but let's be honest, when she heard the words "princess" and "cake" together, nothing else would do!  And I am so glad this is what she chose because it was DELICIOUS.

Do you see the fairy wings in back?  She is a fairy princess!

If you have never heard of Swedish Prinsesstarta before (I hadn't either), I have a history lesson for you!  The original recipe was created in the 1930s by a Swedish home economics teacher who taught the three Swedish pricnesses of that time.  She published a series of cookbooks called "The Princess Cookbooks" and in one of those editions was a recipe for "Gron Tarta" (green cake).  One of the stories about princess cake is that this cake became known as "princess cake" because the three princesses loved it so much.  Another version is that the teacher actually created three very elaborate "princess cake" recipes, a different one for each princess, and that the current version is a simplified version of all three.  The princess cake is supposed to be green, though no one seems to know why.  Today, princess cake is popular in Finland and in Sweden, in fact the third week of September is officially Princesstarta Week!  For every prinsesstarta purchased that week, money is donated to Crown Princess Victoria's Fund, which benefits chronically ill and disabled children in Sweden.  Imagine!  An entire week devoted to celebrating a cake!  And all for a good cause!  Count me in!

Whatever the origins, this home economics teacher was on to something amazing.  The cake, though it does take some work to assemble, isn't TERRIBLY difficult.  The most difficult part is slicing the actual sponge cake into layers.  But we'll get to that in a moment.

Now, I have to admit that my princess cake does not look as domed as they are supposed to look.  But, I did the best I could in the midst of taking care of my infant, my in-laws arrival, rescuing Mr. Clever Mom, my sister and my father from the Target when the car battery died, and preparing dinner for 9 people!  Yes, I could have done some better time management and maybe gotten a few more things done in advance, but lately time management planning has not been my forte and I am lucky to get anything accomplished at all!  So, I think this princess cake is a success.  And considering the utter bliss of the clever girl and my family, it was definitely a success!

In general, here are the many layers of a Swedish Prinsesstarta.  The marzipan is supposed to be green, but I made mine pink, for the clever girl.

Swedish Prinsesstarta
Vanilla Custard
1 cup heavy cream, divided
4 large egg yolks
2 TB cornstarch
2 TB white sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)

In a medium bowl, whisk the cornstarch, sugar and egg yolks together.  Gradually whisk in 1/2 cup heavy cream until smooth.  Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy cream and the scraped vanilla bean just to the boiling point.  Remove the vanilla bean pod, leaving behind the seeds.  Slowly whisk the hot cream into the bowl with the egg mixture to temper the eggs.  Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until it becomes thick like pudding and just comes to a boil.  The mixture must reach the boiling point in order for the cornstarch to properly thicken the custard, and in order to cook out any starch taste.  If the mixture starts to look lumpy or curdled, remove it from the heat and whisk vigorously until smooth., then return it to the heat.  As soon as it comes to a boil, remove from the heat.  If you are using vanilla extract instead of a vanilla bean, add it now.  Pour the custard into a clean bowl and press plastic wrap onto the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming.  Refrigerate until completely cold.  Can be prepared a day in advance.

Sponge Cake
Fine breadcrumbs for the pan (such as crushed panko)
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350F and move rack to the lower third of the oven.  Butter a 9-inch round springform pan, line the bottom with a circle of parchment, and butter the parchment.  Dust the pan with breadcrumbs.  Set aside.

Place eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl fitted with a whisk attachment and beat at medium-high speed until the eggs are tripled in volume and very light colored. and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  The mixture should fall from the beaters in thick ribbons.  Don't overbeat the eggs - once they fall in ribbons and stop growing in volume, stop.

Sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt into a bowl, then sift this mixture over the whipped eggs.  With a balloon whisk, fold the flour into the eggs until blended, keeping as much air in the batter as possible.  Use large, gentle strokes, bringing batter from the bottom of the bowl to the top.  Once mixed, the batter will be smooth and quite thick.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out evenly.  Bake in the lower third of the oven for about 40 minutes or until golden brown on top, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted in the center come out with a few moist crumbs.  NOTE:  This took only 25 minutes in my oven!

Let the cake cool in the pan for a few minutes and then run a knife around the edge and remove the sides of the springform pan.  Don't worry if it sinks a bit in the center.  Invert the cake onto a cooling rack and peel off the parchment paper.  Allow to cool completely.  This cake can be made a day in advance and stored, wrapped thoroughly in plastic wrap, at a cool room temperature.

Marzipan Covering and Rose
10 oz. marzipan
food coloring
powdered sugar

Set aside a small amount of plain marzipan (about a walnut sized piece) to make a rose for decoration.  Knead the remaining marzipan on a surface dusted with powdered sugar until it is soft and smooth.  Add a small amount of food coloring (I used pink but the proper color is green) and knead it into the marzipan to get the desired shade.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to cover the cake (or store as directed on marzipan package).

For the rose, tint the remaining small piece of marzipan with a tiny bit of food coloring of your choice.  Dust your work surface with powdered sugar and roll the marzipan into a log.  With a rolling pin, roll the log into a long ribbon, about 1 inch wide and 1/8 inch thick.  Press one long edge of the ribbon with your fingertips to thin it out slightly, this will be the rose petal edges.  Begin rolling up the ribbon, leaving the thin edge loose to form the petals.  Start the roll tightly, then loosen up as you pinch and gather the marzipan to create creases and ruffles.  Gently flare out the petals of the rose with your fingertips.  When the rose is the size you like, cut off any remaining marzipan.  Pinch off any excess marzipan from the bottom of the rose and set it aside to dry slightly.

If you made your first batch of marzipan green, pinch off a small bit and add more green food coloring to create leaves.  If you made a yellow rose, you can add a bit of green to the bits of rose you pinched off at the end, and make these bits into leaves.

Stabilized Whipped Cream
The prinsesstarta recipe does not actually call for stabalized whipped cream but I thought it would be a good idea considering how this whipped cream would be piled up on the cake and then a layer of cake would be plopped on top.

2 cups heavy cream, chilled
white sugar, to taste (scant 1 TB is plenty)
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
Ice water

Put about 2 TB ice water in a small bowl and sprinkle the unflavored gelatin over the top.  Let it sit for at least 5 minutes, until you have a bowl of gelatin gel.  Do not stir.  The gelatin will get somewhat firm and squishy.  Zap this in the microwave for about 5 seconds to liquify it and then stir it a tiny bit with your finger to cool it down.

Whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form.  Add sugar to taste (remember the cake in general is sweet so you don't need much sugar at all in this part).  Mix in the sugar for just a second (just so it is mixed in) and then pour in the melted gelatin and continue mixing until the cream is stiff.  The cream needs to be sturdy enough to provide structure to the cake, but not over-whipped enough to make butter.  Set aside.

Cake Construction
With a long serrated knife, slice the sponge cake into three even layers.  This is the hardest part of this recipe.  The cake is very delicate, so you need to do this very carefully.  Use a gentle sawing motion when cutting the cake.  Use a spatula to help remove the layers after you cut them.  The middle layer will become the top layer of the cake, as it is the most flexible and thus easier to bend over the dome of the whipped cream.

Place one layer of the cake on a cake board or serving platter and spread it evenly with raspberry jam.  I also spread fresh raspberries over the jam.  Spread or pipe half of the chilled custard over the jam in an even layer.  Leave about 1/2 inch around the edge of the custard so it doesn't spill over the sides of the cake.

Top the custard with another layer of cake, and spread the remaining custard over the top, again leaving about 1/2 inch edge.

Set aside about 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of the stabilized whipped cream.  Pile the rest of it in a mount on top of the custard.  Spread it into a thick layer with a thin off-set spatula, then hold the spatula at an angle and shape the whipped cream into a dome.  Pile it up in the middle of the cake as much as possible.

Gently place the final layer of sponge cake (the middle section from when you sliced it) on top of the whipped cream dome.  Do not press down on the top of the cake.  Gently work the edges of the cake into the sides of the whipped cream, so that the edge is flush with the cream.  This helps create a smooth dome on top of the cake.

Spread the reserved whipped cream over the entire cake to fill any cracks and smooth out the surface.  Put the cake in the refrigerator while you roll out the marzipan.

Dust your rolling surface with powdered sugar and press the marzipan into a 6-inch circle.  If it was refrigerated, you may need to knead the marzipan to warm it up a bit first.  Sprinkle more powdered sugar atop the marzipan, and roll it out into a 14-inch diameter circle, less than 1/8-inch thick.  Use plenty of powdered sugar to prevent sticking.  Use your rolling pin to drape the rolled-out marzipan circle over the cake and smooth it around the cake gently with your hands.  If the marzipan wants to pleat or fold around the sides of the cake, pull it out from the cake gently with one hand and smooth it down with the other.  Trim the excess marzipan from the bottom of the cake with a sharp knife.  I rolled this extra marzipan into a long log and wrapped it around the bottom of the cake, and used another piece to make a small bow.  You can do whatever you like!  Sift more powdered sugar over the top of the cake and place the marzipan rose and leaves on the top.  I used some piping gel to adhere them to the cake, but you don't have to use anything.  If you moisten the bottoms of the rose and leaves, they will stick fine.

To serve, cut the cake into wedges using a sharp knife.  It can be served immediately or you can chill it for about an hour in the refrigerator for easier slicing.
Printable Recipe

I know, it seems like a lot of work.  But honestly, it isn't that bad.  The construction just takes a lot of words to explain, making the recipe seem harder than it really is.  Once you look at the diagram up top, it is much easier.

And truly, it is totally worth it.  It is DELICIOUS.  Seriously.  It is amazing.  I will definitely make this cake again.  You can change up the flavors of custard, the jam, you could even flavor the whipped cream!  It is divine.  Totally worthy of a princess.

Especially mine!


  1. Cutting into it without destroying it WAS the hardest part.
    I made this for my "princess'" birthday. (She was 19 in May).
    Love the pink cake! Perfect for a celebration.

  2. Not only does this cake look incredible, it tasted fantastic. Actually, I've been wanting another piece - when is her next birthday??? I'm not sure I can wait for 6. You did an amazing job!

  3. Okay, so I'm a little late to the party, but I just saw this post and I am impressed. You had about a million things to do and managed this multi-layered awesome cake. Wow.


Due to some bizarre spam comments I have recently received, I am moderating the comments for a while. I hope this spam craziness stops so this becomes unnecessary!