Monday, August 6, 2012

Food: Summering in Sweden with Swedish Summer Cake

For the past few years, my wanderlust has been firmly fixated on Summer time in Sweden.  I'm not sure if this is because I imagine they have the same long summer nights that we do, being close to the Arctic Circle, or if I just want to get my fish-crazy chow on in a lovely country known more for their social advancement and flat pack furniture than their history, but I have a serious jones on for some Sweden in the summer.

Summer cabin north of Stockholm, Sweden.
Summer cabin outside of Stockholm via

That being said, I also am firmly planted in the camp of not wanting to travel internationally with 2 small kids.  Canada is a big enough country, and just heading West to see my own family is an effort of Herculian patience and fortitude, so, yes flying internationally is not my current cup of tea.  Which means, I can just dream instead.
available at amazon

I've been stoking my Swede-love by reading Marcus Samuelsson's 'Yes, Chef', which I find hard to put down, (I love a good memoir, and I love reading about food as well, so...BAM!)

Also, to make use of the one million delicious fruits and berries produced in Ontario and Quebec this time of year (since these are the ones we get up here), I've been making my version of Nigella Lawson's Swedish Summer Cake from her Kitchen cookbook. 

 My love of cookbooks knows no bounds, and I remember reading the recipe sometime in the deep dark winter, and feeling intrigued, with the hopes of exploring it during a warmer season.  The other day we were having an amazing mid-summer, mid-week feast consisting entirely of barbecued peel and eat shrimp and corn on the cob, when I decided we were looking at the perfect time to test out the Swedish Summer Cake.  I couldn't remember if it was a Sophie Dahl recipe or a Nigella recipe, but once located, I decided to make a few changes.  The differences being, mine's easier:  Where Nigella splits her cake into 3 tiers, I stick to 2.  And while Nigella prefers a gooey, eggy custard for her middle layers, I stick to the ultimate in simplicity, Nature's icing, whipped cream and Nature's sprinkles, fruit.

Here's my adaptation, converted from grams, so excuse the wonkiness of that!

Swedish Summer Cake
 (adapted from Nigella Lawson's Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home)

                                                            356 F for 35 minutes
3 eggs
1 heaping cup of white sugar (like, pyramiding at the top heaping)
90 ml recently boiled water
1.5 tsp of baking powder
0.8 cup of all purpose flour

half a small carton of whipping cream (35%)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp honey

1 9-inch springform pan with removable bottom
parchment paper
strawberries, peaches, blueberries, raspberries, etc. (the fruit and quantity of your choice, really)

Preheat the oven to 356 F.  This is me being finnicky, but when I converted 180 celsius to fahrenheit via google, 356 F is what I came out with.  I bet 350 F would work just as well, but you might need another minute.

Prep the springform pan by cutting the parchment paper round to fit the bottom, and then spray or grease the sides of the pan.

I used my Kitchenaid mixer to whip this cake up, starting with the 3 eggs and sugar.  It is important to whip it fast and long, as you want the egg/sugar combo to double in size and become pale and velvety.  Once it gets there, turn the mixer down a notch while you pour in the 90 ml of water.  

In another bowl, mix up your baking powder and flour.  When they're mixed, start adding them to the still whisking mixer, stopping only to scrape down the sides to ensure everything is well combined.  

Pour the batter into your springform pan.  Into the oven it goes, and keep the oven light on so you can check on your progress.  It should take about 35 minutes, but you should really be basing the doneness on how golden brown the top is, and if you get a clean cake tester out of it.  

While it's baking, clean  up your Kitchenaid bowl and whisker, then completely dry it off.  Pour the whipping cream into the bowl once it and the whisker are securely attached to your machine again, and start whipping.  I like to put my vanilla in early, but I like to leave the honey until the cream starts to form soft peaks.  Keep whipping until the whipping cream forms stiff peaks, then stop.

Once the cake is baked, take it out to cool for 10-15 minutes before very carefully running a butter knife around the edge of the cake.  Then spring open your springform.  I like to pull the cake out and pull the parchment off the bottom before letting it cool a little more on a cake plate.  

Right before serving, use a serrated bread knife to slice horizontally through the middle of the cake.  Very carefully lift the top layer of the cake off and set it aside on a dinner plate.  I use my cake server and the serrated bread knife to lift the top layer, to ensure it doesn't break, but if it does break, you can just place it back on top afterwards and hide everything with whipping cream and berries.  

Plop a large dollop of whipping cream on the bottom half of the cake that you cut. Smooth it out and add some fruit, as much as you want, and then replace the top half of the cake.  Plop another large dollop of whipping cream and spread it out so it covers the entire top of your cake.  Add the rest of your fruit, slicing the larger fruit (peaches and strawberries) and leaving the smaller berries au naturel.

Slice it up, serve to your friends and loved ones and enjoy.  A slice of this tastes great with tea for breakfast the next day, while reading Yes, Chef, and I'm sure might also be good while perusing the latest Ikea Catalor right after you down your requisite bowl of chia seeds and hemp hearts.

                                                                 Serves 8-10