The holiday season is officially upon us and with that comes many occasions to celebrate with friends and family. This cake is a great way and a reason in and of itself to gather those you hold dear. This cake is found at almost every patisserie in Sweden, usually covered in green or pink marzipan with a pink rose on top though and not white with pinecones like here.
Photo credits: Ned Stankus
The origins of this cake can be traced to the 1948 publishing of "The princesses cookbook" by Jenny Åkerström. She was the teacher of the three Swedish princesses Margaretha, Märtha and Astrid and apparently the three princesses just loved this cake. It didn't take long before the cake was very popular with the general population as well. For good reason! This cake is amazing. I should warn you though. This recipe calls for raspberry jam, which technically makes this an Opera cake, as opposed to an authentic Princess cake. There is some controversy around the raspberry jam and how, by who and when it was introduced to this recipe, but I say let them discuss - I'll enjoy this sweet cake regardless of it's name.
For the sponge cake
2 dl / 0.8 cups sugar
1.5 dl / 0.6 cups flour
1 dl / 0.4 cups potato flour
2 tsp baking powder
grated zest from 1/2 lemon
1 dl / 0.4 cups hot water
Grease a round baking dish with removable edges. Get your oven to 350F / 175C (convection oven) or 395F / 200C (regular oven).
Beat the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy.
Blend the two flours together with baking powder and lemon zest.
Add the dry ingredients to the eggs and sugar alternating with the hot water.
Bake for 30 mins.
For the raspberry jam
I prefer to make my own jam as I think the store bought kind is too sweet for this cake. The cake itself is very sweet so I want my raspberries to add a little tart and freshness. Of course you can use store bought if you like as well, but making this jam is super simple. This recipe will leave you with a little bit of jam left over to use for breakfast.Since there are no preservatives and very little sugar this won't keep very long so enjoy it within a week or two.
6 dl / 20 oz frozen raspberries
3 tbs sugar
Cook for about 5-10 minutes and let cool.
For the vanilla sauce
This is a quick and easy way to get a vanilla sauce for cakes and desserts, but if you are worried about consuming uncooked egg yolks you can substitute for vanilla custard.
1/2 vanilla bean
3 egg yolks
3 tbs sugar
3 dl / 1.25 cup heavy whipping cream
Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and mix with the egg yolks and the sugar. Whip together until creamy and white. Whip the cream and turn down in the egg mixture.
For the marzipan cover
14 oz / 400g Marzipan
1-2 tbs butter at room temperature
The easiest way to roll out the marzipan is to form it into a round ball and place it between two sheets of parchment paper. Then roll on top of the parchment paper so the marzipan doesn't stick to your rolling pin. You want to roll it to a big circle and make it big enough that you are sure it will cover the entire cake. If any part of the marzipan bleed outside the parchment paper, make sure you can get it off without breaking it. You can 'flour' the surface with some powdered sugar if needed.
When you are done, spread a thin layer of butter on top. The buttered side of the marzipan goes against the cake and it will protect the marzipan from 'sweating' or dissolving too quickly from the moisture of the cake.
Putting it all together
Cut your sponge cake into 3 round discs. Place the bottom disc on the plate you intend to serve the cake on. Spread plenty of your raspberry jam on top and then add the middle sponge cake disc on top. Now it's time to spread the vanilla sauce. Then add the remaining piece of sponge cake on top.
Whip 2.5 dl / 1 cup of heavy whipping cream fairly hard and spread all over the cake, making a dome of cream on top.
Place the marzipan cover on top and cut the edges of the marzipan even to the edges of the cake.
Decorate! I made little pinecones out of slivered almonds that I pushed into some leftover pieces of marzipan, and put my rosemary to good use for the sides. Some powdered sugar on top will help hide any imperfections.