What do you think of when you think of Swedish cuisine? Of reindeer sweetened with berries and mountains of creamy potatoes? Of pickled herring and gravalax and Crayfish parties? Gallons of cider and shots of schnapps? Or do you think of Ikea cafes. The break from tealights and flatpacks to inhale meatballs and dime bars and make-up with your partner after the spat over whether you NEED that new lamp?
I think of all of this and I think – my heart rate quickening – of the cake and coffee. Because, boy, do those Swedes do coffee-breaks well. Cinnamon rolls, sweet little buns and chocolate balls – served with a brew that knocks your socks off!
On a New Year holiday to Stockholm a couple of years ago, the boy and I warmed our snowbitten fingers and flushed cheeks in wonderful cafes in Gamla Stan and on beautiful Djurgården island with all of these treats and more. A few weeks ago my lovely Swedish friend Mette made me a Princess cake – layers of cream, sponge, jam and custard, draped in silky green marzipan – and if I didn’t just nearly explode with joy whilst eating it. Mette: truly, you’re a legend.
So with the opportunity to bake something for my boss’s birthday tea, and him being married to a Swede – I took my chance to exercise some of my Swedophile urges. I looked far and wide for a perfect recipe. A fruit cake maybe? Pretzel-shaped cookies? Or some tiny saffron buns? I settled eventually on a recipe – from Nami Nami – on a Toska kook, a Swedish Tosca Cake.
The cake looked curious and I made a number of “strategic” errors whilst baking (more of this later) but it was a truly stonking recipe and one I will make again soon without doubt.
For the base: *4 medium or 3 large eggs *200ml sugar *400ml plain flour *1.5tsp baking powder *100ml milk *125 butter, melted and cooled And for the topping: *75g butter *100g flaked almonds *150ml sugar *4-5tbsp double cream *1 tbsp plain flour
1. Pre-heat your oven to 200Oc/180Oc fan and butter your tin. Make sure your tin is large enough. This is very important. You will need a 25cm tin – not a 20cm tin as I foolishly used.
2. Make the sponge cake by whisking the eggs and sugar for a few minutes until the mixture is thick, pale and creamy. Sieve the dry ingredients in. Then gently fold the milk and melted butter into the egg mousse. It will almost look like pancake batter but don’t fret!
3. Pour the batter into the tin and bake for about twenty minutes. I popped my cake on the bottom shelf of the oven and turned it around whilst it was baking to cook it evenly in my fan oven.
4. To make the tosca topping, add the almonds, sugar, cream, butter and flour in a small saucepan, warm and bring to the boil. Stir to make sure it doesn’t burn.
5. After the cake has baked for twenty minutes spoon the tosca mix on top and then return to the oven, on the top shelf, and cook for another ten minutes. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn though!
Also note that your tin MUST be large enough. I very quickly realised – as the sponge cake started to rise over the top of the tin – that there would be trouble ahead – but threw caution to the wind and poured the topping mix on nonetheless… before long it dripped first onto the floor of my oven and then all over my baking tin, which I used to catch the goo and was not only a criminal waste, but a right bugger to clean.
6. Once the topping is a lovely golden brown colour, remove the cake from your oven and cool on a wire-rack.
So, barring my stupidity this was a pretty simple cake. Soft and gooey with a crunchy hyper-sweet topping. If you like almonds or florentines I suggest you give it a bash. My boss told me the Swedish word for “yummy yummy” and I have totally forgotten.. but really, yummy yummy does the trick quite nicely.