This weekend we were invited to a party by a Swedish friend to celebrate the completion of their kitchen renovation and house expansion. Another friend named the party SMÖRGÅS BÖRGÅS. Ok, it’s not really a word and a odd interpretation of the actual Swedish word “smörgåsbord”; the equivalent of Häagen-Dazs, another made-up word with randomly placed accents.
It was the perfect opportunity to make a smörgåstårta! I had come across this beautiful sandwich cake by Panini Happy a couple years ago when I was looking to make a friend a healthy cake. Instead, I made her a knit cake: The Healthiest Cake.
The recipe is published on Saveur, translated from a Swedish cookbook, Very Swedish by Annica Triberg. There were a couple of ingredients which I was unfamiliar with: dark syrup and caster sugar. Dark syrup or “mörk sirap”, a Scandinavian specialty product, is a sweetener made from processed sugar beets. Dark syrup can be substituted with light molasses, although the taste isn’t an exact match as the Swedish version is sweeter and less bitter.1 Caster sugar is a sugar with a coarseness somewhere between granulated/table sugar and powdered sugar. The name is of British origins and it is known here (in the US) as “superfine” sugar.2 There’s no need to rush out to the supermarket however, because it can be made at home with a blender or food processor.3
If you prefer, you can purchase bread and assemble it into cake layers. However, I enjoy baking so I followed the recipe and baked the bread the night before the party. The dough was an extremely wet dough which initially I wasn’t sure was correct, especially considering the instructions for kneading and shaping the dough with which I would have found impossible considering its consistency. Luckily, a stand mixer was used, which makes it considerably easier to knead a wet dough. I let the dough rise and then poured and spread it into a greased springform cake pan using a spatula before giving it the second rise. Once baked and cooled, I cut off the top and then cut it into three layers using a bread knife (no need for a special cake slicer). Then the sides were cut off. The outer crust was then chopped into smaller pieces to be made into croutons. The crumb of the resulting bread is actually quite nice.
The three spreads for this cake are böckling mousse, a cream cheese mixture, and mustard sauce. I’m not particularly a fan of smoked fish and Mr. Rabbit adamantly requested “No herring, please!”. So, based on the options at the market, I selected smoked bluefish for the smoked fish mousse (not böckling, as I chose not to use herring). As usual, I substituted the sour cream with Greek yogurt. And for the mustard sauce, only Dijon mustard was used because no other appropriate mustard was on hand. I would recommend using less oil. In fact, I think there may have been a mistake in the translation with regards to the amount of oil necessary. It resulted in way too much mustard sauce and thinned out flavor.
Tip: A general cake decorating tip – place four strips of wax paper between the first bread layer and plate around the edge of the cake. Carefully remove the wax paper strips once the cake is finished and voilà, you have a clean plate, free of any “icing” or other cake elements.
Layer 1: Moisten bread with mineral water. Top with smoked fish mousse and then a layer of sliced cucumbers. (In this case, I made two cucumber layers because the cucumbers were sliced so thinly. – not pictured)
Layer 2: Moisten bread with mineral water. Spread with butter. Top with smoked salmon, mustard sauce and then chopped romaine lettuce.
Finished layers before the cake is “iced” with the final cream cheese layer.
Tip: Allow the cream cheese spread to warm up to make it easier to spread. If it is still too cool, use your hand to warm it up as you apply it.
Mr. Rabbit was so excited about this cake that he contributed by helping to decorate it. We used radish, parsley, cucumbers, hard boiled eggs (two), grape tomatoes and smoked salmon. The smoked salmon roses were made by slicing the salmon in half along its long edge and then rolled it. The radish and cucumbers were sliced with a mandolin and cut in half. The eggs and tomatoes were quartered and a bit of the tip of the eggs were cut off as well. Along the top of edge of the cake, the cream cheese spread was piped on.
(Unfortunately, I don’t have a good image of the inside of the cake once it was completed, particularly its layers.)
Note: There is an error in the recipe printed by Saveur. A missing ingredient under toppings is peeled shrimp, as it is mentioned in the instructions.
One person commented that it was discombobulating because visually it looks like a cake so her mind expected something sweet, but the taste, of course, was savory. Another friend was able to get her young son away from Lego-playing with the promise of cake. He tried one part, but didn’t like it. He tried another part, but still didn’t like it. He tried yet another part and still didn’t like it; so finally he ran back to the Legos. Well, I can understand how it would be disappointing if you’re expecting something sweet, but if your palate prefers the savory, you can your cake and eat it. . .literally.
Guten Appetit! Or in this case, smaklig måltid!