Prinsesstårta (Swedish Princess Cake)
Let me start by saying that this is one of my all-time favourite cakes. I first tried it about a decade ago in the Swedish flat-pack wonder-warren that is Ikea, and swore I’d eat one every birthday and probably every weekend from that day forward. I’ve no idea why I haven’t posted this recipe before, but with Sweden hosting this weekend’s Eurovision glitter-fest, I felt it was my duty to share with you this appropriately kitsch cake, which is surely the most fantastic Swedish export after Abba.
Prinsesstårta is a dome-shaped, light and airy sponge cake layered with raspberry jam and vanilla-scented patisserie cream, then topped with a mound of whipped cream and covered with green marzipan (green for reasons I can’t quite fathom). It is traditionally dusted with a little icing sugar and topped with a pink marzipan rose. A chocolate squiggle on top is optional, I have chosen not to do that here. Marzipan haters, leave the room. This is not for you.
This recipe does seem like a bit of a faff, and there are quite a few stages, but I’ve streamlined where possible to make it easier. Use shop-bought raspberry jam and marzipan. There are many things in life that I will always make from scratch. Marzipan ain’t one of them. You can actually buy green marzipan online; but that in itself can be a mission. As long as you’ve got green food colouring and a block of natural marzipan, you’re good to go. The marzipan can be coloured days in advance, and the patisserie cream can be made the day before. All that’s left is to whip up the sponge and layer it. Overall, it’s certainly not a quick cake to make, but set aside a few hours and enjoy the process! I recommend reading through the whole recipe and instructions so you can get prepped as much as possible. This cake is best eaten fairly quickly, as it’s a fat-free sponge and they tend not to keep very well. Having said that, once it has been layered and covered, it will be ok for a couple of days stored in the fridge.
If you try any recipe on this site, make it this one. This Swedish gem is the best cake ever – knock me down with a sack of meatballs and call me Agnetha if that’s not the case.
Serves 8-10. You will need an 8″ round tin, either springform or loose-bottomed. Oil thoroughly and line the bottom only (not the sides).
For the patisserie cream:
2 large egg yolks
60g/4 level tbsp caster sugar
25g/3 level tbsp corn flour (corn starch in the US)
30g/2 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla paste (or natural extract)
For the sponge:
160g caster sugar
4 large eggs
1 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla paste (or natural extract)
1/4 tsp salt
100g self raising flour (cake flour in the US). Alternatively, use plain flour plus 1 level tsp baking powder.
750g marzipan – colour 600g with green colour paste (I used Sugarflair Mint Green) and 150g with pink. Knead your colours until even – it will happen eventually! Wrap in clingfilm until needed.
100g raspberry jam
500ml whipping cream
Icing sugar for dusting
Making the patisserie cream (you can do this a day or two in advance – refrigerate before using on the cake):
Place the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a bowl and whisk together until you have a thick custard-like consistency. Combining will be tricky at first, but keep going through the grainy stage until it is smooth. Meanwhile, place the milk in a saucepan and bring to simmering point. When it has started to bubble, remove the milk from the heat and pour roughly a few tablespoons over the egg mix. Quickly whisk until combined, then pour this mixture into the saucepan with the remaining milk. Return to the heat.
Keep the heat as low as possible and keep whisking until it has thickened. It should be like a super-thick custard, almost blancmange-like in consistency. It might only take a minute, or it could take a few more. Be patient, and as soon as it looks ready, remove it from the heat immediately. Add the butter and vanilla and whisk until melted and well mixed. You have made patisserie cream! Pour it into a bowl and cover with cling film, to help prevent a skin forming. Leave to cool then transfer to the fridge until needed.
Making the sponge:
Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gas mark 4. You will need a whisk attachment for this. Simply place all of the ingredients except the flour into a mixing bowl and whisk for several minutes until you have a lemon-coloured, slightly thickened and foamy mixture. (See above left picture for an idea). Now add the sifted flour and fold it in – don’t whisk! Be as gentle as possible. A silicone spatula is ideal for this as you can scrape down the sides of the bowl and cut through the mixture – like a figure 8 – incorporating the flour as you go. Just keep going gently until you can’t see any dry bits of flour.
Pour the cake batter into your oiled and lined (bottom only) tin. Place in the centre of a preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes until golden as shown. A skewer will come out clean. Place on a cooling rack and cool completely in the tin. This is a fragile cake and is easier to handle once it has cooled and firmed up a bit.
Layering the sponge:
Using a cake leveller or a serrated knife, slice the sponge in half. Place the bottom half onto your desired cake stand or plate – you won’t be able to move it later! – and spread the jam all over. You might want to warm the jam for a few seconds in the microwave if it is hard to spread. Now dollop on about two thirds of the patisserie cream and spread all over the jam. Whip the patisserie cream for a minute or two if it has set too hard to spread. Place the other half of the sponge on top.
Now whip the cream until it is very stiff. Place heaped spoonfuls on to the centre of the cake and use an angled palette knife to form a sort of dome. As you spread the cream outwards, you can smooth the edges of the cake at an angle to help the rounded appearance. This is a really soft cake and it’s pretty easy to coax it into shape! Spread a few tablespoons around the edges of the cake.
Applying the marzipan:
Dust your work surface with icing sugar and roll out your marzipan to around 13″ diameter. Keep lifting and turning the marzipan as you roll – this will help prevent sticking. Lift and place on to the centre of the cake and use the palms of your hands to softly press it into place.
Using a regular table knife, gently slice away the excess paste, leaving a couple of millimetres spare. You can then use the knife to neaten the edges by pressing the bottom of the marzipan inwards (almost tucking it under the cake).
Making a simple marzipan rose:
Now to make a marzipan rose! Pull off 9 pieces of marzipan, each roughly the size of a cherry stone, and roll into balls. I have laid them out as above to demonstrate the layering stages. Using your thumb and forefinger, gently flatten each ball into a disc shape – a petal! They will look similar but not identical – and that of course is the true beauty of a real rose. The top (first) petal will be your base.
Take the first petal, and roll it, scroll-like, as shown. Take another piece and wrap it over the join, mainly sticking the lower half of the petal. Marzipan is wonderful as it simply sticks to itself – no need for water or edible glue.
Keep wrapping the second and third petals as shown, each one overlapping the last. Use the tip of your finger to lightly push the tops of the petal outward for a natural appearance. Gently squeeze the top each petal into a slight ‘v’ shape, as a natural rose has. There are plenty of tools and equipment out there to help make the perfect edible rose, but I am hoping to show here that anyone can do this with no tools – just a bit of practice! Continue now with the remaining five petals; overlapping, lightly opening the tops and squeezing the edges. Your rose will look very tall/long by the time you’ve finished – simply slice off the bottom! Making a rose is harder to explain than it is to actually do – this rose took me just a couple of minutes!
Lightly press the rose into the centre of the cake. Use a dab of water if it doesn’t stick (marzipan forms a ‘crust’ after a short while). Use a little excess green paste to make a couple of leaves – simply press two marble-sized balls into oval shapes and pinch the ends to make a leaf shape. Use a knife to gently score a pattern, then arrange them around the base of the rose.
For the base of the cake, I added a decorative scalloped edge. If you have a similar cutter, you can use that. Just lightly dampen the bottom of the cake with a little water to help stick any decorations on. Or you can simply leave it plain, or use a ribbon if you prefer. Now stand back and admire the gorgeousness of this cake! Slice it up and enjoy – possibly with a cup of tea while watching Eurovision?! Just remember to store any leftover cake in the fridge.