Sweden Celebrates Birthdays With A Cake Suited For Royalty

Green Princess Cake with fondant rose
Green Princess Cake with fondant rose - Anna Andersson Fotografi/Shutterstock

Much as tea time in England provides a moment of respite from one's busy day, Sweden has its own, more casual version of break time called fika. Usually enjoyed a few times a day for brief periods of time, this well-established coffee break is known for featuring sweet treats like homemade baked goods. The most eye-catching of any spread might be the bright green prinsesstårta, or princess cake, topped with a pretty pink rose. In fact, it's such a classic dessert throughout the country that Swedes will often eat it to celebrate birthdays, or to celebrate any special occasion, really.

Besides this sponge cake's unusual and striking color, the Swedish princess cake is known for its light, slightly nutty flavor. The creamy layers inside taste pleasantly sweet, as the vanilla pastry cream and fluffy whipped cream take center stage, and every layer is set apart with the sweet-tart zing of raspberry jam. This cake may have a lot of different components, but that's exactly what has cemented the princess cake as a cultural icon in Sweden. Each flavor melds together beautifully, for a perfect balance of flavors and textures that would definitely qualify as a memorable birthday experience.

At the turn of the 20th century, before the princess cake was enjoyed by all of Sweden, it was a favorite dessert of royalty, and we have one renowned home economics teacher to thank for its invention.

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Sweden's Princess Cake Was Named For Its Royal Connections

Green Princess Cake with birthday candles
Green Princess Cake with birthday candles - Knape/Getty Images

If your kid were to dress up as a princess for their birthday and got to eat a Swedish prinsesstårta, they'd technically be reenacting history. The recipe was originally created by Jenny Åkerström, an instructor hired by the brother of Swedish King Gustav V to help his three daughters learn domestic skills. Princesses Martha, Margaretha, and Astrid really fancied eating cake, so Åkerström created a different version for each of them, all intricately decorated.

In 1929, the baker released a cookbook, The Princess Cookbook: Home Cooking and Holiday Food, with the royal daughters' portraits on the front cover. It proved to be a great selling point, and the book became such a hit that it was reprinted, with new entries, multiple times. One edition of Åkerström's cookbook contained a version of the princess cake, simply titled "Green Cake," which was a favorite of the princesses. After rebranding it with a royal name, it soon became an iconic Swedish food found at most bakeries throughout the country and enjoyed at minor and major celebrations. People sometimes even fight over who gets to eat the flower on top.

If it were any other color, this cake would go by other names. The outer layer of green marzipan is a key factor in making it a true princess cake. Although the modern recipe varies only slightly from the original, its elegant combination of flavors is still worthy of royalty.

How A Classic Princess Cake Is Made

slice showing princess cake layers
slice showing princess cake layers - Debbismirnoff/Getty Images

Baking your own princess cake can be quite time-consuming, but some elements like the white sponge cake and raspberry jam can be prepared in advance. Using a boxed white cake mix is a common baking shortcut, along with using a jar of raspberry jam rather than making it from scratch. Besides sponge cake and jam, a princess cake requires some vanilla-flavored pastry cream, also called crème pâtissière, and the whole production is capped off with fresh homemade whipped cream.

The cake is composed of layers alternating the moist cake and the two creamy elements. The base tier is lined with a  pastry cream mixture with jam, the second has more pastry cream, and the top layer is a thick mound of whipped cream. The almond-based marzipan, complete with green food coloring, is rolled over the top, and the sought-after fondant rose is the final touch. Some bakers will fold the green marzipan onto the cake, stick the rose on, and call it good. Others will continue embellishing it by carefully piping the cake's base with whipped cream, piping some swirls on top, or dusting it with powdered sugar for a finished look.

Where To Eat Swedish Princess Cakes In The U.S.

Golden Gate Bridge at sunset
Golden Gate Bridge at sunset - Simonkr/Getty Images

If you've decided this bake is a bit of a doozy to recreate at home, (we don't blame you) you might be able to find it at a fancy bakery near you, particularly if they offer international selections. There was a time that you could find it at Ikea, though it seems it's been discontinued, to the dismay of its many fans.

There are actually several bakeries in cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles that specialize in baking princess cake. In San Francisco's Bay Area especially, where Swedish immigrants flocked to in the early 20th century, there are several Swedish shops, venues, and bakeries that showcase Scandinavian culture at its finest. The most famous place to enjoy an authentic princess cake is at Schubert's Bakery, where they're sold by the hundreds each day. Other hotspots like Ambrosia Bakery, Victoria Pastry, Yasukochi's Sweet Shop, and many more offer this classic treat for visitors to sample.

Whether you're making plans to road trip to San Francisco, booking a flight to Sweden, or attempting to recreate this famous dessert in the comfort of your own kitchen, this is surely one of the world's most unique cakes and is well worth the effort.

Read the original article on Mashed.