May 29, 2013

An Eggless Prinsesstårta (Swedish Princess Cake) : Daring Bakers Challenge May, 2013

A
dainty looking pale green cake with pink roses on top would perhaps be the perfect cake to serve a princess or maybe 3 princesses? That’s what a Swedish teacher once made for three princesses who were here students, and therein lays the story of the Swedish Prinsesstårta or the Princess Cake.
 
Korena of Korena in the Kitchen was our May Daring Bakers’ host and she delighted us with this beautiful Swedish Prinsesstårta! This post was due a couple of days back, but I was away and just got back. I had made this cake quite early in the month, and it was such a good cake that there was no way I was going to miss posting it, even though a bit late.



 

I had seen a Princess Cake way back, in the days when I used to have the time to regularly read my favourite blogs. I also remember thinking it looked very pretty but was too much work for me to attempt it. A traditional Swedish Prinsesstårta is dome-shaped and made up layers of sponge cake which are sandwiched with raspberry jam and thick vanilla custard and topped with a dome shaped layer of whipped cream. This is then topped with one more layer of cake and covered with a pale green coloured marzipan layer and decorated with a marzipan rose. Sometimes the cake is then dusted with powdered/ icing sugar.
 
The Prinsesstårta is credited to a Swedish home economics teacher called Jenny Åkerström, who taught the daughters of the then Swedish king, Prince Carl, Duke of Västergötla.  The three sisters, Margaretha, Märtha, and Astrid were supposed to have been very fond of this cake.
 
There is also a story that Ms. Åkerström originally made three very elaborate “princess cake”, a different one for each princess, and the Prinsesstårta as we know it is a simplified combination of all three. The recipe for this Princess Cake first appeared in print in Jenny Åkerström’s 4 volume coobook series, the "Prinsessornas Kokbok".




 
So why is the cake green? No one seems to know why, and that still remains a mystery. Perhaps the princesses liked green, or maybe it was their teacher’s favourite colour. Or maybe, just maybe, green was the only colour Ms. Åkerström had on hand to mix into her marzipan! Whatever the reason for that, the green does make for a very unusual looking and striking cake, and it’s the perfect background for the rose that sits on top.
 
The cake was originally called “Gron tarta” (green cake), but was given the name “Prinsesstårta” or “Prinsessakakku” or “Princess Cake” because the princesses were said to have been especially fond of the cake. Today, the Prinsesstårta is popular in Finland as well as Sweden, so much so that they have dedicated a whole week in September to celebrate Prinsesstårta Week!
  
And with good reason – this is a delicious cake! The sponge cake is as soft as a feather and despite all the whipped cream and custard, it is very light and not too sweet. The cake may seem too difficult and time consuming to make, as I first thought, but it is catually bnot too difficult to do, especially with a bit of planning.
You can even break down making the various components of the cake on different days and then put them all together on the day you would like to serve it.
We had to create a dome-shaped cake in the spirit of a traditional Prinsesstårta with layers of sponge cake, jam, custard, a mound of whipped cream, and a final layer of sponge cake, covered with marzipan or any other rolledcovering like fondant.



 
Here’s a good video to watch that shows how a Prinsesstårta is made, and another one that details how to make marzipan roses. The most common variations are the Hallonprinsesstårta, or raspberry Prinsesstårta, made with custard, whipped cream flavoured with raspberry jam, whole raspberries, and topped with pink marzipan.
Then there is the Karl-Gustav tårta, made with custard, sliced banana, a chocolate-covered meringue disc replacing the middle layer of cake, and covered with yellow marzipan.
And finally the Williamtårta, made with custard, poached pear, whipped cream, topped with marzipan, covered with a shiny chocolate glaze, and garnished with toasted sliced almonds.

A typical Prinsesstårta is made as shown in the crosssection below, though some have variations of these. 
1 - Marzipan, 2 - Sponge cake, 3 - Whipped cream, 4 - Crème Patisserie/ Vanilla Custard, 5 - Sponge cake. 6 - Crème Patisserie/ Vanilla Custard, 7 - Raspberry jam, 8 - Sponge cake
 
Please see Korena’s Prinsesstårta for detailed instructions and the original challengerecipe. I decided to make the original green version with the pink rose on top, and followed her instructions to put together my Prinsesstårta but decided to create an eggless version of the original. So I used an eggless sponge cake, eggless vanilla custard, and an eggless marzipan that I made at home.  
 
 
 I used my eggless sponge cake recipe to make the sponge cake required for this recipe. I baked it in an 8” round cake tin, and gave me three perfect layers. The recipe for the Eggless Crème Patisserie/ Vanilla Custard is given below. Here in India, we get only 25% fat cream, and we’ve been having a very hot summer so I decided to stabilize my cream with cornstarch. You can also stabilize it with agar 



 I do not get readymade marzipan here, and home-made is always better anyways. I made an eggless cashew marzipan but instead of powdering the cashewnuts, I soaked them in hot water for 4 hours, drained the water and then ground them into a fine paste. I then cooked them into marzipan using my regular recipe.
I used 2cups of broken cashews to make my marzipan and I had more than enough to cover my 8” cake as well as make three roses and lots of leaves, with a little more left over. The excess marzipan can be refrigerated for later use.



 The finished Prinsesstårta should be refrigerated until serving, preferably the same day. It keeps well for one more day, but after that, tends to lose its structure and look messy though it will still taste pretty good. My cake was big enough to serve about 10.
Eggless Crème Patisserie (Vanilla Custard)
 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups milk
3 tbsp vanilla custard powder
4 tbsp sugar
 

Method: 

Dissolve the custard powder in 1/4 cup of milk in a small bowl and keep aside. Put the remaining milk and sugar in a pan and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat. Mix the cusrad powder-milk mixture id the custard powder has settled down at the bottom and slowly add it to the simmering milk, while stirring constantly.
Keep stirring it constantly so that no lumps are formed, until the custard thickens well. Turn off the heat and let it cool, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate till required. 
 
 
 
Some tips that made my Prinsesstårta an easier experience.

1.       Always remember to line the base of your cake tin with buttered parchment paper while making a sponge cake. This helps for easy removal of the cake from the tin.

2.      It helps to make the sponge cake a day ahead and refrigerate it before cutting it into 3 layers. Overnight refrigeration made it easier to handle and cut my sponge cake into three layers.

3.      The same goes for the custard. Spreading chilled custard on the cake meant that it wasn’t spilling over the sides of the cake.

4.      Filling the custard into a piping bag and piping it out into a layer makes for even thickness of the custard layer as well as an even edge to the layer.

5.      I also found it easier to handle the whipped cream after stabilizing it and then piping it onto the cake in a mound. This also meant I could shape the cream mound better and faster into a very even dome shape.
You can stabilize cream with agar or cornstarch.

6.      Gel food colour is the best to colour marzipan as liquid food colour can add moisture to the marzipan making it sticky.

I used liquid colour as that’s what I had. Just knead more icing sugar into the marzipan to make it easier to handle.

7.      If you live in hotter tropical climates like mine, it is an excellent idea to keep returning the cake to the fridge during assembly any time you feel the cake can do with it, especially during the shaping of the whipped cream layer and when covering with the marzipan.
 
 

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