Swedish Princess Cake

This classic Swedish cake was a birthday present to my very dear friend’s daughter. She liked it living back in Europe during her delicate childhood years (the girl is 17 now and what a beauty she is). Traditionally, the cake composed of three layers of génoise filled with a bit of strawberry (sometimes, raspberry) jam, pastry cream, and topped (more, than generously) with whipped cream. This quite loose construction is wrapped in pale-green marzipan (nobody knows why it’s green). The cake doesn’t last. The marzipan simply melts from the direct contact with cream. And I desperately needed this cake to spend a night in a fridge. Looking for the solution, I found Bo Friberg’s advice to spread a layer of buttercream over the rolled marzipan. How does it sound to you? I didn’t find his tip very much appealing. Instead, I baked an extra génoise sheet, cut it into wedges, and lined a bowl. Then I proceeded with an upside-down assembly. Once unmolded, the cake was covered with a thin layer of buttercream. And after a couple of hours in the fridge, it was ready to be covered with marzipan. This extra work might be unnecessary if you plan to serve the cake the same day you make it. If this is a case, assemble the cake as it’s usually done, freeze it briefly, then wrap in marzipan. Unfortunately, I can’t show you a slice. But I sketched some diagram below to explain my way of assembling this cake.

Makes one large dome-shaped cake, about 16 servings

For the marzipan:

  • 1 lb almond paste
  • 1 lb icing sugar, sifted
  • 4 oz light corn syrup
  • Pastel green (it’s safer to go with the pastel color; you don’t want the cake to resemble a soccer field) and pink food colors

For the génoise (the génoise recipe is adapted from Paul Bugat):

You will need two jelly-roll pans: one is a 13×18-inches (half-sheet pan) and another one is a 10×15-inches.

Bake the génoise sheets in batches and mix the batter, one batch at a time (unless you operate a commercial high-capacity stand mixer ).

For the 13×18-inches génoise:

  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 185g (6 ½ oz) fine granulated sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 160 g (5 ¾ oz) all purpose flour
  • 10 g (1/3 oz) potato starch (or corn starch)
  • 20 g (3/4 oz) clarified butter, melted
  • ¾ tsp pure vanilla extract

For the 10×15-inches génoise:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1large egg yolk
  • 125 g (4 ½ oz) fine granulated sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 100 g (3 ½ oz) all-purpose flour
  • 10 g (1/3 oz) potato (or corn) starch
  • 15 g (1/2 oz) clarified butter, melted
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract

For the soaking syrup:

  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp kirsch

For the filling:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 100 g (1/2 cup) fine granulated sugar
  • 40 g cornstarch, sifted
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled
  • ½ cup whipping cream, chilled
  • 1 leaf of gelatin
  • 2 ½ cups whipping cream, chilled
  • 2 ½ tbsp fine granulated sugar
  • 2 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup good quality strawberry jam

For the Swiss buttercream:

  • 4 large egg whites (1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup fine granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 2-tbsp portions
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp kirsch

Make the marzipan:

Combine the almond paste and the most of the icing sugar (leave about a scant 1 cup aside – it will be used for kneading later) in the bowl of the food processor. Pulse several times until fine crumbs form. Add the corn syrup and keep pulsing until large clumps are formed. Transfer the marzipan onto a silicone mat, dusted lightly with the icing sugar, and knead the marzipan, adding more of the remaining icing sugar, until a pliable and not oily mass forms. Pinch off a small portion for the rose (if you wish). Knead in the food color (pastel green – for the most of the marzipan and pink – for the small portion (or leave it uncolored; an ivory rose looks fabulous on the pale-green)). Wrap tightly in several layers of plastic. Store away from a daylight.

Can be made well in advance.

Making the marzipan rose is not much different from the molding it from the chocolate plastic. Let the formed rose dry undisturbed.

Make the génoise:

The method for both génoise sheets is the same.

Lightly brush the pans with melted butter, line with parchment paper, then butter the paper. Set aside.

Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 375F.

Sift the flour and cornstarch together three times; return to the sifter and set aside.

In a bowl of your electric mixer, using a whisk, combine the eggs, sugar, and salt thoroughly. Place the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Whisking constantly, heat the eggs to lukewarm (about 105F). Remove the bowl from the pan; leave the skillet on the stove but turn off the heat. With an electric mixer, beat the egg mixture at medium-high speed until it has cooled, tripled in volume, thickened and become almost white in color, about 5 minutes in a heavy-duty mixer or longer with a less powerful mixer.

Meanwhile, place the clarified butter and vanilla extract into a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl in the skillet of hot water, with the burner off, to keep it warm.

Sift about one-third of the flour mixture over the whipped eggs. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the mixture-quickly but gently-until combined. Fold in half the remaining flour, then fold in the rest. Remove the warm butter mixture from the skillet. Scoop about 1 cup of the batter into the bowl with the butter and fold together until completely combined. Use the large rubber spatula to fold the butter mixture completely into the remaining batter. Turn the batter into the prepared pan and spread it into an even layer with a large offset spatula.

Bake until the génoise is lightly browned but not crusty, about 12 minutes.

Remove from the oven and loosen the edges of the génoise from the parchment using a paring knife. Slide the génoise off the baking sheet onto a wire rack. Cool slightly, cover the cake with a sheet of parchment paper, place a rack over the parchment and turn the cake upside down. Carefully peel away the parchment, then turn the parchment over and use to cover the cake. Place another rack on the cake and turn the cake again, remove the parchment from the top, and cool completely.

It’s the best to bake the génoise the same day you plan to assemble the cake; the sheets are thin and will dry out quickly.

Make the syrup:

In a small saucepan, combine the water and sugar. Heat over the medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup comes to the boil. Cool. Right before using, stir in the kirsch.

Can be made several days in advance.

Make the filling:

In a small saucepan, bring the milk and vanilla bean (scrape the seeds into the milk) to the boil over the medium heat. Off the heat, cover and let steep for an hour.

Prepare an ice bath.

Return the vanilla-infused milk to the medium heat. Reheat the milk once again to the boiling point. In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk together.

Once the milk has reached the boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture. Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.

Pour the yolk-milk mixture back into the saucepan and place the pan over the medium heat. Whisk vigorously and continuously until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat). The pastry cream should be thick and the cornstarch taste should be all gone. Strain the pastry cream into a small bowl set into the ice-water bath to stop the cooking process.

Continue stirring the mixture at this point so it remains smooth. Once the cream has reached the temperature of 140F remove it from the ice-water bath and stir in the butter in two additions.

Let the cream cool to 98F. Meanwhile, whip ½ cup of the whipping cream to soft peaks (don’t overbeat; it’s important) and set aside. Soften the leaf of the gelatin in cold water for a couple of minutes, then melt it in a microwave (about 15 seconds on high) or in hot water bath. Whisk about ½ cup of the pastry cream into the melted gelatin, then whisk the cream-gelatin mixture back into the rest of the pastry cream. Cool to about 85F (the mixture shouldn’t feel warm anymore). Fold about a quarter of the softly whipped cream into the pastry cream, then gently fold in the rest of the whipped cream. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly over the surface of the cream. Refrigerate at least for 4 hours, better – overnight.

Make the Swiss buttercream:

Bring 1 inch of water to a simmer in a wide skillet. Turn the burner off . In a bowl of a stand mixer, lightly whisk the egg whites, sugar, and salt together, then set the bowl in the hot water. Whisk until the egg-white mixture is hot to the touch and an instant read thermometer reads 140F. You might need to return the skillet to the lowest heat to reach the desired temperature of the egg whites. It will take about 8 minutes.

Place the bowl with the egg whites to the stand mixer base and whip with a wire attachment on medium-high speed until double in volume and cool; the meringue should not move around in the bowl when you are finished. It takes another 6 to 8 minutes.

Replace the wire whisk onto the paddle. Gradually, 2 tbsp at a time, beat in the softened butter at medium-medium/high speed. Add the next portion of the butter after the previous portion has been incorporated. When all of the butter has been added, slowly increase the mixer’s speed to medium-high and continue beating the buttercream until the mixture begins to look light and fluffy. It might take up to 10 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape the bowl. Reduce the speed to low. Add the vanilla extract and kirsch, and continue to beat on low speed for a minute. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat again for an additional minute until the cream is light and fluffy.

The buttercream can be refrigerated for up to 3 days (bring to room temperature and beat again until light before using) or frozen for up to 3 months, in an air-tight container. But I prefer to use it right away.

Assemble the cake:

Line a bowl (5 to 6 cups capacity; 8-inch in diameter) with plastic wrap. Set aside.

Cut out two 8-inch circles from the 13×18-inches génoise sheet, and cut out another 8-inch circle from the 10×15 génoise sheet. Cut the remaining génoise into wedges and fit them tightly into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared bowl (like for Italian zuccotto) and lightly soak with the kirsch sugar syrup.

Whip 2 ½ cups of the whipping cream with the sugar and vanilla extract until stiff peaks form, but don’t overbeat. Measure out a scant cup of the whipped cream and set aside. Transfer the rest of the cream into the génoise-lined bowl, smooth the surface of the cream. Take one of the total three génoise circles (trim it if it’s necessary to fit), brush lightly with the soaking syrup and place, soaked side down, over the layer of the whipped cream. Brush with the soaking syrup again. Spread the chilled pastry cream filling over the génoise layer. Take a second génoise circle, brush with the syrup and invert, soaked side down, over the pastry cream. Brush with the syrup and spread the reserved scant cup of the whipped cream over. Now take the last génoise circle, moisten it lightly with the syrup and gently spread with the strawberry jam. Carefully invert this layer, jam side down, over the cake. Place a cake cardboard over, cover with plastic and refrigerate at least for two hours and up to a night.

Once unmolded, the cake will be difficult to move, so choose your serving platter now. Remove the cake in the bowl from the refrigerator, unwrap. Put a small dab of the buttercream onto the cake cardboard to secure the cake to the serving platter. Place the serving platter over the cake and carefully invert. Unmold. Lightly moisten the top of the cake with the syrup and spread a thin layer of the buttercream over the sides and the top of the cake. You might have some buttercream left over; freeze it for later use. Refrigerate the cake for two hours to firm up.

On the icing sugar-dusted surface, roll the marzipan to 1/8-inch thickness and drape over the cake. Smooth the surface, trim the excess. Glue the marzipan rose with a small amount of the buttercream or royal icing to the top of the cake. Refrigerate until serving time.

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58 Responses to “Swedish Princess Cake”

  1. wow this cake is super cute! It’s perfect and it must be delicious too. Wish to dive in this cake although it will be a pity cutting it :) so nice!

  2. I adore the complexity of this cake! And it is so beautiful too! I would feel a real princess to have this made for me!

  3. So impressive and beautiful! The rose is stunning!

  4. Fantastic! This cake looks so beautiful and extremely scrumptious! That rose is sooooo pretty…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  5. Oh my goodness, I can definitely see why it’s called a princess cake! If I had a little girl, I would buy this for her first birthday. I’d definitely want a filling with sweet strawberries. Your instructions on assembling it are fantastic…if I ever have the courage, I might just whip this up :). It looks like it could also be a cute wedding cake!

  6. Yum! What a beautiful princess cake. I’ve had a recipe for princess cake for quite some time but have always been a little afraid to try it. Now, after seeing your beautiful assembly, I’ve got to! Great job!

  7. Absolutely gorgeous and professional looking, Vera. Thanks for the illustration. I’ve used marzipan as a cake cover a couple times and also put a thin layer of buttercream underneath. That worked out pretty good without dissolving the marzipan. Now that I think of it, I did use homemade marzipan (using Deeba’s recipe). Not sure if that made a difference vs store-bought.

  8. Good gracious! First of all, incredible job on a perfect looking cake. The rose itself if perfection! I learned how to do those this weekend and mine looked nothing like that! Also typing out all of those instructions, well, thank you!

  9. perfect cake and fabulous instructions! thank you!

  10. OMG Vera! This is perfect geometry! Your friend’s daughter must have been so happy!

  11. Gorgeous!! I haven’t had princess cake in the longest time. This would make a fantastic daring bakers challenge.

  12. What a pretty cake! So simple and elegant.

  13. for crying out loud, vera–is everything you do perfect? this is immaculate and pristine and untouchable. really very expertly done. :)

  14. What a lot of work! This truly was an act of love on your part. It came out beautifully.

    Kate

  15. Wait, marzipan melts when in contact with cream? I never knew that!! Thanks for the tip!! Love your cake! It’s really elegant and cute at the same time—no wonder it’s called a princess cake! I totally love the diagram too, just like those you find in the pages of a baking bible!

  16. Fantastic! I wish I lived close to you so I could watch you bake! The rose is perfect!

  17. Beautiful cake..looks like a fancy cake dome!!

  18. Beautiful cake, Vera!!!!! I love the rose, so chic…

    ana

  19. so dainty and dreamy!!

  20. Well, I would like to say that I was lucky enough to recieve this cake for my birthday, and had the pleasure of recieving the first slice, which was just… wow. I was speechless. Thank you Vera for this magnificent present. It was the best of all :)

  21. Oh dear, this is absolutely stunning Vera! Visually beautiful and delicious. I made once years back, it was complete disaster. Very very difficult to make. Yours is just stunning.
    Cheers,
    elra

  22. absolutely delectable!!!! my first time here and i am already in love with your blog!!

  23. A winner Vera…breathtakingly beautiful. Just right for it’s name! I wouldn’t ever dare…

  24. That cake is definitely fit for a princess! Wow, it looks and sounds wonderful.

    It’s just so perfect.

  25. Thank you, everyone, for your kind comments! I’m sorry I’m responding slowly lately; my kiddo is sick and we are all tired.

    Nika, dear, thank for stopping by and leaving a comment! I’m truly touched! Glad you liked the cake :)

  26. You have the patience of a Saint to produce such a beautiful cake!

  27. I made a Swedish Princess Cake for a friend once, but it didn;t turn out nearly as beautiful as yours! You are one talented lady.

    BTW, if you don’ mind my asking, what kind of camera and lenses do you use? I’m also assuming you have lots of natural light coming from your windows? Your photography is stunning!

  28. Beautiful cake!

    Tip: If the whipped cream contains sugar it will cause the marzipan to melt. For a cake like this you probably don’t need to add sugar to the whipped cream anyway, it’s sweet enough as it is. Also, putting the cake in a cardboard box will also help protecting the marzipan from humidity when stored in a fridge.

  29. Nicisme, thank you very much! I don’t have such patience :) It’s not really required here :)

    Lisa, thank you very much! I am flattered :)
    I don’t mind at all. I use Cannon 400D; lenses usually are 50mm 1.4F and 100mm 2.6F. And you are absolutely right, the light is always daylight.

    Renate, thank you! And let me disagree with you :) The problem with the whipped cream is that it never sets as buttercream does; so it’s always moist and that is the problem.
    And, regarding the storing such cake in the fridge. The fridge is actually a dehydrator. It’s advisable not to cover the cakes wrapped in marzipan or fondant at all, until they’ve been sliced, of course.

  30. What a cute cake. It looks almost like a crown.

  31. Talk about fit for a princess. Your diagram is very helpful.

  32. Maybe you use a different kind of whipped cream in the States than we do in Scandinavia then? I agree that the consistency of the whipped cream is different from buttercrem, but after I stopped using sugar in the whipped cream I don’t experience much trouble with sweaty marzipan. Maybe you also experience more problems due to a warmer climate?

    I usually cover and decorate the cake the same day as it is eaten, but the cakes are normally just as nice the next day.

    And I just have to say it again, your cake is beautiful!

  33. Y, Cory, thank you!

    Renate, I’ll follow your advice one day. Since you’re talking from the experience, it should work. Thank you for your comment!

  34. Thank you, thank you.
    I just made the cake today for a Swedish friend turning seventy. What a triumph.
    I used a rather large deep bowl. Used twenty two eggs (from my back yard chickens). This was great fun and thank so much for your instruction.

  35. Rob, you are very welcome! I am so glad you gave it a try and succeeded! Thank you very much for the feedback, I highly appreciate it!

  36. Beautiful cake!

    How make the rose?The rose is stunning!
    I can’t do it .

  37. 薇薇, thank you. Instructions to make the rose are here — http://www.bakingobsession.com/2008/05/27/chocolate-plastic-roses/

  38. Princess cake was my favourite choice for a birthday cake when I was a kid. There was a neighborhood bakery that made it…so delicious!

  39. You are truley gifted and inspiring. I am going to attempt this feat for my Daughter’s 25th birthday this month. I had worried about the assembly but with your method I think I can do it. Thanks again for being so giving with your advice and wisdom.

  40. “Traditionally, the cake composed of three layers of génoise filled with a bit of strawberry (sometimes, raspberry) jam, pastry cream, and topped (more, than generously) with whipped cream. This quite loose construction is wrapped in pale-green marzipan (nobody knows why it’s green)”

    I’m sorry but this is wrong. You only have two quite thin layers of spongecake (or génoise) at the bottom divided by a thin strip of, most often, raspberry jam, and not strawberry jam. Then you have a layer of vanilla cream and a thicker layer of whipped cream, and then, of course, the green marzipan.

    Source: I’m Swedish and have had this cake every birthday of mine, and of my siblings.

  41. Luddle, in my traditional description I was mainly referring to chef Bo Friberg – also Swedish, a certified Master Pastry Chef with over 40 years of professional experience in the industry and a book-author who graduated from the Confectionery Association School of Sweden and holds a degree as a Master Confectioner. According to him (from his “The Professional Pastry Chef. Fundamentals of Baking and Pastry”, 4th edition), there are three thin layers of cake and strawberry jam. I could name at least a couple of other European-trained pastry chefs making their “Princess” with three layers of sponge.

    But, what I really want to say is I don’t think that neither one additional layer of sponge nor strawberry jam makes this cake “wrong”. One bakery may offer slightly different version from another, as well as every housewife may have her own little twist or trick to make it better (or so she thinks). The bottom line is it’s still the Swedish “Princess” cake if a general concept is preserved – dome-shaped, pale-green marzipan-covered, a lot of whipped cream, vanilla Bavarian cream and thin layers of spongecake with some berry jam in between.

  42. I guess, you’re right, it’s just that I’ve tried prinsesstårta at a lot of different bakeries and they’ve all looked the way I described, maybe the way you described is more traditional while the way I described is more common? The ones I’ve eaten (too many, believe me) haven’t been dome shaped either, they’ve been more flat. But didn’t mean to nitpick, your princess cake looked delicious, nonetheless!

  43. This is the most beautiful Princess Cake I have ever seen. I’m even thinking of framing the photo and hanging it in my kitchen. It is absolutely exquisite, like a dream. I also am Swedish and have had this cake as my Birthday Cake my entire life…..3 layers of cake and raspberry jam. The original recipe comes from “Prinsessornas Kokbok” (The Princesses Cookbook) and it had NO jam. But that’s old history, older than I am, we now do the JAM.
    Has anybody tried to do this cake in a bowl…upside down? (it’s really cheating, and not very professional, but works for a quick fix!!)
    Interesting note: In Sweden you get your Birthday Cake for breakfast, it’s very festive and very special.

    I am so glad I found this recipe. THANK YOU VERA.

  44. I have made the princess cake before and I love it. When I was young,
    I would visit the swedish bakery called miss mauds in perth western australia.

    I am at the moment trying to lose some weight but I will make it for someone birthday soon.

    Goood job on the cake.

  45. hello,
    your cakes ara amazing…
    i just used your marizeoan recipe..it was perfect i am so happy, as i dont like fondant! my hello kitty cake turned out nice
    i would like to know if i can translate to french your recipe to put in my blog?
    i’ll obviously put a link to your website!

    thank you….

  46. Rado, thank you!

    Sure, I don’t mind if you translate my recipes, I would be glad!

  47. My girlfriend and me were on Sweden last week and it was the national cake. It was so pretty looking that we tasted it and was even great flavor. Great!

  48. Hi!
    Can you tell me what “génoise” means?

  49. Absolutely stunning… would love to see the insides! I’d imagine it would be hard to cut, though.

  50. Your Princess cake does look beautiful and I am sure Bo Friberg would agree. As a matter of fact, my mother, Inga-Lill Larsson, hired him directly from Sweden in the 60′s as a Confectionary Pastry Chef to work at her bakery, Sweden House, in Tiburon, CA. My brother, who still lives in Sweden was the one who “found Bo” for her! I spent many hours while I was in high school helping out at the business and helping out upstairs in the bakery where Bo worked. He doesn’t mention how he started out in the US in his books, which is unfortunate since he got his start there. It would have made my 94-year old mother proud! But, to get to my point in writing in regards to the Princess cake recipe. Kirsch is traditionally not used in the Swedish recipe for the cake, maybe more so in Denmark. I just made a Princess cake for my daughter’s birthday this week and it was delicious as well.

  51. Lillemor, thank you. That’s an interesting story. I wish I would have been “found” this way one day ))

  52. Just made this recipe for my wife’s birthday.

    It was a lot of work but it was worth it. She is a Swedish Princess Cake connoisseur. The response I got, “This is the best cake I’ve ever eaten.” Home run.

    Word of warning. Not having enough room in your kitchen and the proper equipment could double your making time.

  53. Hi can you explain a bit further about the wedges. I’m having a hard time visualizing how to do this.

  54. Marilyn, you cut a cake circle into wedges as you cut a pizza. Then you fit these wedges into a round bowl with the points in the center. Hope it helps.

  55. Challenging but delicious. Maybe the greatest tasting cake in the history of everything.

  56. Comes out delicious but the way the recipe is written here it is a major hassle to create a shopping list. Ingredients are listed by each element of the cake and sometimes twice in a single element. What a pain.

  57. I baked this exact cake using this recipe a few months ago. It took me 8 hrs in the kitchen to whip everything up, and let me tell you the cake was to die for!

    However, I did make a couple of changes; I used fondant instead of almond paste and amaretto instead of kirsch.

    Great recipe and thank you for posting it!

  58. Alina, I’m glad you liked it! Thank you very much for your feedback!

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