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.