Swedish word of the day: smörgåstårta

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards - [email protected]
Swedish word of the day: smörgåstårta
Yuck or yum? Image: nito103/Depositphotos"

Here's a word to describe a Swedish food that may, on first glance, sound quite bizarre: smörgåstårta.


Smörgås means 'sandwich' (although perhaps not quite the way you think of a sandwich, as we've discussed in a previous Word of the Day), while tårta means cake (generally a soft, large cake for sharing, as explained here).

A smörgåstårta, then, is a 'sandwich cake'.

Photo: Leif R Jansson/ SCANPIX/TT

And yes, it's pretty much exactly what it sounds like.

Sandwich ingredients, layered and decorated just like a dessert cake, except it's cold, savoury and often fishy.

To build a smörgåstårta, you layer up white or rye bread with savoury creamy fillings such as pâté, cream cheese or mayonnaise. Additional typical smörgås toppings such as cold meats, cheese, fish, and vegetables can be added into the mix too.

The finished product is decorated with more creamy toppings and garnishes that may include shrimps, tomatoes, cucumber or herbs, for example.


Photo: Jonas Ekströmer / TT

The smörgåstårta is served at special occasions such as parties or an office fika, when it's cut into slices like a cake. The big advantage is that it can be prepared or ordered in advance, making it a simpler choice for hosts than hot food.

But it doesn't usually make an appearance at national celebrations such as Midsummer or Christmas, when buffet-style food is the normal choice.

The first recorded reference to smörgåstårta was in a Småland newspaper in 1934, and it appears to have grown in popularity after the Second World War, possibly due to the free availability of ingredients such as butter and cheese after rationing ended.

In 2012, November 13th was chosen as the official Smörgastårta Day, following in the Swedish tradition of giving beloved national foods their own day of celebration. The day was popularized by the group Smörgåstårtans Vänner (literally Friends of the Sandwich Cake), which counts over 1,000 members nationwide.

So, happy sandwich cake day one and all!


Mums, smörgåstårta med lax och räkor!

Yum, sandwich cake with salmon and prawns!

Jag vill beställa tre smörgåstårtor till min födelsedagsfest

I want to order three sandwich cakes for my birthday party

Do you have a favourite Swedish word you would like to nominate for our word of the day series? Get in touch by email or if you are a Member of The Local, log in to comment below.






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