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MIDSUMMER

Recipe: How to make a Swedish strawberry cream cake

Whether served on Midsummer or just as a tasty summer dessert in general, this strawberry cream cake is a classic. Swedish food writer John Duxbury shares his recipe.

Recipe: How to make a Swedish strawberry cream cake
Strawberry cream cake is a Swedish favourite. Photo: John Duxbury/Swedish Food

Strawberries are one of the most popular fruits in Sweden and Swedes believe they are the best in the world. The cold climate and the long summer days are said to pack in extra sweetness and flavour.

This cake is a midsummer classic. A glorious cream cake filled with fresh strawberries and served with more strawberries on the side. It is one of the highlights of summer in Sweden! There is no single recipe for the cake, but it always involved at least two layers, custard and lots of strawberries and cream! The cake base can be cooked in advance, leaving decoration to the last minute. If you are in a rush you can use a good quality shop-bought vanilla custard instead.

Summary

Serves: 12

Preparation: 20 minutes

Cooking: 40 minutes

Total: 60 minutes

Ingredients

Cake

4 eggs

200g (0.9 cups) caster sugar

50g (0.4 cups) plain white flour

80g (0.4 cups) potato flour

2 tsp baking powder

breadcrumbs for the cake tin

Filling

1 egg yolk

1 tbsp icing sugar

1/4 tsp vanilla essence

150ml (3/4 cup) whipping cream

250g (8 oz) strawberries

Decoration

250ml (1 cup) whipping cream

250g (8 oz) strawberries

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 175C (350F, Gas 4, Fan 160C).

2. Generously grease a 23cm (9in) round cake tin and coat with breadcrumbs.

3. Beat the eggs and sugar until light, creamy and airy.

4. Mix the flours and baking powder, then fold into the mixture.

5. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake on the lowest rung for approximately 35-40 minutes, until an inserted skewer comes out clean and the cake is just beginning to come away from the sides of the tin.

6. After two or three minutes, turn the cake out on to a wire rack. Let the cake cool completely.

7. When cold, cut the cake in half horizontally.

8. Make the filling (called vanilla whip) by whisking the egg yolk, one tablespoon of icing sugar and vanilla extract together until thick and creamy (about one to two minutes when whisked by hand).

9. Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks and then gently fold it into the egg and sugar mixture. Spread it over the bottom cake layer.

10. Crush the sliced strawberries lightly with a spatula or a flat side of a knife and place them on top of the vanilla whip. Place the other cake layer on top.

11. Whip the cream for decorating until fairly stiff and spread over the top and sides of the cake. Decorate with strawberries.

12. Serve with lots of extra fresh strawberries and enjoy.

Tips

– Use a non-stick spring form cake tin if you have one. It makes it so much easier to remove the cake from the tin without breaking it.

Recipe courtesy of John Duxbury, editor and founder of Swedish Food.

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MIDSUMMER

The essential dishes for Swedish Midsummer

Midsummer is the most Swedish of Swedish holidays, widely considered to be the real National Day to celebrate all things Swedish. So, what are the essentials for a Midsummer celebration?

The essential dishes for Swedish Midsummer

Traditional Midsummer fare is served buffet-style, similar to the food served at Christmas or Easter, with a focus on summer crops such as new potatoes, radishes and strawberries, rather than winter vegetables like cabbage and kale. 

Midsummer is always celebrated on the Friday closest to the summer solstice, which falls on June 24th this year. It’s not technically a public holiday so you may be in work, but lots of employers will give their staff a half or full day off anyway.

Here’s what you’re likely to see at a Midsummer celebration, as well as how you can make it yourself.

Matjes-style herring served with crispbread, boiled new potatoes with dill, cheese and diced onions. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

Herring

It wouldn’t be a proper Swedish celebration without pickled herring or sill. In many families, one member of the family (often a grandmother) is tasked with preparing sill for the Midsummer meal weeks in advance.

If you’re based in Sweden, you can buy herring in the supermarket, although most will say that homemade pickled herring is superior. Vegetarian or vegan pickled herring substitutes such as svill (made from mushrooms) and tofusill (made from tofu) are also commercially available.

If you are planning on making your own pickled herring for Midsummer, you have a few options. Either you can buy ready-salted herring fillets in the supermarket which can be pickled straight away, or you will have to buy fresh herring fillets which you salt yourself – the latter option can take up to two weeks though, so you’ll have to save that for next year if you want to try doing it yourself.

You can also make your own vegetarian options: try pickling auberginecourgette or tofu. Most recipes will take at least two days, with the herring or alternative of choice needing to marinate overnight before serving, so get planning now if you want to have it on the table for Friday.

Here are a selection of pickled herring recipes from John Duxbury’s Swedish Food website.

Herring is usually served alongside bread or crispbread, cheese and butter, referred to as an S.O.S. (sill, ost och smör), so make sure you pick up some bread and hard mature cheese such as västerbottensost if you want to recreate this dish.

Summer crops

Some early varieties of potato are ready just in time for Midsummer, making them a feature on the Midsummer table. New potatoes, färskpotatis (“fresh potatoes”) in Swedish, are delicious by themselves, so you’ll often see them just served boiled, cooled, and sprinkled with dill.

Radishes are also a popular feature on the Midsummer table as they are ready at this time of year, although it can be difficult to find Swedish radishes in the shops. They’re often served raw, perhaps with a dip of sour cream or gräddfil on the side.

Finally on the summer crops front, strawberries are the crowning glory of the Midsummer table, with pundits closely monitoring the harvest in the weeks leading up to the holiday. Strawberries and cream are a classic combination, either served as-is or in some sort of strawberry tart or cake.

Strawberries are the crowning glory of the Midsummer buffet. Photo: Carolina Romare/imagebank.sweden.se

Salmon

Most Midsummer buffets will feature at least two sorts of salmon, one is often a baked side of salmon. Along with baked salmon, you’re likely to find smoked salmon and/or gravad lax (literally “buried salmon”, preserved in salt, sugar and often dill) alongside hovmästarsås, a mustard and dill sauce which is also served at Christmas.

If you don’t eat fish, you can make a vegetarian or vegan version of gravad lax from carrots. This is usually referred to as gravad morot. Here’s a recipe (in Swedish) from the book Vegansk husmanskost by Gustav Johansson. Again, it needs to be marinated overnight, so make sure to plan this in advance.

Eggs

Although not quite as important at Midsummer as they are at Easter, eggs are another mainstay of a Midsummer buffet.

You’ll often see them served simply hardboiled and cut in half, or potentially topped with mayonnaise, prawns and cod roe, known as kaviar in Swedish. This is sold in small glass jars in the fridge section of the supermarket, and can be orange or black – and is not the same as Kalles kaviar, sold in blue tubes, which is much saltier.

To make these vegetarian, you can leave out the prawns and use a vegetarian version of kaviar made from seaweed. Look for tångkaviar, which may be in the fish section of the supermarket, or the vegetarian section, if your supermarket has one of these.

If you live outside Sweden, you may be able to source tångkaviar in the food market at your local Ikea.

For a vegan option, try sliced tofu topped with vegan mayonnaise (spiked with black salt, if you can get hold of it, which will give it an eggy flavour). Top with tångkaviar and a sprig of dill and you’re good to go.

Make sure to brush up on your snapsvisor if you want to fit in at Midsummer. Photo: Janus Langhorn/imagebank.sweden.se

Snaps

Finally, don’t forget the snaps. Midsummer is the booziest holiday of the year, with Swedes taking breaks throughout the meal to drink nubbar (small bottles of flavoured snaps or akvavit) and sing snapsvisor (drinking songs).

Make sure you eat a lot of food to soak up all that alcohol, and you’re certain to have a great Midsummer – maybe grab a couple of frozen pizzas for the next day, though, when you’re busy nursing your hangover.

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