The princess torte has been on my bucket list for some time now so I was tickled pink (notice my non traditional color) when I found what or Baker’s Challenge this month was . Our very talent host this month is Korena, of Korena in the Kitchen, and she chose the Swedish Prinsesstårta for us. Exciting, exciting, exciting… It has lovely layers of sponge cake, jam, pastry cream and fluffy whipped cream all covered in a layer of marzipan. Is there anything not to like about this??? Oh, I guess that it doesn’t hurt that this cake is so damn pretty look at you almost don’t want to eat it. This is traditional covered in a green colored marzipan but I thought the pink reflect so much better with my flavor choices. The sponge cake is flavored with raspberries, the jam is rhubarb-raspberry, and the whipped cream is infused with rosewater. Everything pink for a princess. It is also supposed to be topped with a marzipan rose for decoration but I love to make gumpaste flowers so I chose to do this instead. Please check out Korena’s tutorial on the marzipan rose.
The best part about this is that it is actually” kind of” easy to put together. The real challenge here is covering the cake with marzipan. If you have never covered a cake with this or fondant it can seem scary, but that should not hold you back from trying. It just takes a little practice. I bet this would be amazing assembled as a trifle if you too afraid of trying to cover the cake – but try it at least. Once you get the hang of it you will want to cover everything you bake. Well, maybe not, but you will be glad you know how to do this and it will impress your guests. Hey did you know that the princess torte is as popular in Finland as well as Sweden – so much so that the third week in September is officially Prinsesstårta Week. Oh, the things we learn….
So, it’s best to break this cake down into components so that when you are ready to assemble everything is ready to go. First is the marzipan covering the cake. Marzipan is a sort of sweeter version of almond paste. Almond paste is made with granulated sugar and marzipan is made with confectioners sugar (a lot of it). You can buy marzipan but it is pretty expensive and it’s easy to make your own if you have a food processor. You can make it well ahead of time and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to use it. You could even use fondant if almond allergies are an issue. Next is the custard; again,you make it up to 2 days in advance. The sponge cake can be baked the day ahead and that really just leaves the whipped cream, which should be made at time of assembly. Oh wait, and the jam. Any store-bought jam can be used though traditionally it is seedless raspberry jam. BUT, since rhubarb season is in full swing here (at least in my backyard) , I made my own rhubarb-raspberry spread. This allows me to control the sugar since I like my jam on the tart side and it only takes about 30 minutes to make. You just put fruit and some sugar in a pot and let it bubble away until soft. If it is too thin I will make a slurry of cornstarch and water and add a little bit to thicken it up.
I also stabilized the whipped cream. This is done by adding some dissolved gelatin to the cream and will keep your whipped cream good and sturdy for a few days. I highly recommend doing this step but it’s your choice.
I know this seems like a lot, but challenge yourself. It will be easier than you think. Read through the entire recipe (twice) before starting. Bake On!
Egg-free Marzipan Recipe
(adapted from Cake Central)
4 oz (115 gm) ground almonds
8 oz (225 gm) icing sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) corn syrup
3/4 teaspoon (5 ml) almond extract
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice or water
Place the ground almonds and icing sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine and break up any lumps. Add the corn syrup and almond extract and pulse again to combine. The mixture should be quite dry and crumbly still.
With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in the lemon juice, stopping as soon as the mixture starts to clump together.Scrape the marzipan out onto a work surface and knead it into a ball. Wrap in plastic and chill overnight in the refrigerator to let the flavours ripen. Makes just over 1 lb.
1 cup (240ml) heavy cream, divided (I used 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1/2 cup whole milk)
4 egg yolks from large eggs
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) cornstarch
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (30 gm) (1 oz) granulated white sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (or 2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract)
In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, sugar, and egg yolks. Gradually whisk in ½ cup (120 ml) of heavy cream until smooth. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the remaining ½ cup (120 ml) of heavy cream and the scraped vanilla bean and bring just to the boiling point. Remove the vanilla bean pod, leaving behind the seeds. Slowly whisk the hot cream into the bowl with the egg mixture to temper the eggs. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until it becomes thick like pudding and just comes to a boil. The mixture must hit a boil for the cornstarch to properly thicken the custard, and also to cook out any starchy taste. If it starts to look curdled or lumpy, remove it from the heat and whisk vigorously until smooth, then return to the heat. As soon as it comes to a boil, remove it from the heat. If using vanilla extract, add it now. Strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the top of the custard (to prevent a skin from forming ) and chill completely.
Fine dry breadcrumbs for the pan (such as crushed panko) I did not have any breadcrumbs on hand so I used finely crushed rice krispies – they worked great!
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) granulated white sugar
½ cup (120 ml) (70 gm) (2½ oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
½ cup (120 ml) (65 gm) (2¼ oz) potato starch (or cornstarch, which is what I used)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) baking powder 1/8 teaspoon salt
For a raspberry version:
I added 4 Tablespoons raspberry puree and 1 tsp natural raspberry extract . To compensate for the additional liquid I added 1 Tablespoon potato flour (which is not the same as potato starch)
1. Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with a rack in the lower third of the oven. Thoroughly butter a 9” (23 cm) round springform pan, line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper, then butter the paper. Dust the buttered pan with enough breadcrumbs (or rice krispies!) to coat the bottom and sides, just like flouring a cake pan. Set aside. This gives the batter something to cling to as it rises during baking.
Place the eggs and granulated white sugar in a mixing bowl and beat on medium-high speed with an electric mixer or stand mixer with whisk attachment until the eggs are tripled in volume and very light coloured and fluffy, about 5 minutes. The mixture should fall from the beaters in thick ribbons. Don’t overbeat the eggs – once they form thick ribbons and stop growing in volume, stop beating.
Sift the all-purpose (plain) flour, potato starch (or cornstarch) , baking powder, and salt into a bowl, then sift the flour mixture over the whipped eggs. With a balloon whisk, fold the flour into the eggs until blended, keeping as much air in the batter as possible. Use large, gentle yet confident strokes, bringing batter from the bottom of the bowl to the top. Add the puree and extract, if using. Once mixed, the batter should be quite thick and smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spread it out evenly, and bake in the lower third of the preheated moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 oven for about 40 minutes or until golden brown on top, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Let the cake cool in the pan for a few minutes then run a knife around the edge and remove the sides of the springform pan. Don’t worry if it sinks a bit in the middle. Invert the cake onto a cooling rack and peel off the parchment paper. If the cake is lopsided, press gently to make it level, then allow it to cool completely before continuing. The cake can be made a day ahead and stored, well-wrapped in plastic, at a cool room temperature.
- 2 cups (480 ml) heavy cream, chilled
2 Tablespoons rosewater (if you want rose whipped cream)
granulated white sugar, to taste (scant 1 tablespoon is plenty)
- Sponge Cake, cooled
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) seedless raspberry jam (or regular jam pressed through a sieve to remove seeds)
- Vanilla Custard, chilled
- Marzipan Covering and Rose Icing sugar, for rolling and dusting
Optional: melted chocolate, royal icing, or piping gel (for decorating)
In a large bowl, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add sugar to taste (keep in mind that the rest of the cake components are sweet, so the whipped cream should be very lightly sweetened at most) and continue whipping the cream until stiff. Stabilize it with the gelatin if desired. You want it to be sturdy enough to provide structure to the cake, but not over-whipped enough to make butter. Set the whipped cream aside.
With a long serrated knife, slice the sponge cake into three even layers. This cake is very delicate, so do this as carefully as possible. Use a gentle sawing motion to move the knife through the cake instead of trying to pull it through the cake. Use a spatula to help you lift off each layer after you cut it. Set aside the middle layer – this will become the top layer of the assembled cake as it is the most flexible and therefore easiest to bend into a dome over the whipped cream.
Place one of remaining layers on a cake board or serving platter and spread it evenly with the jam. Spread or pipe half the chilled custard over the jam in an even layer, leaving enough room around the edges so that it doesn’t spill over the sides of the cake. Top the custard with another layer of cake. Spread or pipe the remaining custard evenly over it, again leaving some room around the edges. Reserve ½ cup (120 ml) of the stiffly whipped cream. Pile the rest into a mound on top of the custard. Spread it into a thick layer with a thin, flexible spatula or off-set spatula, then hold the spatula at an angle to shape the whipped cream into a dome, piling it up in the middle of the cake as much as possible. Place the final layer of sponge cake (the one cut from the middle of the cake) on top of the whipped cream. Do not press on the top of the cake – instead, gently tuck the edges of the cake layer into the whipped cream, so that they are flush with the cream. This will create a smooth, seamless dome on top of the cake. Gently spread the reserved ½ cup (120 ml) of whipped cream over the entire cake to fill in any cracks and even out the surface. If necessary, refrigerate the cake to firm it up before continuing ( I did this for an hour before moving on).
Dust your work surface with icing sugar and press the marzipan into a 6-inch (15 cm) disc (knead it a bit to warm it up first). Coat both sides with icing sugar and roll it out into a 14” (35½ cm) diameter circle less than 1/8” (3 mm) thick. Use plenty of icing sugar to prevent it from sticking. Alternatively, you can roll the marzipan out between two wide sheets of parchment paper (still use plenty of icing sugar).
Use the rolling pin to drape the rolled-out marzipan sheet over the cake and smooth it around the cake gently with your hands.If it seems like it wants to fold or buckle around the cake, gently lift and stretch it away from the cake with one hand while smoothing it down with the other.
Trim the excess marzipan from the bottom of the cake with a paring knife or spatula blade. Dust the cake with icing sugar, then place the marzipan rose and leaves in the middle of the cake.
(You can also use melted chocolate, royal icing, or piping gel to pipe a design on top of the cake, if you wish.)
To serve, cut the cake into wedges with a large, sharp knife (run the blade under hot water and wipe it clean after every cut for neater slices). The cake can be served immediately but will be easier to slice after chilling in the refrigerator for at least an hour.The finished Prinsesstårta should be refrigerated until serving, and any leftovers refrigerated as well. Ideally the cake is eaten the day it is made, but will keep in the refrigerator for a day or so, after which it may lose its structural integrity and aesthetic appeal,but it will still taste good. If you stabilize your cream it will be picture perfect for at least 3 days.
Here is a cross-section diagram to illustrate the layered components of a prinsesstårta:
- Marzipan (top)
- Sponge cake
- Whipped cream
- Custard/pastry cream
- Sponge cake
- Custard/pastry cream
- Raspberry jam
- Sponge cake (bottom)
- Hallonprinsesstårta, or raspberry prinsesstårta, made with custard, whipped cream flavoured with raspberry jam, whole raspberries, and topped with pink marzipan
- Karl-Gustav tårta, made with custard, sliced banana, a chocolate-covered meringue disc replacing the middle layer of cake, and covered with yellow marzipan
- Williamtårta, made with custard, poached pear, whipped cream, topped with marzipan, covered with a shiny chocolate glaze, and garnished with toasted sliced almonds
Thanks Korena for such a great challenge!!
I forget to mention how perfect this worked out for my monthly dinner club. Since I wanted to make this for when I had company over I decided to have a Swedish theme. On the menu:
Swedish meatballs (of course) , handmade egg noodles, boiled potatoes with dill, cucumber salad, and roasted beets and apples.