May 25, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake

I love an excuse to bake. Any excuse will do, but a good excuse is the best. And when the planets align to create the perfect excuse, well, I'm over the moon.

A couple of years ago I started watching a cooking show called New Scandinavian Cooking, which featured a perky and able cook, Tina Nordstrom, who prepared meals in her portable out-of-doors kitchen every week in a different region of Sweden. On the very first episode I saw, she was preparing a meal for a Swedish midsummer celebration, and while the entire meal looked delicious, what really struck me was the dessert. It was a sponge cake, layered with strawberries and covered in whipped cream, and looked to be so light and delicious! I have been obsessing over that cake ever since, but had yet to find the right occasion for which to make it. Until this weekend.

An old and dear friend was in town for the week on his way to visit other old and dear friends in The Netherlands, and I decided to invite a few folks over for a little BBQ get-together in my backyard. On the top of the guest list was my friend Beth, who is soon to marry Niclas, who is Swedish (see where this is going?). The cake was the one and only thing I was certain I would serve.
I was a little nervous, as I'd never made a sponge cake before (traditional American butter cakes are my forte), and had no reliable go-to recipe, so I started researching. My investigation taught me that there are two basic kinds of sponge cakes: American and the somewhat drier European. As this was to be a Swedish cake, I opted for the European version, and followed the recipe in The Simple Art of Perfect Baking. For the remainder of the recipe, I followed Tina's instructions, to, I believe, delightful effect.

The cake was crazy delicious, so refreshing and light. I followed Tina's advice and assembled the cake day before the BBQ, so the custard and strawberries soaked in to the cake a bit, keeping it nicely moist. I whipped the cream and frosted the cake a couple of hours before company arrived, and topped with strawberries immediately before serving (to prevent the juice from the berries from bleeding onto the frosting, a creepy look, to say the least).

The cake was a hit, and I look forward to making it again. The rest of the food was also delicious. Peter made refrigerator pickles (so summery), pico de gallo and grilled scallions, Beth made a pasta salad that was tasty that night and even tastier the next day, Jeffrey brought the crowd pleasing sage sausage, and Laura, Amy and Paula came through on beverage patrol (wine spritzer, anyone?). It was a memorable Memorial Day weekend.


Oiyi said... Best Blogger Tips

That is my kind of cake! Strawberries, whipped cream and sponge cake, oh my!