I am told that Scandinavian countries don’t have a tradition of afternoon tea but they still have an incredible array of recipes for breads, pastries and cakes. I, for one, can close my eyes and certainly visualise rye bread open sandwiches filled with smoked salmon and sweet mustard, followed by freshly made cinnamon buns and slices of sponge cake filled with lingonberry jam. It’s such a pity that I am unaware of any establishments in Northamptonshire that can satisfy my Nordic tea-table dreams - and I just don’t think that Ikea in Milton Keynes will do!
So, I had to make my own Swedish treat and, after a little research, discovered that one of the major flavours in this part of the world is cardamom but all sorts of fruits and nuts and spices are used and almonds are a favourite. I would love to try, one day, to make the famous Princess cake with alternating layers of sponge, whipped cream and vanilla custard topped with marzipan but for today decided upon attempting a much simpler “Toscakaka” – a light cake with a yummy praline topping.
The result was amazing and ridiculously moreish – in fact it tasted even better the next day when the caramel topping had seeped into the sponge. This is one that will firmly remain a family favourite.
|Toscakaka - Swedish caramel almond cake|
There are many recipes on the internet but I used the following one, having adapted it slightly.
For the cake: 70ml milk 1 tsp lemon juice 75g unsalted butter 3 eggs 150g caster sugar 1 tsp vanilla extract (or paste, powder or seeds from pod) 150g plain flour 1 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
For the topping: 150g flaked almonds 125g butter 125g light brown sugar 50ml milk 1/2 tsp sea salt 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 160C/320F. Grease a deep 9" round tin (preferably with a removable bottom) and line the bottom with baking parchment.
Stir the lemon juice into the milk and leave to sit to make buttermilk (you can replace with 75ml if you have it on hand).
Toast the almond flakes on an oven tray for 5-7 minutes until they're a light golden brown, then set aside.
Melt the butter in a saucepan then pour into a bowl and leave to cool (keep the pan to use later).
Whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla together for 5 minutes, until the mixture is a yellowy-cream colour and very thick. Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt together.
Place 1/3rd of the flour mixture into the egg bowl then gently fold in with a big metal spoon or large spatula. Drizzle half of the milk over the top and fold in. Repeat with the next 1/3rd of flour, the rest of the milk, then the rest of the flour. Finally drizzle half of the butter over the top, fold in, then repeat with the remaining butter. Be gentle but thorough, scraping the bottom - it's easy to get little pockets of flour.
Carefully transfer to the tin. Tap on the counter once to remove any big air bubbles. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and set - when 15 minutes have gone, start making the topping. Place the toasted almonds, butter, sugar, milk, salt and vanilla into the saucepan and stir as the butter melts. Keep heating for a few minutes - it should bubble and thicken slightly.
Turn the oven up to 200C/390F, then remove the cake to a rack and pour the glaze over the top. Spread the almonds out into an even layer. Place back in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes until the glaze is dark brown and bubbling. Cool for a few minutes then slide a knife around the edge of the tin to loosen it and remove the cake to a rack.
It keeps well in an airtight tin for two days and is still alright on the third. (Makes about 8-10 slices).