Strawberry cake and the taste of Swedish summer
If you want to know what Swedish summer tastes like, look no further than Swedish strawberry cake. For many Swedes, this cake is essential to midsummer and birthday celebrations.
Every year, in the days leading up to midsummer, the cost of strawberries tends to skyrocket in Sweden. This is because Swedes have to eat strawberries and, more specifically, strawberry cake on midsummer’s eve – no matter what the cost.
An authentic Swedish strawberry cake is as simple as it is spectacular. It is essentially a regular sponge cake filled with vanilla cream on the first layer, strawberry jam on the second and then smothered in whipped cream and strawberries. Once finished, the strawberry cake is a sight to behold in all its red and white glory – colourful, decadent, and absolutely mouth-wateringly delicious.
Midsummers is one of Sweden’s most beloved holidays and ever since pagan times Swedes have celebrated the longest day of the year, around the time of the summer solstice. Since the 1950s we have, for practical reasons, celebrated Midsummer on Midsummer Eve, which is always on a Friday between June 19 and June 25. Photo: Lena Granefelt/imagebank.sweden.se
Strawberry cake for midsummer and birthdays
Although strawberry cake is most commonly associated with midsummer, it is also a popular cake to serve on birthdays, especially at children’s birthday parties. However, adults may have other preferences, some of which are as follows:
Swedish princess cake
When it comes to birthday traditions, the Swedes are divided. While some prefer strawberry cake, others will say the only way to celebrate a birthday is with princess cake. Princess cake is essentially a layered sponge cake filled with custard, cream and raspberry jam but what makes it truly remarkable is that it is draped with a bright green layer of marzipan. A feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds!
“Fika” - The Swedish coffee hour, or fika break, is a combination of coffee and chatting. It has made Sweden into one of the world’s premier coffee-drinking nation. In many workplaces there is a special coffee room, and all are expected to attend the common coffee breaks, one or two times each day. Photo: Jakob Fridholm/imagebank.sweden.se
Chocolate mud cake (kladdkaka)
Literally translated as sticky cake, or even messy or smudgy cake, kladdkaka tastes a lot better than it sounds. This dense, sticky chocolate mud cake is like a Swedish version of a brownie. It gets its soft, gooey centre from not being baked all the way through, which is also what makes it so uncommonly tasty. Serve with whipped cream and raspberries and don’t be shy about going back for seconds.
A traditional kladdkaka is a Swedish take on mud cake or brownies. It is a delicious, rich chocolate cake which is easy to bake and can be found in most Swedish cafés. Photo: Magnus Carlsson/imagebank.sweden.se
Named after Napoleon Bonaparte, it will come as no surprise that this classic Swedish pastry is based on a French recipe. It is essentially no different to a French mille-feuille vanilla slice, or a British custard slice, in the sense that it is full of cream and custard and smothered in fresh strawberries or strawberry jam. What is different, however, is the Napoleon pastry has been awarded its very own day in the Swedish calendar, 17 November.
A Swedish 'fika' with a variety sweets. Fika is however much more than having a coffee and a bite to eat - it is an important social event, where you get the opportunity to recharge and share a moment with friends, or just yourself. Photo: Tina Stafrén/imagebank.sweden.se