Today is my father-in-law’s 80th birthday. He’s visiting from Sweden, and we always make a particular Swedish cake for him called Kronans Kaka or Crown Cake, which along with Princess Torte is traditional for birthdays. It’s a peculiarly delicious recipe that uses almonds and mashed potatoes in place of flour, and it has no leavening of any kind. This makes it a good, gluten-free dessert choice, and it’s also Kosher for Passover. My kids love it for its sweet, moist texture.
I’ve modified the recipe I found in The Complete Scandinavian Cookbook in several ways:
- The original recipe calls for blanching and grinding almonds, but now almond flour is available nearly everywhere, and I’ve adjusted the recipe accordingly. I prefer Bob’s Red Mill, but Trader Joe’s will do in a pinch.
- The original recipe also calls for bitter almonds, which are illegal in the United States. They’re not necessary for the cake, but if you live where they are available, I recommend using them because it gives the batter a unique tang.
- The recipe recommends topping with lemon sauce, but my father-in-law greatly prefers chocolate frosting, and I’ve included my favorite recipe below. It’s halfway between glaze and frosting because the cake tends to be friable and will crumble under stiff frosting.
- The original recipe calls for the pan to be coated in bread crumbs, but I just use a bit of almond flour to keep it gluten-free.
- Finally, the original recipe is too small! I always double it, and the ingredients list reflects this.
1-1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup softened salted butter
1-1/2 cup almond flour
6 bitter almonds, blanched and finely ground (optional)
4-5 medium potatoes, cooked, peeled, mashed, and cooled (I recommend Yukon gold)
Light and fluffy
Preheat the oven to 400 degF. Beat the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add almond flour
Beat in the butter, almond flour, bitter almonds (if available), and potatoes. Make sure you beat in the potatoes thoroughly or the batter will be lumpy.
10″ Springform pan.
Butter a mold or springform pan, coat with a little almond flour, and pour in the cake mixture. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cake is slightly browned on top and solid throughout. Beware baking too long; the cake will crack. Let cool slightly, then turn out onto a plate (if using a mold).
Frosting the cake
When completely cool, frost with orange buttercream frosting and decorate with slivered almonds and slices of orange peel. Birthday candles optional. Serves 8. Refrigerate leftovers (assuming there are any).
Orange Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 bar of Maya Gold chocolate (see below for substitutions)
1/2 cup warm milk
1 t vanilla
16 oz. powdered sugar
Place butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high in 30-second increments until chocolate is melted. Stir together. Slowly beat in powdered sugar, adding warm milk as necessary to obtain the right spreading consistency, neither stiff nor runny. Stir in vanilla.
Substitutions: Maya Gold is a deliciously spiced organic dark chocolate bar made by Green and Blacks. I can always find it at Whole Foods, and it is sometimes available in large supermarkets in the organic/natural section. If you cannot find Maya Gold, you may instead cream the butter with 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder and either add 1/4 teaspoon orange flavoring or 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest when you add the vanilla. If you want a subtler chocolate flavor, use less chocolate/cocoa; conversely, if you want a stronger chocolate flavor, use more. It’s a very forgiving recipe and easy to experiment with.
Note: This recipe makes about twice as much frosting as you will need for a Kronans Kaka. It’s an excellent excuse to make two cakes, but you can also either halve the recipe or put the excess in the refrigerator where it will keep for at least two weeks.
This cake was the perfect ending to a lovely dinner, for which I made bearnaise sauce for the first time. Tasty, but needs a little work. Once I’ve mastered it, I’ll share that recipe with you as well.
The finished cake and happy recipient (plus photobombing from my daughter). Bow ties are cool!
Labor Day weekend was a never ending festival of potlucks. We went to three potlucks in two days! The first was at a board games party I helped run, and I invited several of my daughter’s friends over to make gaming munchies. They chose to make 20-sided dice cookies and rulebook s’mores from the Nerdy Nummies cookbook by Rosanna Pansino, and that was a big hit at the party (I also made Swedish meatballs with cream sauce, see last week’s recipe). For the Labor day brunch, I made a nice frittata with green onions, garlic scapes, king oyster mushrooms, zucchini, spinach, potatoes, eggs, manchego cheese and red peppers on top. For the Labor Day barbeque, I brought marinated beef kabobs and veggie kabobs, yum.
But out of all these, someone asked me for the recipe for a loaf of whole wheat bread I brought to the brunch. I make bread all the time. I’ve made seven loaves of bread in the past five days. We’ve had a lot of kids over, since school hadn’t started yet, and they just inhaled all that bread with butter and jam and Nutella. I brought two loaves of white bread to the gaming party with some funky pumpkin seed butter and Nutella-ish dark chocolate sunflower seed butter, and those also disappeared right quick. But I’m trying to make healthier breads for my family, and this particular recipe is a hit. I found it in my favorite bread-making book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoe Francois, and they in turn had modified the recipe from one by Chris Kimball which appeared in Cook’s Magazine in turn, and in that tradition, I modified it a bit as well. So, Andrew, here’s the recipe. Enjoy!
Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
Makes two loaves in 9x4x3″ loaf pans
3 cups lukewarm water
1-1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (2 packets)
1-1/2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup rye flour
1/2 cup wheat gluten
3 cups white whole wheat flour
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Neutral-tasting oil for greasing the pans (I use canola spray)
Mix the yeast, salt, honey, and butter with the water in a 5-quart bowl. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients without kneading, using a spoon, a 14-cup capacity food processor (with dough attachment), or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with dough hook – I use one of these). if you’re not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last of the flour. Alternatively, if you live in a moist climate or are baking on a rainy day, you may need to add extra flour. If you add a cup or more of extra flour, add another 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of salt. The dough should be firm and smooth, pulling away from the wall of the bowl, but not dry.
Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses, approximately 2 hours. You can refrigerate the dough and use it later, but who has the patience for that??? Assuming you’re planning ahead for a meal, you can store the dough in the fridge, lidded but not airtight, for up to 5 days.
Lightly grease the loaf pans. Dust the surface of the dough with flour and cut it in half. Gluten-cloak each loaf by shaping it into a ball and stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball one-quarter turn as you go. Form it into an elongated loaf, lay it in the loaf pan, repeat with the remaining dough, and let rise for 40 minutes. (If you refrigerated the dough, you’ll need to let the dough rise for 1 hour 40 minutes.) Meanwhile, about 20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 400 degF.
Place the loaves on a center rack in the oven. If you want crustier bread, add a broiler tray and pour 1 cup of hot water into it. If you want a softer crust, as my kids prefer, brush the tops of the loaves with melted butter before putting them in the oven and after they are done baking. Bake for about 50 minutes or until browned and a bit hollow-sounding when you knock on them.
Here’s the hardest part: allow to cool before slicing or eating. 😉 Enjoy!