Three sponge cakes and a tower of whipping cream and so very many dishes to wash

I became mildly obsessed with May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge. It was a Swedish confection called the Prinsesstårta, so named because three young Swedish princesses were supposedly very fond of it. It’s composed of sponge cake, whipped cream, raspberry jam and marzipan, and the finished product is a green dome of quirky beauty.

It was somewhat delicious and completely confounding.

The sponge cake was the problem in my first effort. I’m apparently in good company with that, though; none other than Rose Levy Beranbaum has had difficulty with the genoise. I don’t think I spent enough time on the eggs, and the cake didn’t rise as much as I’d wanted it to. I tried very unsuccessfully to split the sponge cake into three layers. I ended up with two layers and a bunch of crumbs, but I forged forth anyway and made what soon became evident was not enough whipped cream to do the job.

Things were not looking promising. But did I throw the entire concoction into the trash can and call it a day? No I did not, because Rockford wouldn’t let me. So I forged forth again.

I couldn’t find marzipan anywhere around here, so I bought some almond paste and tried to make my own. It tasted pretty good and it rolled out easily, but the cake it was covering was so lumpy and sad that my finished product ended up looking like an alien brain.

Fig. DBK052013-A. The alien-brain Princess Cake.

It was ugly, but it was tasty enough that my father-in-law very subtly hinted that he’d like one for his birthday. So what did I do? I forged forth once more. This time I tried to be diligent about the eggs, but it didn’t help. The cake was flat just like its predecessor, which led me to believe it might — just might — be user error. Rather than accept a sad, flat cake again, though, I decided I’d just make another sponge cake. I used a recipe for a chocolate genoise just to shake things up a little, and between it and the other one I had plenty of layers. Then I made one million cups of stabilized whipped cream, and I constructed the cake and lo! It was glorious!

Fig. DBK052013-B. The WhippedCreamInator.

But then I made the new batch of marzipan, and it was terribly hard to work with and then it started to melt and melt and melt until it looked like the dish Lane Meyer’s mom made in “Better Off Dead”, and you know what? We ate it anyway. It didn’t have raisins, and it didn’t taste bad. I shared a piece with my Authentically Swedish Friend David and his family, and he confirmed my suspicion that it wasn’t an Authentically Swedish Cake:

The marzipan was obviously messed up. … I wasn’t crazy about the chocolate in the bottom layer, probably because there never was any in the ones I had growing up. Over all, I thought the flavor was there and it wasn’t too far from the Princess Cakes I had back in Sweden.

The recipe is super-long, so I gave it its own post at “Recipe for the traditional Swedish Prinsesstarta. For a few examples of pretty pretty princess cakes done well, see “Prinsesstårta: Swedish Princess Cake for Vale’s Birthday” at and “Princess Tortes made in a bowl” at

Korena of Korena in the Kitchen was our May Daring Bakers’ host and she delighted us with this beautiful Swedish Prinsesstårta!

6 thoughts on “Three sponge cakes and a tower of whipping cream and so very many dishes to wash”

  1. Heading to Sweden to visit my sister in 4 weeks. I will have to get her mother in law to make me one:). I will be sure to post a picture!

  2. I’m pretty sure there’s a proverb that says, “Don’t judge a cake by its lumpy green marzipan” or something like that 😉 I’ve made flat-as-a-pancake sponge cakes in the past, too, so kudos for your perseverance! Thanks for taking part in the challenge this month 🙂

  3. Even from the first attempt the texture and flavor seem to be there despite the trouble. However I know how difficult it is to spread, shape the whipped cream and on top cover with marzipan, which is the reason I skipped that tricky point and just molded and froze the whole cake. Anyway, you came really close with the last attempt while showing great determination, so well done for that!

  4. kudos for your determination and all the hard work [and dish washing] you put in 😉

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