Norway: Espresso and Blueberry Muffins

Flag of Norway Español: Bandera de Noruega Før...

Trivia fact of the day, Scandinavian countries drink the most coffee (per capita) in the whole world. Out of the top 6 countries (according to Wikipedia), the only other country to come close is the Netherlands – hardly a surprising inclusion. We mentioned the importance of coffee during the creation of the Icelandic Slongakuka, but today we are going for a different take, and travelling rather to the mainland of Scandinavia, Norway.

Norway muffins 1

Coming in a second place – Finland takes first – Norway consumes 9.9kg of coffee per person, per year. The coffee culture in this country is on of the most developed in the world, and is an integral part of the societal culture. This cake was designed to incorporate this important flavour, but to combine it with a fruit into a muffin that could be eaten alongside. Blueberries grow throughout Norway, and their natural affinity with coffee made them a natural option to include in the cake. The coffee flavour is very strong in this recipe, hence the title ‘espresso’. If you prefer a lighter flavour, then halve the quantity.

Norway Muffins 2

Espresso and Blueberry Muffins 

Ingredients:

  • 8oz butter
  • 8oz caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 8oz plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp instant coffee
  • 3 tbsp boiling water
  • 2 punnets of blueberries
  • 120g butter
  • 375g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp instant coffee
  • 30ml boiling water
  • White icing
  • Blue food colouring
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder.

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5 and line a 12-hole muffin tin with muffin liners. Cream together the butter and sugar, before adding in the eggs and vanilla extract. Beat in the flour and baking powder and mix well. Dissolve the coffee in the boiling water before adding to the cake mixture and beating until completely combined. Reserve 1/4 of the blueberries and gently fold the remainder into the cake mixture, trying not to break the berries. Spoon the mixture into the cases and bake in the oven for 30 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Leave to cool completely.

Whilst the cakes are cooling, make the flowers.Take a golf ball sized piece of white icing and briefly knead it, before using a few drops of blue food colouring to create a pale blue fondant. Roll it out to 3mm thick and cut out flower shapes using both a small and large cutter. Colour another golf ball sized piece of fondant brown using the cocoa powder before following the same process to cut out more flowers. These may be either used individually or stacked. Set aside to dry.

Once the muffins are cool, make the icing by beating the butter, icing sugar and coffee (again dissolving the instant coffee in the boiling water) until it is thick and fluffy. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a large star-shaped nozzle and pipe onto the top of each muffin, before decorating with the icing flowers and reserved blueberries.

Sweden: Prinsesstårta (Princess Cake)

The flag of Sweden

Happy Eurovision weekend! The Annual Eurovision Song contest is definately a love it-hate it event. We are definately in the ‘love it’ category – I have been excited about this for a while now. As the event is being held in Malmo, Sweden this year, this seemed like a perfect time to have a go at one of the more complex creations of this challenge, the Swedish Princess Cake or Prinsesstårta.

I have something to confess – as of this moment, my knowledge of Swedish cuisine is mostly gathered from IKEA. Disgusting I know. As a result, my target for this cake was to find a recipe for a cake, that couldn’t be bought in IKEA. The Princess Cake immediately caught my eye during the research period due initially to the decoration – green marzipan covering with pink roses – lovely! The next thought was ‘how do you cover a mound of whipped cream with marzipan without it sinking?’ True to form, I never forgo a challenge and the cake was chosen!

Princesstarta

The Princess Cake or Prinsesstårta was originally created in the 1930’s by Jenny Âkerström, a teacher employed by Prince Carl of Sweden and Norway. Originally called Grön Tårta (Green Cake), it was renamed due to its popularity with the Duke’s daughters. A very delicate construction, it consists of three layers of light sponge, sandwiched with creme patisserie and fruit (as shown below),  a layer of plain creme patisserie, and topped with a mound of whipped cream. Next the whole confection is covered in a layer of thin coloured marzipan and and decorated with pink marzipan roses.

Princesstarta layers

The recipe for this cake is based on one by Donal Skehan, taken from here.

Prinsesstårta (Princess Cake)

Ingredients:

For the sponge layers:

  • 4 large free range eggs
  • 170g caster sugar
  • 120g plain flour
  • butter for greasing the tin

For the Crème Patissière:

  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 450ml milk
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 6 large free range egg yolks
  • 50g cornflour
  • 50g unsalted butter, softened

For the filling and assembly:

  • 125g fresh raspberries
  • 750ml double cream, whipped to soft peaks
  • 500g marzipan (use red or pink food colouring
  • if you can’t find pink marzipan)

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 190°C and grease and line a 20cm springform cake tin with parchment paper.

Beat together the eggs and the sugar until pale and fluffy.  Sift the flour in to the bowl and fold gently into the egg mixture, until you are left with no lumps in the bowl.  Pour the mixture into the cake tin.

Bake on the middle wrack of the oven for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.  Leave the cake to cool slightly in the tin and then turn it out on to a cooling rack.  When completely cool, using a bread knife, divide the cake into three even layers.

For the crème patissière, split the vanilla pod in half and scrape out the seeds.  Add this to a medium saucepan with the milk and place over a medium high heat.  Bring to the boil and then turn off the heat.  Scoop out the vanilla pod.

While the milk is coming to the boil, place the sugar, cornflour and egg yolks in a large mixing bowl and beat with a whisk until thick and pale.  Pour the hot milk into the bowl, whisking quickly and continuously until it is smooth and incorporated.  Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and place over a medium heat beating continuously until it has thickened.

Transfer the crème pâtissière to a cold bowl, create a flat surface with the back of a spatula and wipe the top with a little butter (this will prevent a skin forming).  Cover directly with cling film and allow to cool completely.

Place one of the cake layers on a cake stand.  Use one-third of the crème pâtissière to pipe three circles around the base of the bottom layer, starting from the outside, in.  Place the raspberries inside the creme patisserie circles.  Mix a spoonful of the cream with a little of the creme patisserie and pipe over the raspberries.  Put on the next layer of cake and spread with half the remaining crème pâtissière over the top. Put the last layer of cake in place and spread the remaining crème pâtissière on top.  Spread the cream over the top and sides of the cake, creating a smooth dome shape.

In a bowl, add a drop of food colouring to the marzipan and knead it until you have an even pink colour.  Dust a clean surface with icing sugar and roll out the marzipan until it’s about 1mm in thickness.  Cover the cake with the marzipan, trimming the excess around the edges. (You can use the excess marzipan to make the little rose on top.)

Dust the cake with icing sugar and place a little marzipan rose on top.