King Haakon’s Cake

This cake recipe caught my attention as I was reading through my cookbooks. It seems that about half of the dessert recipes in Scandinavia involve almonds or almond paste in some way. I love almonds, so I’m certainly not complaining! King Haakon’s Cake (Konge Haakon’s Kake) is a Norwegian recipe named after one (or all) of a long line of kings who went by that name. It is a dense yellow cake (actually I’m not sure it’s SUPPOSED to be dense, but it did turn out that way), cut into three layers.  The first two layers are topped with chocolate filling, and the third is topped with a circle of almond paste that is rolled into a circle to match the cake.  Whipped cream is then spread on the sides of the cake. The flavor surprisingly reminded me of a Boston Creme pie, even though the filling and frosting are reversed.

I took this cake to a holiday party of the International Festival committee & board members, which was a lot of fun! About 20 people gathered to share an international potluck meal and celebrate the success of this year’s International Festival of Raleigh. I think I’m going to enjoy being a part of this group, as our cooking demonstration committee has agreed to stay on for the 2011 festival!

King Haakon’s Cake
Cake:
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup sugar
6 eggs, separated
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. milk

For the cake, spray a 10-inch springform pan with cooking spray and dust with flour. Cream together the butter and sugar for about 4 minutes until fluffy. Add the egg yolks and mix well. Sift together the flour and baking powder and add alternately with the milk, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary and ending with flour. Beat the egg whites in a clean bowl until stiff. Gently fold half the whites into the batter, then finish with the rest. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool. In my case, the cake rose very well, and then deflated while cooling, so don’t be alarmed if this happened. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to do that or not, but the end product tasted ok! :)

Chocolate filling:
1 c. heavy whipping cream
2 tsp. cornstarch
3 Tbsp. sugar
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3 egg yolks

Mix together the cream, cornstarch and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat to almost boiling and then remove from heat and add chopped chocolate. Wait for a few minutes and then whisk until smooth and chocolate is fully melted. Beat the egg yolks in a bowl and gradually add part of the chocolate mixture, while continuing to whisk. Then add the egg mixture back to the rest of the melted chocolate and stir well. Cook and stir over low heat for about 1 minute until it thickens up. Remove from the heat, cover with saran wrap and chill. You may need to warm it up a bit before spreading when you assemble the cake.

Almond paste:
1 c. sliced almonds
2/3 c. powdered sugar
1 egg white

Put the almonds in a food processor and grind them finely. Add powdered sugar to mix well, then add the egg white. It will be very sticky. Spread out the almond paste between two layers of saran wrap to be about 10 inches in diameter (matching the top of the cake). Lay flat on a plate in the refrigerator to chill.

Whipped cream:
1 c. heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Whip cream, sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form.

Assembly:
Cut the cooled cake into three equal layers. On the first two layers, divide the chocolate filling and spread evenly. Stack those layers. Add the third layer and top it with the circle of almond paste. Spread whipped cream on the sides of the cake. Keep refrigerated until about 20-30 minutes before you’re ready to serve the cake.

Adapted from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book

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