This Friday is Midsummer’s Eve, which is one of the most celebrated holidays in Sweden. (It ranks right up there with christmas.) So what is really celebrated? Well, the summer solstice, and the light. As such a large part of the year is dark in especially Northern Sweden, we take every advantage of the lighter part of the year. Midsummer’s is the night to stay up all night (and it’s actually sunlight 24 hours in some parts of the country!), eating, drinking and being with family and friends.
Foodwise, most people eat sill (pickled herring) and new potatoes as a starter, washed down with plenty of snaps. There’s no traditional main course, but anything grilled is popular. Dessert, however. Oh, dessert…
Nothing beats a classic strawberry cream cake. It’s very popular as a dessert for Midsummer’s Eve. There’s no single recipe for it though – everybody makes their own versions, and I honestly suspect most of them involve store-bought cake layers and custard powder. And that’s ok too, but making it from scratch isn’t difficult and doesn’t require a lot of time either. Just plan ahead!
Strawberry Cream Cake:
-500 g strawberries, divided
-300 ml cream (full-fat), whipped with 1 tbsp sugar
For the cake layers:
200 g eggs (I use four medium-large ones)
100 g sugar
100 g flour
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Butter and line a 24 cm springform cake pan. Beat the eggs and the sugar until very very fluffy. (Carefully fold in the flour. Pour into your prepared pan, and bake for 15-20 minutes. It should look golden brown and have started to shrink away from the edges. Use a cake tester to check for doneness.
Take it out of the oven, release from the pan, place on a rack and place the springform inverted on top while it cools.
For the custard:
3 egg yolks
250 ml milk
1 vanilla bean
20 g cornstarch
60 g sugar
15 g butter
Score the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds into a saucepan. Add the milk – and the bean – and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and let the milk infuse for ten minutes. (Put a lid on top.) Meanwhile, mix the egg yolks with cornstarch and sugar. When the milk is done, remove the vanilla bean, and pour the hot milk over the egg mixture. Mix well, and pour back into the saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring CONSTANTLY. It will thicken a lot all of a sudden. Remove from heat, and quickly beat in the butter.
Move to a clean container. Cool quickly, and let it sit for at least 3-4 hours in the fridge. After that, whisk it really well so it becomes smooth and silky.
To assemble the cake:
Purée half of the strawberries, about 250 g. Slice the rest.
Cut the cake in two layers. Spread one layer with the strawberry puree, and the cut side of the second layer with the vanilla custard. (You might have a little more than you need of both puree and custard, in which case I recommend mixing them together and freezing in a popsicle mold!) Put the layers on top of each other, the fillings facing each other. (This is just to make the spreading easier – you can also just top the puree with the custard, but I find that much messier.)
Place on your cake platter. Use a little cream to smooth out the top of the cake. Transfer the rest of your whipped cream to a piping bag fitted with a large open star nozzle. Pipe straight up along the edge, finishing with a small star on top of the cake. Repeat all around. You’ll have JUST enough cream, so pipe carefully!
Decorate with the strawberries. I like to leave one whole in the middle, and place the cut berries as petals all around it.
Chill until serving. It’s best on the same day as it’s made, but you can make everything except for the whipped cream and decorations a day ahead. Just wrap well in plastic.