A beautiful and unique cake with layers of sponge cake, vanilla custard and raspberry jam all covered in marzipan.
This is a princess cake, or prinsesstårta. It hails from Sweden where it’s been a national icon since the mid-1900’s, and was supposedly named after the three princesses who are said to have loved it.
And really, what’s not to love? Delicate sponge cake, custard, raspberry jam, whipped cream, and marzipan— oh my!
This cake was a favorite of my mother’s, and she’d often pick one up from the bakery for a special occasion. Once she even drove a princess cake all the way from Seattle to Salt Lake City to help celebrate the arrival of my first baby.
Today is my mother’s birthday and in a few days, the first anniversary of her sudden passing, and so I’m sharing this cake in her honor.
I actually attempted to make one for her birthday a few years ago and failed miserably. It was just one big mess of whipped cream and torn marzipan.
But this year I vowed to get it right. The recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart, but I also consulted so many other online sources. Blogs like SemiSwede and Global Table Adventure had beautiful examples and great tips, and this Swedish video tutorial was extremely helpful when it came time to put it all together. Armed with all the research I could find, I was ready to give it another go.
Traditionally the cake is covered in green fondant, but the bakery where my Mom bought her cakes leaves the marzipan un-tinted so that’s what I did too.
There are a few separate steps to this cake— baking the cake, making the custard, whipping the cream, and rolling out the marzipan— and while it does take time, all of these steps are simple and very doable for bakers of all levels.
The assembly can be a bit tricky, especially if you haven’t worked with marzipan before (I hadn’t!). But check out the links above and do your best. And if you like, simply skip the marzipan and frost the whole thing with whipped cream instead. It’ll still be delicious and elegant!
My princess cake is far from perfect, but I loved it and enjoyed it anyway. And I know my Mom would have too.
A huge thank you to all of my friends, family, and readers who have offered so much love and support over the past year. You have made this hard time a little bit better, and that means a whole lot.
baking tip:Tempering Eggs
Tempering eggs is a critical step in making a traditional custard. It slowly brings the temperature of the eggs up as they’re cooked. Heat them too quickly and you’ll end up with scrambled eggs.
How it’s done is you heat a milk mixture just until it starts steaming and tiny bubbles form at the edges, and then add it in a slow steady stream to the eggs while whisking constantly. After they are combined, you can return the mixture to the stove and continue cooking until thickened. Some eggs may still form lumps as they cook, so straining the mixture before freezing will leave your custard silky smooth.
- 1 1/4 cup ( grams) cake flour
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons ( grams) almond meal/flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 large eggs, room temperature
- 4 large egg yolks, room temperature
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted
Vanilla pastry cream:
- 2 cups (500 ml) whole milk
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar, divided
- Pinch salt
- 1 split vanilla bean, seeds scraped
- 3 large egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups (500 ml) heavy whipping cream
- 1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
To assemble cake:
- 1/2 cup ( grams) seedless raspberry jam
- 2 7-ounce packages marzipan
- Pink gel food coloring (optional)
- Green gel food coloring (optional)
- Powdered sugar, for dusting
To make the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 3 8-inch cake pans and line with parchment paper.
- Combine the cake flour, almond flour, and salt. Set aside.
- In a heat-proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water (or use a double-boiler), whisk the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar until warm to the touch and sugar is completely dissolved.
- Beat with an electric mixer on medium high until pale and doubled in volume, about 4-5 minutes. Fold in the flour mixture. Fold in the melted butter
- Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake until lightly golden on top and bounces back when lightly pressed, about 12-15 minutes. Let cool in the pan 10 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- The cake layers can be made ahead. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
To make the pastry cream:
- In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, warm the milk, 1/4 cup sugar, salt and vanilla bean seeds until barely steaming, stirring occasionally.
- In a separate bowl whisk together the egg yolks, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and cornstarch. Add warmed milk mixture in a slow steady stream while whisking constantly. Once fully incorporated, return mixture to the saucepan and set over medium high heat. Stir constantly until mixture is thickened, about 4-5 minutes. Reduce heat and cook for 1 minutes more. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla extract.
- Pass through mesh strainer to remove any cooked egg bits, then chill completely in the fridge.
- The pastry cream can be made ahead, stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.
To make the whipping Cream:
- With an electric mixer, beat whipping cream until it starts to thicken. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat to stiff peaks.
- Can be made ahead, but for best results use within 24 hours.
To assemble the cake:
- Place one cake layer on a plate or cake stand. Cover with the raspberry jam, leaving a 1 inch border around the edge.
- Top with pastry cream. If pastry cream is too thick to spread, add a little whipped cream to loosen it up.
- Top with another cake layer.
- Pile about half of the whipped cream on top, shaping it into a dome.
- Place the last cake layer on top, carefully pressing it down around the dome of whipped cream (it helps if the cake is at room temperature). The top of the cake should have a slightly domed appearance.
- Cover the entire cake with the remaining whipped cream. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.
To cover the cake with marzipan:
- Use your hands to knead the marzipan into a ball. Sprinkle a clean work surface with powdered sugar. Roll marzipan out into a large disk about 1/4 inch thick. Be careful you don't roll it too thin or it could tear. If it sticks, add more powdered sugar.
- Carefully roll the marzipan onto the rolling pin (using more powdered sugar to prevent it sticking to itself), then unroll it over the chilled cake.
- Use your hands to smooth marzipan over cake. Trim the edges of the marzipan at the base of the cake with a knife and set them aside. Dust cake liberally with powdered sugar. If desired, pipe some more whipped cream around the base to cover up any marzipan imperfections (that's what I did!).
- To make a rose for the top (optional), tint some of the marzipan trimmings with pink gel food coloring and knead with your hands until color is even. Roll into 5 marble-sized balls, then squish them flat with your fingers. Roll one disk (petal) up, then wrap the remaining petals around it, flaring them out slightly as you get to the last few. Pinch the bottoms together and then pinch off any excess. Tint more of the trimmings green, then roll out and cut into leaves. Stick leaves to rose and press gently on top of the cake.
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