Princess Cake / Prinsesstårta - Why is it green?
And other questions.
In a discussion of princess cake in SF, someone was wondering about the origin and why it was green. The question got to me.
There really isn't any info out there on the web about the origin of the Princess Cake or why it is usually green. And just why is it decorated with the rose? Who was the princess?
The only thing I could find was that they are the traditional Swedish wedding cake. For weddings the frosting is pink or white. It is a common dessert supposedly in every Swedish coffee shop and the color for the coffee shop version is green.
Maybe its all that snow in Sweden. People need to see SOMETHING green and with flowers.
My favorite story was the Chinese Wedding in SF which had the Swedish princess cake from Italian Victoria pastry. Fusion at its best.
The Swedish name is Prinsesstårta or Prinsessakakku, but no more info under these names either. The link below had the most info with some interesting links. Follow the 'funny green cake link' which is blog that has comments from all over and mentions the best places to find it in the US and even Sweden.
For a simple cake the recipe is from hell. I've seen some quick recipes that suggest using Cool Whip, ugh.
The book "Birthday Cakes: Recipes and Memories from Celebrated Bakers" mentions it is a cake that is served traditionally at Swedish Sweet Sixteen birthdays. It has a recipe by Gayle Ortiz that supposedly takes three days to make.
So, any more info about Swedish Princess Cakes? And most important, why the heck is it green?
The story goes that princess cake (prinsesstårta) was created by cookbook writer Jenny Åkerström for three princesses (Margaretha, Martha, Astrid) who studied at her Stockholm cooking school. Åkerström wrote Prinsessornas Kokbok (The Princesses Cookbook), popular in 1930's Sweden. I need this cookbook on my shelves to learn the original version!
Today there are several versions of the cake, variations on spongecake, custard/pastry cream, whipped cream, strawberry/raspberry preserves, covered in green/pink/white marzipan, dusted with powdered sugar, and a single marzipan rose.
Just to complicate matters there's the operatårta, a princess cake originating from a restaurant called Operakällaren, located at the Royal Opera. Different versions of this cake too, some with green marzipan, others with pink marzipan & raspberry jam.
Yes, it's quite popular for birthdays, midsummer celebrations too.
I'm not sure about the green color. I've seen similiar green marzipan covering Sicilian cakes.
I managed to obtain a copy of the Prinsessornas Kokbok in Finnish over the weekend and it appears that Åkerström had not one, but three different princess cakes, one for each of the princesses. The recipes and accompanying pictures are elaborate affairs that most home bakers likely wouldn't attempt on their own. Astrid's cake most closely resembles the version of the present princess cake though it was topped with meringue and decorated with marzipan grape leaves and halved grapes. It also featured pineapple in the filling which is consistent with the late 1920's.
This year is the centennial of Astrid's birth and I found that a woman by the name of Anikka Larson from the Grillska Konditoriet in Stockholm is the person who took the three recipes and created the princess cake as we know it. If you can read Swedish, there is a pdf with a blurb about Astrid's centennial and, presumeably, the original recipe. http://www.hembakningsradet.se/HBR35.pdf
Prinsessakakku is the Finnish name for it, not Swedish, as it's very popular here as well. :) If you read the the post you linked to, http://www.axis-of-aevil.net/archives/2005/05/may_the_cream_b.html , it has the following:
"The cake was invented/created in the 1930s by Jenny Åkerström who ran a cooking school for young ladies. She named her creation after the Swedish princesses Margaretha, Märtha and Astrid though it's not known if they enjoyed the cake or not. It appeared in Finland not long after it became popular in 1930s Sweden and has remained a traditional cake ever since, particularly for graduation and end of school year parties. The cake may also be known as the operatårta."
This doesn't answer the question of the colour but, very possibly, it was the princesses favourite colour or something. The cake can be draped in any colour marzipan you choose, but the traditional colour is green. I'm making one with blueberry jam and tinting everything with blue for a 'we need more blue foods' twist and it'll match the Moomin I decorate it with. Noone says it has to be green. :
The cake really isn't all that hard to make on only the truly masochistic make the recipe in Gayle Ortiz' food porn book.
I don't know why Prinsesstårta is green. "Prinsesstårta" is the Swedish name for the cake, all right, but "prinsessakakku" would be the Finnish name for it. A minority of people living in Finland speak Swedish as their first language and the majority speaks Finnish, but both languages are official. The Swedish-speaking citizens of Finland (Finlanders) have lots of Swedish foods and customs and I'm guessing that green princess-cake exists in Finland. Finlanders call it "prinsesstårta" and Finns call it "prinsesskakku."