Wednesday, July 9, 2014

National Cake of Norway

I read about this cake, which led to the discovery of Sweet Paul. And now I love him and not just for his cake. I started reading his magazine and I saw a plate with a pattern that I was immediately drawn to, which is quite a shock, since I usually only love white plates. I took a chance and wrote to the magazine to see if I could find out the manufacturer and pattern. And then SWEET PAUL WROTE ME BACK. Was I living in an alternative universe? I sure felt like it! So you see, I love Sweet Paul and I love his world where magazine/internet/cookbook superstars provide the customer service. I follow his magazine’s Facebook page and I bought his cookbook. I am hooked. (And in case you’re wondering, someone in his organization did find the information on the plate I liked. It's by PiP Studios and in their Love Bird line.)

Now, what does all of this have to do with the Good Cook Potluck Pantry Panic Challenge? Initially, nothing! I had other dishes planned for this challenge, but after reading about Sweet Paul’s cake, I hunted through the pantry and the fridge and realized I could do a version of this cake with no problem and no additional shopping. Sweet Paul reports that this cake was awarded the title of Norway’s National Cake a few years ago. It comes together quickly and it’s a conversation piece, too. I don’t think you’ve had another cake like it unless you are from Norway or are a Sweet Paul lover like me.

National Cake of Norway
by Sandra
adapted from this recipe by Sweet Paul

10 1/2 Tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 1/2 Tablespoons) butter, softened
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar, divided
1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
5 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup sliced almonds
4-8 vanilla pudding cups*

Preheat the oven to 350°F, with a rack in the middle position. I used a 13" x 9" Good Cook Nonstick Covered Cake Pan (cover removed of course!) and put a little butter on the bottom and sides and then lined it with parchment paper. Leave a little overhang, it’ll make it really easy to pull the cake right out of the pan.

Beat the butter and 2/3 cup of the sugar until light and creamy. Add the flour and baking powder and mix until well incorporated. Add the egg yolks and the milk. (Sweet Paul asks for whole milk, but I had none so I used half 0% milk and the rest half and half and it worked well. Use what you have on hand.)

Place the batter into the baking pan and smooth it out. It’s very thick, so I didn’t worry about it going to the edge of the pan as you can see in the photos.

In a large, clean bowl, beat the egg whites and the remaining 1 cup sugar to soft peaks. This will take a while. I didn’t time it, but don’t rush it. The egg mixture will become shiny and beautiful. Wait for it. Spread the egg mixture on top of the cake batter and sprinkle the almond slices on top.

Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes. You will know it’s done when the meringue is puffed and golden brown. You can’t let it go too long because your almond slices will brown too much.

Place the pan on a wire rack for an hour. The meringue will deflate a little, enough for you to cover your cake for transportation to your event. I will add some notes at the bottom of this recipe in case you are serving this cake at home.

Also take with you a bowl (I used a bowl provided from Good Cook that they do not currently sell, sorry about that! Use something similar.) that you will use to have your pudding cups alongside your cake. Your guests will be able to spoon a little or a lot of pudding on their cake. You can bring along any serving dish you like, but I took a Good Cook Flexible Chopping Mat because it is so easy to transport and clean up. At the venue, just lift the cake right out of the pan with the parchment “handles” and either carefully fold those handles under the cake or trim them off. You can cut the cake into small pieces or leave the serving size up to the guests.

Now, if you are serving this at home, I would recommend a few changes. Make and cool the cake as directed. Once cooled, cut the cake either lengthwise or crosswise in half. The way you cut it will be determined by your serving platter, so think ahead. Run an offset spatula or knife between the cake and the parchment to loosen it and then lift one piece of the cake and place it on your serving platter. With a small spatula, scrape the vanilla pudding from the containers and spread the pudding on top of the meringue of the bottom layer of the cake. If some of the pudding falls over the bottom layer, this is fine. Place the top layer of the cake, meringue-side up on the bottom later and now you have a beautiful layer cake. If you like, you can use whipped cream instead of vanilla pudding*. Or you can use both whipped cream and vanilla pudding.

Place the cake in the refrigerator, uncovered, for at least 1 hour and as much as 4 hours. Serve.

Good Cook provided me with all of the equipment noted and linked above. I really liked everything they sent and as you can see it all worked very well for this recipe!

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