Sponge cake is not a direct translation for the Finnish sokerikakku, but it’s one of the best I could come up with. Now I’m not one for writing tutorials. I’m actually really lousy at tutorials, because I often wing it.. I usually follow recipes and instructions to some extent, but more than often, I will also improvise. This said, sorry, no tutorial. But I will share a recipe and some pointers that you may find useful.
There’s no debating taste. We all have our own personal preferences, but culture does lead us somewhat. Geographical location, traditions and culture have a lot of say in our eating habits. The basic ingredients we use are dictated by our taste preferences. Scandinavians tend to prefer whipped cream on cakes. Buttercream is simply too rich for our taste buds. We also like our cakes filled with fresh berries and fruits, and prefer natural flavors. We have a sweet tooth, but in moderation.
Cake for celebrations
A layer cake is a must have for birthday parties and celebrations. During the summer, I think the most traditional layer cake in Finland is a whipped cream strawberry cake. We don’t do smash cakes, it’s just not for us. Nor do we understand smearing cake in each others faces. But this is a cultural thing, a tradition that we may frown upon is a highlight in many other cultures. And I’m sure it goes both ways, not everyone understands Scandinavians sitting naked in the sauna together.. So no judgement, do as you like! Anyhow, a layer cake can be found at 99% of celebrations in Finland. As said, there’s no exact translation for the cake base I like to use, sponge cake comes quite close, but there’s no butter in the batter.
Traditional Finnish “sponge cake” i.e. sokerikakku (sugar cake)
To get you started, the Finnish version of a sponge cake requires five simple ingredients. These five ingredients are usually a given in any Scandinavian pantry, which means it rarely requires heading to the store or much of an effort to whip up a cake.
To make a cake for a 24-26cm/~9-10in pan (serves approximately 15) you will need the following:
2 identical glasses
5 eggs (room temperature)
2 tsp baking powder
Note: If you want to make it chocolate flavored, leave out the potato flour and instead use dark cocoa powder and flour with an approximate ratio of 30-70%. It’s easiest if you first measure up about 1/3 of cocoa in the glass compared to the eggs, and then add flour on top. (Scroll down for further preparation instructions.)
For the pan:
Preheat the oven to 175C / 350F, bake on the lowest level for approximately 40 min
A cake prepared with 5 eggs requires about 2-2,5dl/1 cup of liquid for moistening
Take two identical glasses. Crack the eggs into one glass. Place the empty glass next to the glass with eggs and fill it with the same amount of sugar. Pour the sugar into a mixing bowl (don’t touch the eggs yet!) Then place the empty sugar glass again next to the glass of eggs and take out your wheat and potato flour. For a fluffy and airy cake, I like to use approximately a 50-50 or 75-25 ratio of wheat and potato flour. Spoon wheat flour into the glass so it levels off to approximately half of the amount of eggs, a little more. Then add potato flour to fill the glass up to the same level of eggs in the other glass. Add 2 tsp of baking powder into the flour glass and mix the flours with a spoon.
Add the eggs to the sugar and whisk with an electric whisk (or by hand) until the eggs and sugar form a nice foam. The foam is ready when the whisk leaves a temporary pattern on top of the batter.
Sift the flour into the sugar-egg batter, gently mixing by hand or folding it in with a spatula. You do not want to over mix, but also make sure there are no flour lumps in the batter!
Grease the cake pan and dust it with bread crumbs, pour the batter into the pan and place the pan in the oven on the lowest level. It takes about 40 minutes to bake, or until you can poke in a toothpick and it comes out clean. If it looks like the top is getting too dark, cover the cake with tin foil. However, avoid opening the oven for the first 20 minutes! When your cake is ready, take it out of the oven, and drop the cake pan 2-3 times onto a counter top from approximately 20-30cm/8-12in. This sounds absurd, but it will release the air bubbles and keep your cake from flopping when it cools.
Let the cake cool, remove it from the pan, and cut it into 2-3 layers according to your preference.
You can fill the sponge cake with whatever you like. Moistening is important for us Scandinavians, so take about 2-2,5dl/1 cup of juice (that matches the flavor of your filling), Sprite, or even milk to moisten the cake layers. I like to use a small spray bottle and colorful juice to ensure the cake is moistened evenly. Traditional fillers are whipped cream and strawberry slices with sugar, banana slices, peach, whatever you like..
I also prefer cutting off possible crust, so that you’re left with a thoroughly soft cake to work with. For every layer, moisten evenly before adding filling. Remember to moisten the top also!
For this cake I used a strawberry-rhubarb mousse (instructions to come soon), covered the cake with colored whipped cream and decorated with buttercream flowers. It’s not the most traditional way of decorating a Scandinavian cake, but I’m happy with the way it turned out. The occasion this time was a combined 3rd birthday party for the twins and my MBA graduation.