My Citizens! I am feeling rather celebratory this day, and as such the Nabob of the North – YOUR TFD! – has turned His boreal gaze once again towards ‘Ultima Thule‘ to find a suitable dish to slake My hunger and as a proper centerpiece to the feast I will prepare! Lo and behold, I discovered this delightfully whimsical gastronomic ‘trompe l’oeil‘ recipe from Sweden – and a quick bit of research informed Me that an IDENTICAL dish also exists in Iceland too! For the GLORY of TFD Nation, I am honored to share My version of smörgåstårta (Swedish) or brauðterta (Icelandic) sandwich cake!
Smörgåstårta (Swedish: smörgåstårta, (pronounced smoorgawstawrta) ‘sandwich cake’ or ‘sandwich torte’) is a dish of Swedish origin popular in Sweden, Estonia (called ‘võileivatort’), Finland (called ‘voileipäkakku’ and smörgåstårta ) and Iceland (called brauðterta (Brayth-tayrta – bread cake)). It is NOT a cake, but has large amounts of filling and garnish, similar to a layered cream cake but it is in point of fact a gigantic sandwich MASQUERADING as a cake.
A smörgåstårta is normally made up of several layers of white or light rye bread with creamy fillings in between. The fillings and toppings vary, but egg and mayonnaise are often the base; additional filling may vary greatly but often include one or more of the following: liver pâté, olives, shrimp, ham, various cold cuts, caviar, tomato, cucumber, grapes, lemon slices, cheese, and smoked salmon. Smörgåstårta is served cold and cut like a dessert cake.
The types of sandwich cakes vary from meat, fish, combinations of cheeses and meats, to vegan. The top garnish often reflects the ingredients used as a filling. In Finland, voileipäkakku is a standard dish at family gatherings such as birthday parties, weddings, or funerals.
If you wanted to make it into Guinness Book of World Records, what would YOU do? Well, in 1985, a man named Hasse “Hasse P” Pettersson decided that he would put his hometown Köping on the map by making the world’s longest sandwich cake, or smörgåstårta. The record-winning cake turned out to be 510 meters and 69 centimetres, or 1675 feet and 5 inches…and yes, the record still stands to this very day!
Swedish food historian Richard Tellström has done a splendid job writing about the history of smörgåstårta at Taffel.se, which I shall share excerpted and in translation:
Despite the exceptional research in the above excerpt, it is worth noting that a bakery ad in Svenska Dagbladet mentions smörgåstårta as early as the 30th of May, 1945, using a loaf of bread that is cut into layers. The filling is flavored with sprats or salmon and cheese or liver paté, then was decorated with piped salmon cream, egg slices, and dill. An even older ad in Svenska Dagbladet, from 1929, mentions something called sandwichtårta, “sandwich cake”, but sadly, there are no further details on how this creation looked.
One of the oldest known mentions of smörgåstårta is found in Söderhamns tidning in 1934 – to make the cake ‘extra festive’, the recipe author suggests using different colors for coloring the butter used for spreading the bread – I heartily accept this idea, but have instead colored the FILLINGS for a more dramatic look for the ‘cake’ when cut.
As to how brauðterta migrated to Iceland, where it is considered a very traditional dish to enjoy, I have not been able to determine. All that I DO know is that it didn’t really become popular in Iceland until the 1950’s. Brauðterta’s popularity may have waned since the ’50’s, but it has started to make a major comeback. So much so that there is actually an entire Facebook group called Brauðtertufélag Erlu Og Erlu, which has almost 15,000 members (that is approximately 4% of the ENTIRE ICELANDIC POPULATION!).
If you decide to make the Icelandic version, be advised that you should make My version with regular rye bread – NOT rúgbrauð, another form of Icelandic rye that has…unfortunate…gastrointestinal side effects if you eat too much! If you have a strong constitution (and a strong enjoyment of ‘fart humor’) read the horror story at the link above related to My honeymoon in Iceland that proved DRAMATICALLY memorable. Enjoy rúgbrauð in moderation in another meal, just trust Me on this one! 😉
Taking a cue from that first smörgåstårta recipe, I have chosen to dramatically (and naturally) color my sandwich cake fillings as red, white, green and yellow – they are either in minced form or finely-chopped, to make cutting and eating the sandwich cake a simple process.
The colors, fillings and flavors hold especial meaning for Me – the smoked salmon filling calls back to both Iceland and My NYC Jewish upbringing; the yellow egg salad is an homage to the yellow in the Swedish flag with an Indian zeitgeist; the green chicken holds Georgian herbal flavors and the white is classic Scandinavia with a hint of China – it’s basically a more rustic version of har gow filling!
Above all else, please be sure that you decorate the ‘frosting’ (actually a mix of sour cream, cream cheese and horseradish with some white pepper and salt added). I strongly endorse using the best white pepper as the Scandinavians do and this gourmet Icelandic sea salt for pure authenticity.
When it comes to decorating – GO NUTS! These are My preferred ingredients for decoration: cucumber and half-sour pickle slices, very thin slices of chiogga beets and watermelon radishes, very thin slices tjälknöl (or braseola), red & yellow peppers, dill, red onion, parsley, edible flowers (TFD especially likes blue borage flowers for their vibrancy and cucumber flavor), smoked red trout roe, yellow whitefish roe, black lumpfish roe and green wasabi-infused flying fish roe.
Note that it is My affectation to use both white AND rye bread to make up the layers of the ‘cake’ – traditionally, only white is used. Feel free to use only white bread if you are so inclined – also know that the classic Icelandic brauðterta is typically ‘frosted’ with mayonnaise. I have chosen to use the more modern approach of using a mix of sour cream and cream cheese instead.
My Citizens – this is a unique, rather retro and totally delicious feast from the North that will delight you and your guests equally – it is not at all difficult to make and My recipe (of course) bears all the hallmarks of My unique culinary genius and especial gift for adaptation of ingredients and techniques towards new horizons. I have every confidence this will be the next showstopper at your next soirée of choice! 😀
Battle on – the GeneralissimoPrint
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