“She [Nina] shoved one of the cakes from the coffee service into her mouth …”
Nina was always eating sweets and was especially enamored with cake. I set out to make one that would have her salivating. For a Six of Crows book review, click here.
This recipe has several components, so I recommend reading it all the way through before beginning. You can also make it in steps. The crème anglaise can be made the night (or a couple nights) before. As can the sponge cake. Everything must be cool to assemble.
Traditionally, a Swedish Princess Cake is green, but I gave mine a rosy tint that I thought Nina would better appreciate. Also, these cakes are typically much larger. It’s a very sweet cake, though, and the miniature version is the perfect portion size.
This cake is a sponge cake, baked in a muffin tin, cut in half and spread with some fresh crème anglaise and raspberry jam. I suppose you could substitute the crème anglaise with pudding, though it feels like heresy just suggesting it. The crème is the most difficult part of this recipe. Because you need patience, young Padawan. Lots and lots of patience. Don’t look away from your crème for even a moment. Don’t blink. Blink and
you your crème anglaise is dead. Just keep an eye on it and I promise you and the crème will make it out deliciously alive.
This recipe will make about 2 dozen princess cakes. I recommend making the number you need because the leftover scraps make for a divine trifle. Just layer the cake, fresh crème anglaise, fresh whipped cream, and jam in a glass dish and voila.
Sponge Cake cupcakes (I used this recipe. Some notes below.)
Crème Anglaise (recipe below)
Fresh whipped cream (directions below)
Seedless raspberry jam
8 ounce package of marzipan
Your choice of food coloring (or food coloring gel)
- Make the crème anglaise and allow to cool in the refrigerator. Recipe below.
- Make your sponge cake cupcakes. Allow to cool. Recipe below.
- Make the whipped cream. Directions below.
- Slice the cupcakes in half.
- Spread the bottom half of the cupcake with crème anglaise. Spoon 1 teaspoon of raspberry jam on top of the crème. Do not spread the jam to the edges. Keep it in the center.
- Place the other half of the cupcake on top, like a sandwich.
- Spread the sides and top with whipped cream. You will need extra cream on top to shape a dome. I found my (clean) hands to be the most helpful tool for shaping the cream, especially with how small the cakes are.
- Line the completed domes on a cookie sheet and cool in the refrigerator while you prepare the marzipan.
- Unwrap the marzipan. If you have a stand mixer, I recommend kneading the marzipan with a dough hook. It’s easier and you won’t stain your hands with food dye. If you don’t have a stand mixer, it does help to wear gloves to avoid staining your hands. Kneed your preferred color into the dough. I wanted to get a deep corporalki red, but I started to get nervous after 40 drops of red food coloring. I didn’t want to add too much liquid to my marzipan. You won’t have to worry about the liquid if you use gel food coloring.
- Dust a clean surface with powdered sugar (just like you would do with dough and a flour dusting). Roll out the marzipan into a thin layer. Find a round cookie cutter, glass, tubberware, or bowl bottom that’s about 6 inches in diameter. (If you get the size wrong, just put the circle back in the sheet of marzipan and pat it back into place).
- Pull the pan of cakes from the fridge and drape the marzipan over the cake, careful not to smash your dome. Pat the marzipan into shape and use a knife to press the edge of the marzipan into the cake and then cut off the excess along the bottom. Finish shaping the marzipan, using your fingers along the bottom to give the marzipan a nice crimped edge.
- The cakes can be served immediately. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
From The Joy of Cooking
5 large egg yoks
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups whole milk (I used 1 cup skim milk and 1 cup heavy cream)
1 vanilla bean (optional)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
- Note: do not allow your mixture to come to a boil at any time. Remember….don’t blink!
- Pour the 2 cups of milk into a saucepan (preferably a heavy bottomed one). If you want a vanilla flavored custard…
- Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise in half. Scrape the seeds into the milk.
- Bring the milk to a very gentle simmer. You’ll see steam and some bubbles around the edges of the pan. That’s perfect. You don’t want anything that resembles a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the vanilla bean to steep for 15 minutes.
- Strain the vanilla bean and then proceed with the recipe.
- (If you don’t have vanilla bean, you can pick up the recipe from here). In a medium bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks and sugar. Set aside.
- Heat the 2 cups of milk on low heat. One the mixture is steaming and there are small bubbles around the edges, you’re good. Remember, no boiling.
- Remove the milk from the heat. With one hand, whisk the egg and sugar mixture. You must keep it moving. With your other hand (or get a willing friend) slowly pour a ladle of the hot milk into the egg mixture. By keeping the egg mixture moving, you’ll prevent the egg from scrambling. Whisk in the rest of the milk.
- Return the mixture to the saucepan and return to low heat. Watch carefully and continue to slowly stir the mixture with a rubber spatula, especially sweeping the bottom of the pan. Do not let it boil. By keeping the heat low and stirring, you can warm the mixture slowly enough.
- Once it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (or has reached 175° on a candy thermometer), remove from heat. Pour the custard into a bowl and allow it to cool at room temperature. Place in the fridge, uncovered, and allow to chill for at least 1-2 hours before layering on your Princess Cake
- NOTE: If your crème anglaise began to boil or appears slightly curdled (read: lumpy), do not panic! Pour the mixture into a bowl, allow to cool at room temperature, and then refrigerate uncovered. When you pull it out of the fridge, just give it a nice stir and it will smooth out. No one will be the wiser! This does not apply if the eggs have scrambled. I’m afraid there’s not much that can be done about that.
- Once the custard is cool, you can cover it with plastic wrap. Press the plastic wrap against the custard. This will prevent condensation from forming. Store covered in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Choose your favorite sponge cake recipe. I used this one and found the accompanying video extremely helpful.
- Spoon 2 tablespoons of batter into a regular sized muffin tin with paper cupcake liners. I made 8 cupcakes and then poured the rest of the batter into a ungreased 8X8 pan. The pan must be ungreased to allow the cake to properly rise. It needs to cling to the sides of the pan.
- The cupcakes will bake about 15 minutes. Follow the directions on your recipe for testing doneness.
- When you pull the cupcakes out of the oven, you’ll want to find a way to let them cool upside down, otherwise the cake will collapse on itself. (If you have no way of getting them upside down, don’t worry too much about it). My cupcakes didn’t quite reach the top of the liners, so I was able to turn them upside down on a clean counter, balanced on the top edge of the liner. If you used a nonstick pan, the cakes will stick to the pan. This is good. Balance the edges of a pan on two glasses.
- The cake is sticky. Once the cakes are cool, carefully unpeel the liner. You’re now ready to begin your princess cakes.
Cold heavy cream
- For every 1 cup of heavy cream, add 2 tablespoons of sugar. I whipped 2 cups of cream, part of which was used in my trifle.
- Pour the cream and sugar into a large bowl. Whisk on high with a stand mixer or hand mixer until the cream has stiff peaks. Watch it carefully, though. If you beat it too long, you’ll end up with butter!