Sunday, November 18, 2018

Sylvia Cake

When I started Journey of an Italian Cook more than a decade ago, I had two teens living at home and we ate a lot of pasta (and risotto and polenta and bread). Fast forward (it's been a really fast "fast-forward") and one child has been living in Germany for a few years, while another has started her professional life in St. Paul. The days of "pasta and roses" have dwindled. A more vegetable centric, low-carbohydrate lifestyle (no pasta, no risotto, no polenta, no bread) eeked its way into our lives. 

Maybe it's the thirty-odd years of living in Minnesota, but a Scandinavian gene sneaked its way into my body.

It's not quite a fjord, but Minnesota has it share of the blazing-blue sky, frigid days. And I have fallen for its stark beauty. I have also fallen for Fika - a Swedish "coffee and cake" break - designed to be shared with friends. Part of that hygge lifestyle I fell into many years ago before I knew what it was.

I am working my way through Scandikitchen Fika & Hygge by Bronte Aurell. There's quite a lot for those with a semi-sweet tooth - just sweet enough without throwing scads of sugar into your bloodstream.

Above is the "Sylvia Cake" which Aurell surmises is named after the Queen of Sweden. It's also considered a "poor man's cake" (fattigmanskaka) because water is one of the ingredients. But what is important is not the name or the addition of water, but the fact that it is really one of the most satisfying, sweet-nibbles out there. Even my Italian ancestors would have a slice with their espresso. You should also.

Ingredients (Serves 12-16) or in my home: 8
3 eggs plus one yolk
160 grams or 3/4 cup minus 1 tablespoon caster/granulated sugar
80 grams or 1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or seeds from 1/2 vanilla pod
200 grams or 1-1/2 cups all-purpose-flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
a pinch of salt
100 ml or 1/3 cup cold water

150 grams or 1-1/2 sticks butter
150 grams or 3/4 cup caster/granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or seeds from 1/2 vanilla pod
2 egg yolks
1 few drops of lemon juice
75 grams or  i cup dried shredded coconut

a 20x20 cm or 8x8 inch square baking pan greased and lined with parchment paper


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C
2. Whisk (in stand mixer or by hand) the eggs with the granulated sugar, light brown sugar and vanilla until thick and fluffy.
2. Sift flour, baking powder and salt and then fold into sugar-egg mixture. Slowly add the cold water and fold until incorporated.
3. Bake in the middle of the preheated oven 25-30 minutes - until well-risen, golden brown and springy to the touch. A toothpick inserted in center should come out clean.

Frosting (Make while cake is baking)
1. Melt butter in saucepan (do not brown). Add sugar and vanilla and stir a bit to dissolve. With heat on low, add egg yolks one at a time, whisking until smooth. Remove from heat.  Add 1/4 cup (50 grams) of the coconut and stir until combined and thick.

Now the fun part that adds so much: Preheat broiler. Spread the frosting over the cake and place the cake under the hot broiler for just a minute or two. You want it lightly caramelized (so good).

Remove from broiler and add the rest of the coconut to cover the cake (add a little more if needed).  Allow to completely cool before serving. Cut into squares.

It's a cosy cake. There's no higher compliment.

So yes, there have been changes. But some things remain the same.

Wishing my USA friends a Happy Thanksgiving and everyone a sweet November.


Chiara said...

I know that fika is a concept, a state of mind, an important part of Swedish culture.
I want to buy that book, it looks very interesting just like the dessert you made, have a good week !

Angie's Recipes said...

What an amazing cake! The flaked coconut is an easy yet elegant way to garnish the cake. YUMMY!

Whats Cookin Italian Style Cuisine said...

What a gorgeous cake. I love anything coconut and that sounds like a great book. I sure hope you have the best Thanksgiving ever! You sure stay busy my friend. Miss Puss is adorable love that face! Enjoy and god bless, Claudia