Runeberg cake: dessert for poets and all the good people.

I’m quite excited to present you this hidden Finnish treasure, the cake that you won’t be able to taste unless you are traveling or living in Finland or Sweden in mid of January – beginning of February. And even then you might miss it on the cafe shelf, with it fancy-classy yet modest shape and decor. The cake has a story how it was created and tradition that has been built around it within the time, – all tiny details that I adore and interested in so much when I’m looking for new recipe to try on my (or my friend’s) kitchen!

No doubts, this cake can speak for itself. And for those who, like me, are seeking the magic in the cooking process and curious about the details I address this text.

So, long story short: according to the legend, the recipe invented by Frederika Runeberg for her husband, Finland-Swedish national poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg (1804–1877). Her recipe book from the 1850s has the torte’s recipe, which is believed to be a variation of an earlier recipe by confectioner Lars Astenius from Porvoo. The story claims that the cake became the part of the poet’s daily breakfast. Oh, he had a sweet tooth indeed. 🙂

Now Runeberg cakes can be found for a limited time all around Finland (and probably in Sweden too): traditionally they are baked to celebrate the poet’s birthday that is on 5th of February. Only in Porvoo (small beautiful town 50 km away from Helsinki) the cafes are granted the privilege to keep it in their daily menu for all over the year. If you visit the city, I would highly recommend you to go and try it there, can’t be a mediocre experience for sure!

The most distinctive flavors and taste of this cake come from sweet almonds, bitter almond extract, raspberry, molasses, orange zest and cardamom. The traditional shape is a cylinder 3 cm in diameter and about 6-7 cm high. There are a lot of variations of the original recipes and while making my own research I almost got crazy and desperate with my attempts to find a ‘genuine’ formula for this cake. Luckily, I wasn’t the only one doing my research, – I found the recipe that seemed to be more canonical that anything else so far from the Blogdessertsforbreakfast blog and after baking I should say: that feels just right to me! Besides the recipe, authors shares a very nice story about her experience with making this dessert, so you’ll be entertained well enough while backing your torttu. 🙂

file_000Hence, you can go straight there and follow that recipe, or follow one I am listing below. We (me and my friend Kate, who are accompanying me in my baking adventures from time to time) changed the measurements from cups (that was quite confusing for us) to grams and the Fahrenheit to Celsius for the oven to make it easy to follow. Also, we changed a few ingredients to the similar ones that are available at our area. Otherwise, we followed the process described in the linked blog  above as close as possible.

Runeberg Cake (Runebergintorttu in finnish)
makes 8 3×3 round cakes (one per portion) Continue reading