Thursday, June 4, 2015

International Cooking Challenge: Sweden - Smörgåstårta and Rhubarb Soup

In case you didn't know yet, I am half Swedish.  My father was first generation American.  I lived in Sweden in high school for a year, with my father's cousin, and I am fluent in Swedish.

I don't cook Swedish food often, though.  I don't know why.  Perhaps it is because when I was living in Sweden, and I asked what Swedes cooked when they wanted to cook fancy food, they told me they cooked French food...

I decided it was time for a good Swedish meal.  I have seen pictures of Smörgåstårta all over the internet.  It looks delicious, beautiful, and intriguing.  You can modify it to have all sorts of fillings.  It's whimsical, because who doesn't want to have cake for dinner?  It would be lovely for a party.  Midsommar is coming soon - maybe I'll revisit it then!

I also decided to make some rhubarb soup for dessert, as the rhubarb is coming at us now (my mother has a nice patch and is willing to share.  Bonus!)  Cake for dinner and soup for dessert?  We all found this amusing.

We had my best friends over for dinner, along with one of my best friend's mothers.  This was absolutely a great company meal.

The Smörgåstårta is, literally, a sandwich cake.  The first thing you need to do is make bread in the shape that you want the cake to be in.  I've seen it both in loaf shape and round.  I decided to go with round, because I like that better.  A loaf might be better for a party, because slices would be more uniform, and could be smaller more easily.  I used smoked salmon, shrimp, and hard boiled eggs for my filling, along with cucumbers and radishes, and plenty of dill.  I've seen recipes calling for herring mousse as filling, and that would also be delicious.  You can modify as you see fit.  I am only including bread machine instructions for the bread, but you could always modify it to make by hand or using a stand mixer.

Swedish Smörgåstårta


2 c milk
1 tsp honey
2 tsp canola oil
1 tsp salt
6 c all-purpose flour (add more if necessary to get the dough to the right texture)
1 1/2 Tbsp yeast


1 c creme fraiche (could use sour cream)
1 c cream cheese
1 c plain Greek yogurt

6 - 8 oz smoked salmon
1 c small cooked shrimp
1 cucumber
2 radishes
3 hard boiled eggs
1/4 c dill
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp pepper

For the bread:  

Combine the ingredients for the bread in the bread machine on dough setting.  Allow to continue through cycle, adjusting texture so that the dough is not too sticky by adding more flour, or a little water.  When the dough cycle is complete, punch down and transfer to a 9" springform pan.  Cover with a towel and allow to rise for about 45 minutes.  Preheat oven to 400 F, and bake for about 30 minutes, or until bread is golden brown, and sounds hollow when you knock on it.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

To assemble the Smörgåstårta, whip together the creme fraiche, cream cheese, and yogurt - this will be your "frosting."

Slice the cucumber and radishes very thinly, with a mandolin if you have one.

Slice the bread into three equal layers with a sharp bread knife and separate carefully.  Spread a thin layer of "frosting" onto bottom layer and top with a layer of fresh dill, followed by a layer of smoked salmon, reserving a piece of two of salmon for decorating the top of the cake. 

Spread the next layer of bread with more "frosting," and carefully place, "frosting" side down, on top of the first layer.  Spread the newly exposed bread with more "frosting" and top with some more dill.  Toss the shrimp with the lemon juice.  Reserve a few shrimp for decorations on top of the cake, then chop the rest coarsely.  Spread the chopped shrimp over the second layer of the cake, and sprinkle with some of the pepper.  Add a layer of radishes and cucumbers, along with slices of hard boiled egg (reserve one egg for topping).

Finally, spread the final layer of bread with more "frosting," and carefully place, "frosting" side down, on top of the second layer.  Use remaining "frosting" to cover the top and sides of the cake.  Decorate with remaining salmon, eggs, vegetables, dill, and shrimp.

Refrigerate for at least 1 hr before serving.  It will benefit from sitting for several hours, to allow flavors to meld.  Slice and serve, as you would a cake.


Swedish Rhubarb Soup
(modified from Boniers Kokbok)

500g fresh rhubarb, chopped into 1/2" pieces
4 c water
1 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cornstarch

Serve with:
4 strawberries, sliced thinly
1 c vanilla ice cream
From one of my Swedish cookbooks

Bring water and sugar to a boil and add rhubarb.  Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes, until rhubarb dissolves when stirred. 

Add vanilla and stir until no more rhubarb chunks remain. Mix corn starch with a small amount of cold water until it is dissolved, then stir the mixture into the rhubarb.  Simmer until slightly thickened.

Serve the rhubarb soup with slices of strawberries and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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1 comment:

  1. I'm very impressed! I don't know anyone in Sweden who would bake their own bread for Smörgåstårta. We'd cheat and use toast with the crust cut off.