Monday Meal Review: Sweden

Det är skönare lyss till den sträng som brast än att aldrig spänna en båge.”

“It is fairer to listen to the string that broke than to never strain a bow.”
Verner von Heidenstam (Swedish Poet & Novelist)

I slumped into my chair, put my head on my arms, and groaned. I’d spent hours making the Swedish princess cake, only to find out that the marzipan was too thin. Not only could I see the cake through the spring green coating, the marzipan began to crack as I struggled to stretch it over the cake. Whipped cream oozed thickly out of the seams and ripples.

Back to the store it was, to find more marzipan, color it, and cover the cake anew.

I also made the custard three times. And the cake batter three times.

I huffed. I puffed. I had  a storm cloud over my head.

If this cake was a constant struggle, it was mostly because I wanted the recipe to work. I wanted it to be easy for you to follow in my footsteps, without the heartache of confusing instructions.

Many of you said my cake came out beautifully. Many of you said I did so well.

But I knew the truth. I knew what you weren’t seeing.

sweden.food.recipe.img_3834

So, I thought I’d show you a little behind the scenes… behind the impression of “perfection,” so that you know that I’m only human. And most decidedly not the kind of human who knows what she’s doing when it comes to rolled marzipan (or fondant for that matter).

First: The photo from the blog. So pretty! A little rippling, but nothing out of Frankenstein. She’s pretty much “together.”
sweden.food.recipe.img_3565

Now, for what the other side looked like:

swedish-princess-cake-mistake

 

Cue the scary music.

Not exactly runway ready.

Look at those cracks. Those puckers. Those wrinkles. The only reason you don’t see whipped cream oozing out from that mess is that I had a double layer of marzipan.

The lesson? Always have the ability to present your cake up against a wall… just in case.

(Though I will say, both sides of the cake tasted just as good.)

I’m curious: Anyone else want to “keep it real”? Do you have one (or more!) baking or decorating disasters in your history? What happened? How did you deal with it? Were you able to fix it?  Like the old Swedish proverb at the top of this post, were you glad you tried? In the end, were you glad you “strained the bow?” or are you done trying?

THE FOOD

Swedish Meatballs [Recipe]

sweden.food.recipe.img_3798

What I loved most about this recipe:

Everything. The flavor of Swedish meatballs is fantastic; they go so well with the cream sauce and tart lingonberry jam. I’d vote for this as the ultimate party food (serve them on a platter with toothpicks, like they do in Sweden at Christmastime). I’m happy to report that the entire family was all about them (hello, egg noodle bliss!). I honestly can’t believe it took me this long to try my hand at making them; they really are the best! It was an added bonus that my Swedish friend Alex asked for the recipe. Awesome.

What I loved least about this recipe:

Nothing. The recipe is super easy… Just know that it takes a while to shape all the meatballs…. so invite a friend to help, or set up shop in front of your favorite show. And be sure to use a bowl of water to moisten your hands. It really does keep the meatballs from sticking.

sweden.food.recipe.img_3804

Swedish Princess Cake | Prinsesstårta [Recipe]

sweden.food.recipe.img_3565

What I loved most about this dessert:

Once it finally came together, this cake was stunning … just so lovely.. and the flavor was fresh and springy. It really felt like a special occasion cake… and I’m so glad I tried it. I want to try it again sometime, when I don’t have the pressure of taking photos. I think it will go a lot easier.

What I loved least about this dessert:

I almost called this post “Monday Meal Review: Princess Cake” … because so much of this week’s Adventure was struggling to make that cake properly.This is definitely an advanced recipe. Not so much because of the cake (that recipe is super easy), the custard, or the whipped cream… but because of the marzipan. Use the video I shared (see recipe post) to help you see how it gets smoothed on (or, even better, invite a friend over who knows how to work with fondant… it’s the same thing). That being said, I still encourage you to try it out… even Swedes will hide their mistakes behind a dusting of powdered sugar or a clump of marzipan flowers.

But just look at this… how could you not try it once?

sweden.food.recipe.img_3779

Opt In Image
Hungry for more?
Be notified when National Geographic releases my memoir.

Simply fill in your details below.

Comments

  1. marjan says:

    That is why I love reading your posts…your Honesty!

  2. Brian S. says:

    I forgot history…. I always thought civilization came late to Sweden. When scholars in 13th century Paris were debating the works of Thomas Aquinas and Anselm, people in Sweden were huddled around log fires in rude log cabins. Of course once civilization came, it came fast, and Sweden was a major player in all the European wars and power struggles. But don’t forget the Vikings. They conquered England. They conquered Russia. They visited North America. Even today, every top aristocrat in England and Russia either traces his ancestry back to these Scandinavian pirates or wishes he could.

    And what a lovely meal! And the cake… delicious! So often I’d say to my dad, look at the beautiful presentation of this dish, and he’d say, who cares what it looks like?! It’s how it tastes that matters.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      I think great deal of the taste is in presentation! I blame lots of pickiness on visuals… and also textures.

  3. Hi Sasha! I had a bit of a disaster recently with one of your recipes: the Romanian Pasca. The dough on the bottom was too thin, the sides were too thick, and my fickle oven got too hot so the bread was toasty brown before the cheese was barely warm. In the end, the bread was dry and unpleasant and the center cheesecake sank and opened up a cavernous hole. So I scooped the center part out and ate that plain (very tasty), and used the bread to make the Caribbean coconut rum bread pudding. (Delicious!) It’s all good. (Of course, I wasn’t obligated to post any spectacular photos.)

    As for your being only human…uh, no. A mere moral would not have made this cake three times (or the Pasca– what? 8?). If I had experienced what you had, the whole lot of it would have been flung out the back door. And when your mixer walked off the counter onto the floor? You calmly took photos. I’m sorry — that’s not normal human behavior. You are at least a demi-goddess, with the patience of a saint.

  4. Hi,

    I just discovered you web site and love it. One thing though when I checked on Sweden (I’m Swedish) I noted you served the meatballs with noodles. We serve meatballs with either boiled potatoes or mashed potatoes, never noodles. That is something I only had in the US.

    So, potatoes, meatballs, cream sauce, lingonberry jam and occ. pickled cucumbers.

    Best regards,

    Astrid

  5. Also, I will try to do this challenge myself starting this coming week.

    Thanks,

    Astrid

Speak Your Mind

*