Norwegian cakes always look beautiful, as if they have just come out of a decadent country magazine. Eating cake is certainly an event in Norway. Cakes are way too pretty to be eaten in the hand with fingers. They are served on plates, always with a little spoon.
Table settings are very much a part of the tradition of serving cake in Norway. Table cloths are important as well as painted china with napkins accompanying each plate. A drink is always served whether it is hot home-made chocolate, tea and coffee or a fruit drink such as home-made blackcurrant juice. The cake is always the centre piece but other small sweets, open sandwiches, troll cream and waffles are a usual accompaniment. Not just the cake but the whole table, cloth and all, looks good enough to eat!
Norwegians have a great talent for cake making. The cake in the pictures was made for Farfar’s 80th a couple of years back, to Tante’s credit. This is just one of Tante’s many talents – cake decorating. Usually such flowers and leaves are made from a hard glaze but these ones were made out of soft marzipan. I can’t being to tell you how tricky it can be to make ornaments out of marzipan. (All I’ve managed to make successfully is bulky ducks and skinny snakes.) Tante certainly has a gift.
I wished someone had told me how to eat cake when I first came to Norway. It was at my wedding when I first encountered a real ‘home-made’ Norwegian cake. Layers of cream and sponge with fresh fruit and marzipan, decorated, of course, by Tante. After the cake cutting, as I thought tradition encouraged, I picked up some cake in my hand and fed it to Moose with my fingers (making sure I got cream all over his face). Moose was very surprised and the Norwegian crowd just stood there shocked. An awkward moment past and then Tante quickly saved the day by slicing and plating her gorgeous cake for everyone. This was the first time I really felt culture shock. The act of squishing cake all over your new spouses face is unheard of in Norway. Doh!