At every Norwegian celebration there must be cake and on the 17 of May, Norway’s National Day, Norwegians go the extra mile. It is very common to see a table full of cakes for the syttende mai family gathering. After a day of watching or participating in the city parade the celebration continues with Norway’s best cakes.
Bløtkake, or layer cake, is the featured cake at 17 of May. It is a dry sponge cake filled with layers of fresh cream and lots of berries. There are two varieties, one with a cream cover which is called bløtkake and the other has a marzipan cover called marsipankake.
There are also several other cakes that are popular for National Day. Any variety of chocolate cake, often flavoured with coffee or topped with coffee flavoured icing, and often presented as a slab, is common for any Norwegian occasion. A very new addition to the celebration cake tradition is Pavlova. Norwegians are very familiar with egg white based desserts such as Troll Cream (made from egg whites, vanilla sugar and usually cowberries) and with layer cakes such as the Worlds Best but now the Pav is becoming popular. Cooking magazines have featured this cake in the last months and a new line of pavlova cake mix has reached the stores.
Almond is important in Norwegian cake tradition. Kransekake, or ring cake, is an edible table display. It is made from a special almond paste and is baked into rings that when stacked on top of each other make a cone. Almond torte, or Mandelterte, is a stiff slice cake made out of an almond paste and butter cream usually with a chocolate or caramel coating. This cake is common to most countries.
Verdens beste, literally meaning the ‘World’s Best’ cake is a famous cake in Norway as it won an international cake award. It is also ‘unofficially’ Norway’s national cake (according to an NRK radio poll). It is a layer cake with a cake base, soft meringue and rum flavoured cream.
Especially for National Day, cakes are decorated with flags or the national colours. The soft cream cakes use fruit as a topping – blue berries and raspberries or strawberries – to create a National theme. Sometimes the layers inside of cakes have different lines of blue and red fruit.
Ribbons and flags are used to dress hard cover cakes such as masipankake, kransekake and mandelterte. Ribbons with a red, white and blue stripe are a very popular decoration for syttende mai. Little flags are found in every party section of supermarkets all year long as they are not just used for National Day. Coloured marzipan flowers are a common feature.
All this cake baking doesn’t leave much room in the fridge. Since outside is colder than the ice box, (as we live in Northern Norway) we sit our cakes on the porch to keep fresh and cool. Though it is best to put a cover on them and set them up high. One time Moose’s grandmother had a chocolate slab cake cooling on the front step and some American visitors thought it was a doormat, wiping their feet on it!