Royal Party Cake
After cooking professionally in Boston for eight years, I moved to Copenhagen for a fresh start and new culinary inspiration. I arrived in October, and by the end of my first winter, I fully understood what it was like to yearn for more sunlight and warmer weather.
My first summer in Copenhagen not only introduced me to what it’s like to have daylight for 20 hours straight but also to the world of scrumptious traditional Danish layer cakes. One particular cake I was served in the garden at my friend’s summer cottage was so distinctive and delicious, I knew I needed the recipe.
Its posh name, Royal Party Cake, belies its rather simple ingredients. It’s neither a classic layer cake nor a pavlova, but a fusion of the two. Its two layers are composed of a white vanilla batter topped with a lavish spread of meringue, and the resulting contrast between the soft vanilla cake and the crispy airiness of the meringue is what makes this summer dessert like no other.
In Copenhagen, the berry season is usually over in the blink of an eye, so I often end up using juicy wedges of nectarines or peaches in place of the strawberries. Any fresh seasonal fruit with a touch of tartness will work; it’s the acidity that cuts through the fattiness of the cream topping, giving the cake its lightness. In San Francisco, the long
berry season makes strawberries a perfect fruit choice.
For the cake batter:
Nonstick cooking spray
1 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
6 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
6 ounces sugar
4 egg yolks, room temperature
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk
4 ounces walnuts, chopped roughly
For the meringue:
4 egg whites, room temperature
Pinch of salt
8 ounces sugar
1½ cups whipping cream
½ cup sour cream
1 pint (12 ounces) strawberries
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 325°F. Coat two 9-inch springform pans with nonstick cooking spray; line bottoms with parchment paper. Coat paper with cooking spray; set aside.
Make the cake batter. In a small bowl, sift flour and baking powder together; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk butter with sugar until sugar has dissolved. Add egg yolks and continue to whisk until pale yellow. Whisk in vanilla extract, milk and dry ingredients until just combined (do not overmix).
Divide the batter between prepared pans and spread batter evenly. Sprinkle walnuts evenly in each pan.
Make the meringue. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. While beating, slowly add sugar and beat until stiff and glossy.
Divide meringue between pans with cake batter and walnuts and gently spread evenly so it covers cake batter completely.
Bake until meringue is light brown, 45–50 minutes. Immediately after removing cakes from oven, run a knife around edge of each pan. Invert cakes onto a clean plate and gently peel off the lining paper.
Once cake has cooled, prepare filling. In a bowl or mixer, whisk cream until soft peaks form. Whisk in sour cream; set aside. Hull and slice half the strawberries, leaving the other half whole.
To serve, re-invert 1 cake layer (cake side down, meringue side up) onto a serving platter. Top with half of whipped filling. Decorate with sliced strawberries. Stack second cake layer on top in same manner. Top with remaining filling and garnish with whole berries. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.
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Royal Party Cake was published in the Summer 2016 issue of Edible San Francisco Magazine. © 2016 Edible San Francisco. Photo © 2016 Bruce Cole.