A Finnish Welcome
Welcome one and all and happy 2015! When I was thinking about what recipe I would share in my welcome post, there was one thing that invariably stood out time and time again, and that was a Finnish Täytekakku.
A multi layered sponge cake filled with whipped cream and seasonal fruit. It is the crowning glory of the Finnish coffee table and a beautiful thing to behold. It is often made for birthday celebrations, any celebration in fact, and I can’t recall a childhood birthday without one. I remember this cake fondly as a mouth-watering masterpiece sitting invitingly in the centre of the table, ready to be sliced into and devoured as soon as the rest of the food was eaten and the smell of freshly brewed coffee started to float throughout the house. As soon I smelt the coffee I knew it wouldn’t be long before I would be holding a plate covered in a few remaining crumbs and have a face covered in cream. Seconds was a must!
If you have ever visited Finland or have attended a formal Finnish celebration of any kind, chances are you've probably had a täytekakku. If not, you’re in for a creamy, surprisingly more-ish (given the amount of cream) treat. Everyone has their own version, and this blueberry filled delight is mine. The cake is a simple sponge made of sugar, eggs, flour and baking powder. It’s usually baked as one large cake that is then sliced into three layers and filled with cream and fruit. Sometimes, if I’m feeling particularly fancy, like I am today for instance, I’ll bake two cakes so that I have four layers in total. I highly recommend doing this if you want to present a cake with that extra wow factor, for a special birthday or anniversary for instance.
Each layer is soaked in any fruit juice of your choice. My Mummo would always use pineapple and passionfruit and it’s my customary option. Today however, I’m using fresh blueberries that I’ve pulsed for a few seconds in a food processor, to which I have added a few teaspoons of caster sugar for a bit of extra sweetness. Then, upon each layer is spread a generous amount of whipped cream, topped by a variety of fruit: again, any fruit will do; strawberries, raspberries, kiwi, pineapple, peaches. Anything you like. I’m using blueberries generously gifted to me by a friend who very conveniently owns a berry farm. They’re fresh as can by and just bursting with flavour and juice. For the sake of simplicity, you can also use jam to fill the layers. It’s tastes just as good, if not a tad sweeter due to the concentration of sugar in the jam, and holds together better than if using loose fruit. This is also a wise choice if you’re making this cake for a children’s birthday party, as children are known to turn their pert little noses up at things filled with a ton of fruit.
You continue on in this fashion until you fun out of layers. To finish, the cake is customarily covered in a layer of whipped cream and then decorated. But I prefer to simply spread cream on the top and then decorate, leaving the layers exposed. I prefer this for two reason. First of all, I think it looks prettier when you can see the golden layers of sponge and the little fruit popping out of the ivory cream. And secondly, it saves on cream. Which to me, makes it appear a bit healthier. At least, it’s what I tell myself when I go in for a second helping!
To me, this cake screams welcome. It was always offered by my mummo (Finnish for grandma) whenever we would visit. There was always an assortment of pastries, open sandwiches, and cookies to choose from, but it was the Täytekakku that always stole the show. My mummo would make it in multitude of variations, depending on the fruits in season. And it was always decorated with such precision and care. It was a work of art and a beautiful way to welcome any guest. So this is how I’m going to welcome you, lovely readers, whoever you might be. I hope you enjoy the photos and the recipe and get a sweet kick out of making and eating this Finnish celebratory staple.
Love and light!