blotkake 1

Well, my birthday came and went and it was not earth shattering.  ie. I didn’t suddenly become much wiser or more grown-up, which I didn’t figure was going to happen, so at least I have the satisfaction of being right.  I did get a nice new purse, which I feel is a totally grown up thing to have, so that’s something.

I may have cried a little, but that’s because I always cry at some point on my birthday.  Not because I’m unhappy, just because I cry at almost any strong emotion, be it joy, sadness, anger, frustration, tiredness (that’s not actually an emotion, but it does make me cry), and birthdays always give me strong emotions because people do this whole thing of being particularly nice to you on your birthday, and I get overwhelmed, in a nice sort of way, when people are nice to me.

blotkake 2

We had a delicious pre-birthday dinner with my parents on the day they came back from Norway.  And we had a lovely dinner with Joel’s parents on my actual birthday because we were out visiting them at their little cabin in North Idaho, from whence we are just now returned.

And that is well nice and good, but when it comes down to it, and what I’m sure you’re thinking is, the important thing about birthdays is cake.  Right?

Right.

blotkake base

blotkake jam layer

Over the past set of years, I’ve taken to making the cake myself for my birthday.  A lot of people seem to think it’s a tragedy to have to make your own cake.  I can see where they’re coming from, and why it feels sort of wrong.  But at the same time, when you are someone who always likes an excuse to make a cake, wouldn’t it, in a way, be more of a tragedy not to be allowed to make your own cake?

And for my birthday it has always been and shall always be Norwegian birthday cake, or Norwegian celebration cake if you will, or bløtkake if you speak the language.  I’ve actually been meaning to share my recipe for Norwegian birthday cake with you for several years now, but I’ve kept postponing it, partly because I kept forgetting to take pictures and partly because I’ve been fiddling with the foundational cake recipe and wanted to wait until I’d found one that felt like a true favorite.

blotkake adding cream

blotkake spreading cream

Theoretically I shouldn’t be fiddling with the recipe, I suppose.  After all, it’s a traditional old recipe, it should be preserved in as true a form to the original as possible, right?  (That being about a cup each of eggs, flour, and sugar, whipped into oblivion and baked into a light spongey cake.)  But, the cake base has never been sacred in my family.  Perhaps because my mother isn’t much of a cake baker, we felt the important elements were really the cream, jam, and berries, and the cake could vary from year to year.  Some years it was made from a Duncan Hines box (sorry to tell on you mom!); some years we would buy the prebaked cake layers in plastic packaging from the grocery store in Norway and sprinkle them with milk to re-moisten them; some years we made the cake using the sukkerbrød (basic cake layer) recipe from the back of the sugar box.

blotkake stacked

I’ve taken that ethos and run with it, trying all sorts of recipes for yellow cakes and chiffon cakes and sponge cakes trying to find one that strikes a balance between the toothy moistness I love in yellow cakes and the almost-too-easy-to-eat lightness of a sponge or chiffon.  I found it in this wonderful cake recipe from the fantastically talented Suzanne (hi S!).

All I had to do was adjust it slightly to bake it in a single, larger, springform pan – I don’t know why, but this is just how we do it for birthday cakes in our family, and I swear it makes them taste better than layer cakes baked in multiple pans – and then add in the whipped cream, jam, and berries.

blotkake 3

Bløtkake is, in its essence, extremely simple, all about the cream and fruit.  This also makes it a wonderful summer cake.  With its creamy, jammy layers, it’s not dissimilar from a Victoria Sponge or the way some people make strawberry shortcake.  But – and perhaps this is just my sentimentality talking – it’s different, somehow, and better (in my opinion!).

The very best is the slice the birthday boy or girl gets to eat the next morning for breakfast.  The jam and cream have soaked into the cake at this point making it even more moist and marrying the flavors together.  Plus, it’s a great way to extend your birthday celebration.

Let’s eat cake.

blotkake 4

Norwegian birthday cake (Bløtkake)
 
Serves: about 12
Ingredients
  • For the cake:
  • 3 large eggs separated and at room temperature
  • 1½ cup sugar
  • 2¼ cups cake flour
  • 3 tsp. Baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ⅓ cup + 1 Tbs vegetable oil (I use peanut oil)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • For the filling and assembly:
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 2 Tbs. sugar
  • about ¾ cup good quality strawberry or raspberry (my fave) jam
  • a couple cups of fresh strawberries, hulled and halved, or any other type of berries (in winter we tend to use bananas or kiwis)
Instructions
  1. Heat your oven to 350.
  2. Grease a 10-inch round springform pan and cover the outside of it with a layer of aluminum foil (this will help keep the cake from browning too much before it cooks through).
  3. In a large metal bowl, use a handheld beater (or kitchen aid) to beat the egg whites until they are foamy, then continue to beat on high speed while adding ½ cup of the sugar 1 Tbs. at a time. Beat until the whites are stiff and glossy. Set aside.
  4. In another bowl, stir together the flour, remaining cup of sugar, baking powder, and salt, then on medium speed beat in the oil and vanilla and ½ cup of milk (you don't even have to wash the mixer before doing this!) for one minute.
  5. Add the remaining milk plus the egg yolks and continue to beat for another minute, until well combined. Then, fold in the egg whites and spread the batter into the prepared pan.
  6. Bake the cake in the oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50-60 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 15-20 minutes, then remove it from the springform pan and allow to cool completely.
  7. When the cake is fully cooled and ready for decorating, slice it into three horizontal layers using a very long serrated knife. Whip the heavy cream with the sugar until it holds stiff (but not super stiff) peaks. Spread the bottom layer with a thick layer of jam, then cover this with a layer of whipped cream. Add the second layer and repeat, spreading it with jam, then whipped cream. Top with the final layer of cake.
  8. Spread the entire outside of the cake with the rest of the whipped cream, then decorate the tops and sides with the berries. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve (I like to make mine a bit ahead of time so the filling has a little time to soak into the cake because I like it best that way).
  9. To serve the cake the way I learned growing up, first cut a round piece in the middle (so that if you were to remove the round piece the cake would be shaped like a donut), then cut slices radiating out from the round piece. The round piece is to be saved for the birthday boy or girl to eat for breakfast the next morning.

 

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26 Responses to Norwegian birthday cake (Bløtkake)

  1. Mimi says:

    Absolutely beautiful!

  2. A lovely luscious cake. A belated happy birthday! I would cry, too.

  3. Sounds beautifully decadent, like a birthday cake should be. I also think the best piece is the slice you have for breakfast the following morning. I hope your day was wonderful.

  4. Kara Salmela says:

    This is also considered Finnish wedding cake and a family favorite for birthdays! Must be our Duluth-Scando roots connecting us. My Birthday is in June and usually the strawberries are ripe, and so something about the fanciness but ease of this cake makes it a favorite for me too! Happy Birthday Emily. I love your blog

  5. Ashley says:

    I love your tradition of making your own birthday cake! I do the same and, while some people think it is sad/weird, I just love doing it. Your blotkake looks delicious, perfect for spring and summer!

  6. Barbara says:

    Love the cake! True European decadence with real ingredients. The photo has me drooling.

  7. Hannah says:

    Happy birthday, Emily! We adore blotkake and it’s become our birthday tradition, too. Your cake is just stunning and I’d happily eat a slice for breakfast.

    • Emily says:

      Thanks Hannah! I had a feeling you’d probably had the chance to try blotkake. How fun that it’s become your family birthday cake too!

  8. Sannebear says:

    Not too dissimilar from my mother’s rendition. We only do two layers, use fresh berries instead of jam, and then a creme anglais in the middle, any remaining berry juice is poured on the top, then covered with fresh whipped cream. You’re absolutely right about the breakfast piece! My sister and I always joke about how our mother touts the healthfulness of blotkake – grains, eggs, milk, fruit… We call it ‘Blotkake Bingo’. So, whenever we eat it and she goes into her spiel we mouth ‘bingo’ to each other and start giggling. She still hasn’t caught on to it – lol!

    • Emily says:

      Total health food! :) My tante Vigdis makes her version with creme anglaise in the middle layers and whipped cream on top, but for some reason no one in my family uses fresh berries in the middle layers, always jam! And I guess I’ve learned to like it best that way.

  9. Nicole says:

    This sounds like my kind of cake! Raspberry jam is my favorite kind of jam and it all just sounds perfect. My birthday is coming up soon and this might have to be my birthday cake, too. Beautiful. Congrats on your little bundle, too :)

  10. Angela says:

    I feel the name of this recipe fairly misleading, in a sense. While the idea is Norwegian, it is nothing like the classic sukkerbrød used in bløtkake. There are only four ingredients (sometimes three, omitting the baking powder), and not nearly as much flour. I can’t imagine this being remotely similar. I feel it must confuse those non-Norwegian speakers searching the web for a real Norwegian bløtkake recipe. The one I made tonight, for example was: 5 eggs, 200 g sugar, 200 g flour, and 1.5 tsp baking powder. You whisk the whole eggs with the sugar until you think your machine might just run (or fly) away, then some more, until ribbons fall and leave a lasting impression in the batter (doing it properly generally takes longer than most Norwegian recipes even call for). Then you sift and fold in your flour (mixed with baking powder, if using). I am sure what you have worked out is good, but is a whole different ball game. Almost all Norwegian recipes I have found for this online follow the same procedure and ingredients, but vary slightly on the amounts. Deceptively simple and beautiful. Everyone interested in cakes should try it.

  11. Angela says:

    What I mean to say is, it needn’t be over-complicated. Take out the baking powder (I did this successfully my first try, and it isn’t a problem if you have truly whipped those eggs enough), add cream and fruit, and there are five ingredients! (Though, typically, they are spooned-over with milk or diluted warmed jam before filling with cream, making them wet or “bløt”). But still, it’s astonishing what can come of those very few ingredients! It can also be made gluten free with potato flour. It is the best little-known cake secret, this simple one.

  12. Birgit Knutsen says:

    I’ve always had a version of this cake for my birthday, too. I turn 46 on Saturday — baking this cake sounds like the perfect gift!!

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  14. […] chose a recipe by Five and Spice, because it was in English (most Bløtkake online recipes are only in Norwegian), well written and […]

  15. Jessica says:

    I have been trying to make this cake, but I cannot for the life of me get it to rise! It will come out looking like a giant sugar cookie. What tips would you recommend to get it to rise in Florida’s environment. I haven’t tried your recipe exactly yet bc it has more ingredients than traditional ones.

    • Emily says:

      Hmmm. Are you using one of the traditional recipes that relies only on whipped egg whites and no baking powder or anything for leavening? In a humid environment it’s a lot harder for egg whites to do their job on their own. You might not be beating the egg whites stiff enough or you might need to add a leavening agent.

    • Angela Skeie says:

      The secret to a Norwegian sponge is whipping, whipping, and whipping those eggs and sugar. Once you think you have it, whip some more. You should be able to write “Ole” with the whisk and the ‘O’ still visible as you finish the ‘e.’ If it’s 10 minutes, or even 20, you need those eggs property whipped. It can be achieved without the addition of other rising agents–I have done this, and split it in three layers, too!

  16. […] Berit’s, lovely home-baked eplekake (apple cake).Berit’s ostekake (no-bake cheesecake).Bløtkake – a traditional vanilla cake with whipped cream, jam and […]

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