Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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In Scandinavia everything is seasonal, even sweets, with different cakes served in winter and summer. Although this tradition historically had to do with a scarcity of ingredients, it continues today. Winter means that nuts, dried fruit, and spices are used for flavoring, whereas summer offers an abundance of berries: strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, red and black currants, and rose hips. In particular, layer cake, variously known as lagkage, blødkage, and tårta, and traditional for birthday parties throughout Scandinavia, is made very differently depending on the season. In the summer a sponge cake is cut into three layers, each of which is spread with cold custard and fresh berries. In the winter, jam or plain whipped cream replaces the berries. See custard; layer cake; and sponge cake. The cake is usually decorated with marzipan, chocolate, or confectioner’s sugar. Layer cakes can be simple or elaborate, baked at home or bought from the local bakery. After World War II, new products like prebaked cake layers and instant custard powder came onto the Scandinavian market. With a jar of jam and whipped cream from a spray can, one could make a layer cake in 30 minutes, not an uncommon practice even today.