Swedish Princess Cake (Prinsesstårta) is a classic Scandinavian torte with layers of sponge cake, raspberry jam, vanilla custard, and whipped cream. It is traditionally dome-shaped and covered with a layer of sweet marzipan tinted green.
Princess Cake has been on my baking bucket list for ages. And I always seem to revisit the idea of making it in winter. Perhaps it’s because I’m longing for spring and all its pink blooms and greenery. One thing is for sure, it’s a cheery sight on a grey day! I think it would be perfect for upcoming spring holidays such as Mother’s Day and Easter.
A few days ago I decided to knuckle down and check mark the box next to Princess Cake. Instead of one big cake, I decided to make four little cakes. This gave me some good practice, which I needed because it turns out that it may be my new favorite cake – edging out Twelfth Night Cake by just a smidge!
History Behind the Cake
There’s a rich history behind Princess Cake, and you can find some interesting facts from a quick web search, but here’s a brief summary :
Prinsesstårta has its origins in the 1920’s with Jenny Akerstrom, a Swedish home economics guru who was an instructor to the three daughters of Prince Carl, Duke of Vastergotland: the Princesses Margaretha, Martha and Astrid. The cake was renamed Princess Cake rather than Gron Tarta or Green Cake because the Princesses loved the cake so much. Currently, the cake is baked all over Sweden and is popular for special occasions.
Building the layers.
This recipe has all of the cake’s original elements. Originally, I had written this recipe to be torted into four layers instead of three. Since them I’ve changed my decorum, and the recipe. Because most home bakers don’t make genoise regularly. It is notoriously difficult to keep the volume of the batter while folding it together. Most bakers can get three layers more easily. Where I depart from the original recipe is with the whipped cream. I stabilized it with gelatin so the dome would be sturdy under the weight of the marzipan. I am nothing if not paranoid of a cake wreck.
Green marzipan coating.
The recipe provided makes one 9-inch cake. I decided to get playful and make four minis. The pound of marzipan I bought covered three of the 5-inch cakes, so the fourth one received a coating of pink fondant. I have acquired a taste for fondant, but for fondant haters – you’ll want to use the best marzipan available.
I find the mini cakes easier to cover with the marzipan, and it’s easier to get a more perfectly round shape. However, there’s nothing like presenting the bigger version to dinner guests. It always gets plenty of oohs and aaahs.
You can make your own, but since this cake already has many steps I recommend purchasing it. I recently discovered Scott’s Cakes marzipan, and it was the perfect sweetness and texture for these cakes. It rolled out as well as any fondant I’ve used and created a smooth and even exterior.
A rose on top.
After covering the cakes, there was a small amount of marzipan left over, so I tinted it darker green to make some leaves. I ended up only using the little star shaped leaves for the base of the roses because it looked tidier on the finished cakes, somehow.
I received some cute ready-made white candy roses in my stocking for Christmas, so I painted them pink with food color dissolved in clear extract. They were perfect Princess Cake toppers. You can find them here.
All those flavorful components work together beautifully, and the cake has a nice lightness that makes it easy to go back for seconds! The raspberry jam provides a nice counter to all the creamy elements, and the marzipan coating lends a bright almond note. It is just my style, and I look forward to making it many times over!
Edit: 2/23 – It’s been a few years since I wrote this post and recipe. Recently I’ve received some emails with questions regarding the building of this cake, so I decided to make a video tutorial. I’ve updated some of the instructions and ingredients to be more approachable for the home baker. I hope this helps everyone who endeavors to make this delicious cake! It’s totally worth the effort.
Please note that I used Dr. Oetker marzipan in the video. It tastes wonderful but is slightly coarser, (not as smooth) as the marzipan from Scott’s cakes, which is what the cakes in the images are covered with.
Swedish Princess Cake (Prinsesstårta)
- 9 inch springform pan
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch or potato flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
Vanilla custard filling
- 1 cup whole milk
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Stabilized whipped cream
- 1 envelope .25 oz. powdered unflavored gelatin
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 2 cups heavy cream, whipped
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup raspberry jam
- Powdered sugar for dusting
- 1 lb. prepared marzipan
- Leaf green food color
- Ready made rose icing decorations I used Wilton
- Baker’s rose food color
- Clear extract any flavor
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and line a 9-inch round springform pan with parchment paper.
- Make the sponge: Place the eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat on high speed until pale and thickened. Properly whipped batter should be light and thick, and fall in a ribbon back into the bowl leaving trails of batter on the surface. Set a timer for 5 minutes; the mixture should triple in volume. In a separate bowl, whisk the flours (or cornstarch), baking powder and salt together. Carefully fold the dry mixture into the egg mixture until thoroughly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 27-30 minutes or until a toothpick tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool slightly in the pan for a few minutes then remove the springform collar. Peel away the parchment and let cool completely on a wire rack.
- Optional: The baked genoise will be lightweight and the exterior dry and firm. When it's completely cool, wrap the cake in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight to soften the cake's exterior. This will make it easier to cut. The cake can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Make the custard filling: Stir together the milk, egg yolks, cornstarch, and sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens. The minute the mixture starts to thicken, remove it from the heat source and whisk vigorously. Stir in the vanilla. Transfer to a bowl and let cool slightly. Press plastic wrap over the surface of the custard and refrigerate until firm. The chilled custard should be thick and hold in the bowl of a spoon.
- Make the stabilized whipped cream: Sprinkle the gelatin over the 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Let stand until set. Place the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whip attachment. Set mixer speed to medium and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add in the powdered sugar and then mix in the vanilla. Heat gelatin in the microwave for 5-7 seconds, or until completely liquid. Gradually add liquid gelatin to whipped cream in a thin stream with the mixer running. After all of the gelatin is added, increase mixer speed to high and beat to stiff peaks. Remove 1/2 cup of the whipped cream and set aside.
- Build the layers: Torte the cake into three layers using a serrated knife. The layers will be very thin so do this carefully. Place the bottom cake layer on a plate or cake board. Spread on the raspberry jam. Top with 1/2 of the custard filling. Top with a second cake layer. Spread over the remaining 1/2 of custard. Pile all of the whipped cream on top and smooth into a dome shape using a large spatula. Place the final cake layer on top and press down so that all of the cake’s edges are smoothed against the whipped cream and a dome shape is formed. Cover with the reserved 1/2 cup of stabilized whipped cream.
- Prep and cover with marzipan: Dust a work surface with powdered sugar. Knead the marzipan with your hands to soften and place it on the work surface. Add a small amount of leaf green food color to the marzipan and knead in until a consistent green color is achieved. Lightly add powdered sugar as needed to prevent sticking. Roll it to a large circle, lifting to occasionally dust underneath with powdered sugar to prevent sticking. Gently lay the marzipan circle over the top of the cake and use your hands to form the marzipan to the shape of the cake. Trim the excess marzipan from the bottom of the cake using a pizza or pastry wheel. Gently tuck the bottom edges of the marzipan under the cake using the back of a butter knife.
- Decors: Paint the white Wilton candy roses with a little Baker’s Rose food color dissolved in clear extract. Use a kitchen-dedicated art brush with soft bristles so the food color can easily be brushed between the petals.
- Tint leftover marzipan with a little more leaf green food color, and roll flat on a powdered sugar-dusted work surface. Cut small star-shaped flowers from the marzipan using a fondant cutter. Use leftover buttercream or a dot of corn syrup to attach the star shape to the bottom of the candy rose.
- Attach the rose to the top center of the cake using buttercream or a dot of corn syrup. Dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar using a small sieve.
- The cake needs to be refrigerated at least one hour, or overnight is best. Keep chilled until serving time and any leftovers need to be refrigerated as well.