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The World's Best Cake - Kvæfjordkaka from Norway

December 18, 2017

 

Kvæfjord cake is a delicious cake from North of Norway topped with crisp meringue, vanilla cream and almonds, and is also often called Verdens Beste, which means "Best of the World".  In North of Norway, where I grew up, this cake is on every households coffee tables at every occasion where cakes are served. I always loved this cake. It is just sweet enough, and the texture of the meringue and almonds are great. In September 2002, Kvæfjordkaka was voted to be Norway's national cakes by "Ni-timen"'s listeners, a popular Norwegian radio program. 

 

The recipe originated in the mid 1930's. A lady from Kvæfjord in North of Norway named Hulda Attested, and her  sister,  owned a fine up-scale cafe called Café Alliance in a small city in North of Norway called Harstad. They purchased two cake recipes in Denmark for 200 Norwegian Crowns (which was a lot of money back then). One of the recipes was called King Cake. The cake was topped with lot's of almonds, which were very costly those days, and was a cake fit for royals and rich people. They modified the cake a little, f.ex. by using fewer almonds to make it more affordable. It was once served in a christening and the guests all wanted to know what the cake was called and to know more about it The host could not remember the name of the lady she got it from and just said, "you know, the lady from Kvæfjord".  After that, everybody called it Kvæfjordkaka. It is believed that the Meringue is supposed to resemble mountains. Kvæfjordkaka has its own friends association called Kvæfjordkaka's friends. The association works to promote cakes, but also to focus on value creation in districts. 

 

The only problem with this cake is that once you serve it to someone, they either ask for the recipe or they want you to bring it every time you come over. Be ware!

 

Here is how you make it:

 

The "Cake":

 

 

 

 

1. Line two 9x13 baking pans (or one 18x26) with parchment paper (I usually grease the pans with a little butter first so the paper stays put).

 

 

 

 

2. Separate the egg yoke from the egg whites. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. In a large bowl, whip the room tempered butter and 100 gram sugar (a little less than 1/2 cup) with an electrical mixer until it changes color to very light (in Norway we say white, but it definitely has a yellow tint). It should take about 5 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Add, one at the time while mixing on the lowest setting, the egg yokes, flour, baking powder and milk and mix until well blended together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Using a butter knife, spread the batter in a thin layer in both the baking dishes, or if using one larger pan, just spread it onto that one pan. I find this part the hardest part in making this cake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Meringue:

 

You need to be using a completely clean, completely dry bowl when making the meringue. And the eggs have to be organic (in the U.S.A.)

 

Set the oven at 320F.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Add the egg whites to the bowl and start whipping with an electrical mixer. Slowly pour in the cup of sugar. Whip until the Meringue is completely stiff (you should be able to turn the bowl up side down without spilling anything). This may take 10-15 minutes, but sometimes it takes less time. When it start looking like meringue try turning the bowl upside down. If it moves, you need to whip more. 

 

 

 

2. Add the meringue in equal amounts (about 4-5 heaped spoons to each form) to the top of the cake batter with a table spoon and use the back of the spoon in swirly motions to evenly spread the meringue so it covers all the batter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Drizzle slivered or halved almonds on top of each cake. Some people blanch whole almonds and divide them in half lengthwise. Some people sliver or chop the almonds. In the photo to the left I drizzled slivered almonds, and in the photo of the cake on top of the page, you can see I used halved blanched almonds. Does not matter which way you choose.

 

4. Bake the cake at 320F for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely in the forms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Vanilla Cream/Filling:

 

In Norway they sell a delicious vanilla cream at the stores, but here in the U.S.A. I use Vanilla Pudding and Pie Filling. If you want to make vanilla cream from scratch instead, you can find the recipe at the bottom of this page. 

 

 

1. Make the vanilla pudding as directed on the pack, except use 2 cups of milk instead of 3. Stir the entire time. Move the pudding over to a bowl to cool down. Once cool, put it in the refridgerator. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Once both the cakes and the pudding are cold, gently lift one of the cakes out of the baking pan by grabbing the parchment paper on each side. Put it on your counter top. Take a flat knife and slide between the cake and the paper to make sure it does not stick together. Gently lift the cake, either by using two flat knifes under the cake, or using your hands, and put it onto the serving dish. If the cakes have some cracks in the meringue, don't fret, no-one will notice. 

 

If using 1 large pan instead of two, now you cut the cake in half down the middle so you end up with two 9x13 pieces. Lift one of the pieces over to a serving platter or tray.

 

 

 

3. Whip the heavy whipping cream until stiff enough to where you can turn the bowl up side down without spilling, but it is important not to over-mix as it starts turning into butter then. When it starts looking like cream I slow the speed to low to have more control and chances of over whipping smaller.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.  Mix in the pie filling using the lowest speed. When it is completely blended, spread the vanilla cream evenly on top of the first layer of cake. Remove the other cake from it’s pan and put on top of the vanilla cream.

Enjoy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is what you need:

 

100 gram butter (little less than one stick) – at room temperature

100 gram sugar (a little less than ½ cup)

4 egg yokes (organic eggs is a must in this cake)

2 dl. (3/4 cup + 1 ½ tbsp.) All purpose flour

1 ½ tsp. baking powder

3 tbsp. milk

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4 egg whites

2 ½ dl. (1 cup) sugar

50 gram slivered almonds

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1 large pack of vanilla pie filling (5.1 oz.)

2 cups milk

1 pint (473 ml.) organic heavy whipping cream

 

You also need two 9”x13” rectangular baking pans (or one twice the size), a serving plate or tray that would fit a 9”x13” cake, parchment paper and electrical mixer.

 

Instructions:

In a large bowl, whip the butter and 100 gr. Sugar with an electrical mixer until it becomes white in color (about 5 minutes). Add the egg yokes, flour, baking powder and milk and mix until it is all well blended together.

 

Line two baking pans with parchment paper. (If you slide a stick of butter along the sides and bottom of the pans before you put the paper, the paper should  stay in place). With a flat butter knife, spread the batter evenly in a thin layer in each of the forms (this is the “hardest” part of making the cake).

 

Set the oven at 320F. Add the egg whites to a clean and completely dry bowl and start whipping with an electrical mixer. Slowly pour in the cup of sugar. Whip until the Meringue is completely stiff (you should be able to turn the bowl up side down without spilling anything).

 

Add the meringue in equal amounts (about 4-5 heaped spoons to each form) to the top of the cake batter with a table spoon and use the back of the spoon in swirly motions to evenly spread the meringue so it covers all the batter. Drizzle slivered almonds on top of each cake.

 

Bake the cake at 320F for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in the forms.

 

Meanwhile make the vanilla pudding as directed on the pack, except use 2 cups of milk instead of 3. Put the pudding in the fridge to make sure it gets completely cold.

 

When the cakes and pudding are cold, gently lift one of the cakes out of the baking pan by grabbing the parchment paper on each side. Put it on your counter top. Take a flat knife and slide between the cake and the paper to make sure it does not stick together. Gently lift the cake, either by using two flat knifes under the cake, or using your hands, and put it onto the serving dish.

 

Whip the heavy whipping cream until stiff enough to where you can turn the bowl up side down without spilling. Then mix in the pie filling using low speed. When it is completely blended, spread the vanilla cream evenly on top of the cake. Remove the other cake from it’s pan and put on top of the vanilla cream.

Enjoy

 

 

If you want to make Vanilla Cream from scratch:

 

100 grams sugar

35 grams corn meal flour 

1/2 vanilla bean

4 egg yokes

2 1/2 deciliter milk

 

Whisk the egg yolks with corn flour and sugar into a bowl. Pour the milk into a saucepan. Split the vanilla bean, and scrape the contents and add to the pan (including the bean). Boil the liquid and pour some of the boiling liquid into the bowl with the egg mixture while stirring. Then, put it back in the pan and stir constantly until it thickens. Make sure it does not burn. Move to a large shallow dish and cover with plastic wrap. (Large shallow dish is so it can cool quickly). 

 

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