Apr 30
2010

Two Swedish Princess Tortes Comin’ Right Up!

in Culinary Adventurism, Dessert, Recipes by Type


Last month some dear friends of mine asked me if I would be willing to take on a project—making the cake for a bridal shower that they were throwing.  Specifically they wanted a Swedish Princess Torte, because the bride had lived and studied in Sweden and had fallen in love with this cake while there.  They had called around to a couple of bakeries who had never heard of the cake, and then had the thought that I might be willing to take on the project.  Um, exciting challenging baking project? Me? Heck yeah!  A Swedish Princess Torte is usually made for birthdays and other special occasions. It is a sponge cake that has a cream filling and the layers are brushed with a simple syrup and jam. The cake is frosted with buttercream and then a light green marzipan topping is rolled and stretched over the entire cake.  We determined that one cake might not be enough, and so I would need to make two.

Princess Torte all dressed up

The Story of 2 Swedish Princess Tortes

These 2 tortes were a community effort, because I could never have pulled them off without the help of a few very important people.  First of all—Mr. Fuji.  He patiently listened to me worry and talk through the torte process all week last week!  He didn’t complain that we ate leftovers for several days because I had been up to my elbows in genoise batter and there was very little clean counterspace between the stacks of mixing bowls, whisks, and springform pans.

Making the tortes was one thing, but then I realized I had another problem on my hands.  How in the world was I going to transport 2 tortes that were supposed to be refrigerated until serving from my house to another house that was an hour drive away?  I think it was this thought that started me hyperventilating.  That’s when I emailed Helen (Tartelette).  Not only was I using her recipe for genoise and for pastry cream, but she is a knowledgeable and skilled pastry chef and a dear friend.  She helped me devise a plan for transportation and also suggested adding a bit of powdered gelatin to the pastry cream to help it be more stable (thus helping the whole cake be more stable during transportation).  The plan: Put both the tortes in cake carriers and put the cake carriers in coolers filled with dry ice.  I own one cake carrier, but of course no one that lives near me seemed to have one I could borrow, so I found myself at Walmart at 6am on Thursday morning buying a 2nd cake carrier.  This turned out to be a lucky turn of events, because I had the thought of taking 2 of the cake carriers over to the cooler section to make sure that I could actually put a cake carrier in a cooler.  No. Ha!  The only cooler that was wide enough to fit even one cake carrier was a coffin-sized cooler.  Yeah, um, that wasn’t going to happen.  I think I almost cried right there and then.  Then I took the cake carriers over to the plastic storage bin section and started trying to fit them into various sized plastic bins.  I finally found a 35 gallon (132 liter) sized plastic bin that was wide enough and long enough.  The 2 cake carriers fit side by side with no room to spare.  Phew!

Tortes all packed up and ready to go

Finally, on Friday when I was assembling the tortes with my heart about pumping out of my chest, I tweeted about the process and Gail (@THEToughCookie) started cheering me on.  I was reallly nervous about the final marzipan layer.  I have handled fondant and marzipan before, but have never covered a cake with either.  Gail ended up giving me a call and talking me through the marzipan process, giving me valuable tips and encouraging me.  She had seen pictures of the cakes so far and said that I had a good solid foundation, that I was not going to have any problems, and that I could do it.  I decided that if Gail said I could do it, then I could do it.  I mean, have you seen what she can do? Phenomenal!  I proceeded with confidence and added the marzipan layer to each of the cakes.  The marzipan layers were the only part of the cakes that gave me any trouble.  They were darn near perfect until I reached the part where I had to finish smoothing the layer at the bottom of the cake.  This is where you are trying to finish smoothing out any folds and ripples.  The marzipan was cracking and just starting to be impossible to work with, so both of the cakes did end up having a few areas that weren’t perfectly smooth.  Sigh.  As soon as the cakes were finished, I loaded them into their cake carriers and then into the plastic bin, and off I went!  I think my heart was pounding through the entire drive.  I had visions of arriving to find cakes that looked like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or worse yet, like a natural disaster zone.  But when I arrived, the cakes looked the same as when I had left. I had done it!!!

From what I’ve been told, the tortes were a big hit, and my friends were kind enough to take some pictures of the cakes decorated, and of the interior so you can get an idea of what they looked like!

Princess Torte with a slice missingServing up a slice of Princess Torte

How to Assemble a Swedish Princess Torte

You will have to bear with me here.  While planning and executing this cake, I looked and looked for a visual tutorial on how to assemble one of these suckers, and just wasn’t finding anything super helpful.  So I would like to walk you through what it looks like to assemble a Swedish Princess Torte.  The tortes I made were slightly less traditional, as the dome was a genoise dome filled with flavored whipped cream, not just whipped cream as many recipes call for.  I started out by making two batches of genoise for each torte, and then slicing each genoise into 3 layers.  To build the dome, I lined a glass bowl (8-inches in diameter, 1.5 quarts in volume) with plastic wrap, then cut two of the genoise layers into long fingers that were one-inch wide.

Slice a layer of genoise into fingers

I then lined the bowl with the fingers of genoise, fitting the pieces tightly together like a jigsaw puzzle.  I started out laying the fingers side by side, and then filled in the gaps with pieces that I cut to fit, and then finally, with pieces that ran around the bowl.

Lining a bowl with genoise

Then I filled the cake-lined bowl with flavored whip cream.

Filling the genoise dome with sweetened whipped cream

Next I brushed a layer of genoise with a soaking syrup, and fit it on top of the lined bowl.

Putting a layer of genoise on the whip cream filled genoise bowl

Then I built the rest of the cake, by brushing each layer of cake with soaking syrup, then a layer of pastry cream, cake, flavored whipped cream, strawberry jam, and a final layer of cake.

Spreading on the strawberry jam layer

Then I wrapped the cakes in plastic wrap and put them into the refrigerator to set up for several hours.

Princess Torte assembled and ready to go into the refrigerator to set up

When they had finished setting up, I took them out and inverted them onto cardboard rounds, and then held my breath as I carefully unmolded them from their glass bowls.  Miraculously they came out without any problems!

About to unmold the torte...biting fingernails...Torte unmolded and still in one piece!!!

Next I spread a crumb coat of buttercream over each torte, making the surface of the tortes as smooth as possible so that the marzipan layers would go on smoothly.

Buttercream crumb layer

Finally, I kneaded the green food coloring into the marzipan, rolled it out,

Rolling out the marzipan

and then smoothed it onto the cake, starting at the top and slowly and carefully smoothing it down the sides of the cake.

Marzipan draped over the Princess Torte

When I was finished I trimmed off the extra and was done!

Finished Swedish Princess Torte ready to be packed up

Print This Recipe

Swedish Princess Torte

Adapted from Tartelette’s recipe and Baking Obsession’s recipe

Makes approximately 16 servings

For the Soaking Syrup: (adapted from Baking Obsession’s soaking syrup recipe)

1/2 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons berry juice (combination of blueberry/raspberry/strawberry juices), optional

Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan, and heat over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves and the syrup comes to a boil.  Cool.  Right before using, stir in the berry juice if you are using it.

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For the Pastry Cream: (adapted from Tartelette’s pastry cream recipe)

2 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups half-and-half, divided
3 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon powdered gelatin
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1. In a small bowl filled with 1/4 cup of cold water, sprinkle the powdered gelatin over the surface of the water and set aside.  In a separate small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, sugar, and egg yolks. Slowly add in 1/2 cup of the half-and-half and whisk until smooth. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the remaining half and half to a boil, then slowly whisk the hot cream into the egg yolk/cornstarch mixture to temper the eggs.

2. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens to a custard. This should take about 5 minutes. It is important to constantly stir to prevent the bottom from curdling or burning. If the pastry cream does curdle, whisk it vigorously with a balloon whisk until it is smooth, and if that does not work, pass the the cream through a mesh sieve. Take the pastry cream off the heat, stir in the softened gelatin, and keep stirring until the gelatin is completely melted and incorporated.1 teaspoon of gelatin softened in water to the pastry cream to make it hold better. Add it when you just remove it from the stove and stir until completely melted.  Stir in the vanilla and then pour the pastry cream into a bowl to let it cool. Press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming while it cools. Let it cool to room temperature before refrigerating.

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For the Cake: Make 2 batches of Tartelette’s genoise.

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For the Swiss Buttercream: Make one batch of Baking Obsession’s Swiss Buttercream

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For the Marzipan Coating:

Two 7 oz packages marzipan
Green food coloring
Powdered sugar for dusting

Break the marzipan into small pieces into a medium bowl and knead with your hands to smooth it out.  Add 3 or 4 drops of green food coloring and knead it into the marzipan to turn it a pale shade of green.  Dust your work surface with powdered sugar. Shape the marzipan into a 6-inch disk and coat both sides lightly with powdered sugar. Roll the marzipan to a circle about 16 inches in diameter and less than 1/8 inch thick. Add more powdered sugar to your work surface as needed to prevent it from sticking.

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To Assemble the Torte:

Genoise, soaking syrup, and pastry cream
2 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup seedless strawberry jam
Marzipan Coating

1. Cut the cakes into 3 equal layers and set aside.  Line a bowl (5 to 6 cups in volume capacity and 8-inches in diameter) with plastic wrap.  Cut 2 of the cake layers into long fingers, 1-inch in width.  Fit the fingers tightly into the bottom and up the sides of the lined bowl, and then lightly brush them with the soaking syrup.

2. Whip the heavy cream with the sugar and vanilla extract until stiff peaks form.  Measure out a scant cup of the whipped cream and set aside.  Transfer the rest of the whipped cream into the genoise-lined bowl and smooth the surface of the cream.  Trip one layer of genoise slightly to fit into the bowl, brush it lightly with the soaking syrup, and place it syrup side down over the layer of the whipped cream.

3. Brush the other side of the cake with the soaking syrup.  Spread the chilled pastry cream over this layer.  Now trim a new layer of cake and brush it with the soaking syrup and place this layer syrup side down over the pastry cream.

4. Brush the other side of the cake with the soaking syrup, and spread the reserved scant cup of whipped cream over it.  Finally, trim a final layer of cake and brush it with the soaking syrup, then grently spread the strawberry jam over it.  Carefully place this layer, jam side down, over the whipped cream layer.

5. Place a cardboard cake round over the final layer, and wrap the entire cake in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for at least two hours (or overnight).

6. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and unwrap it.  Put a small dab of the buttercream onto the cake cardboard to secure it to the serving platter.  Place the serving platter over the cake and carefully invert it, and then unmold the cake.  Lightly moisten the top of the cake with the soaking syrup and then spread a thin layer of the buttercream over the top and sides of the cake.  Make this layer as smooth as possible, in order to insure that your marzipan layer will go on smoothly.  Refrigerate the cake for two hours to firm up.

7. Finally, remove the cake from the refrigerator and drape the rolled out layer of marzipan over the cake.  Gently press and smooth down the marzipan so that it adheres to the cake.  Start from the top, and work your way down and around the sides of the cake.  To remove the folds and creases, lift the outside edge of the marzipan with a hand on either side of a fold, and gently pull the marzipan out and down until the fold disappears.  Work your way around the cake repeating this process until all of the folds are eliminated.  Then rub the palm of your hand around the sides of the cake to further smooth it and eliminate any air pockets.

8. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, carefully trim away the excess marzipan along the bottom oedge of the cake (the cardboard should not show).  Refrigerate the finished torte until ready to serve.

{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

wendy April 30, 2010 at 9:47 am

Goodness sakes, you are amazing! Those cakes look stunning! Well done :)

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shannie b April 30, 2010 at 9:50 am

I love that you made these! When we were in Japan, we found these in the freezer section of Ikea and my kids LOVE them. We can find them here, too, but I’d love to make my own and I’m so glad you did! :D WOOT!

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Lisa W April 30, 2010 at 9:51 am

So impressive! You’ve inspired me to take this on for a friend’s bday.
Great job!
Lisa

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LilSis April 30, 2010 at 9:54 am

These are beautiful! I am totally impressed!

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food librarian April 30, 2010 at 9:55 am

Amazing! So beautiful and a huge labor of love!

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Terra April 30, 2010 at 9:55 am

Those look amazing, and DELICIOUS!!!!!!!! You are up to a task, that’s for sure!

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Paula - bell'alimento April 30, 2010 at 9:57 am

STUNNING! Just stunning! Now, I’d like two for my birthday as well. Go ahead and book your plane ticket ; )

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Josie - Daydreamer Desserts April 30, 2010 at 9:59 am

Wow, the tortes turned out spectacular! What an amazing job!

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Michelle {Brown Eyed Baker} April 30, 2010 at 9:59 am

What a gorgeous cake! I love it!

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Maria April 30, 2010 at 9:59 am

WOW!! You did an amazing job!!!

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Amber Smith April 30, 2010 at 10:02 am

Gosh you make it look so easy! Thanks for the tutorial :)

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Kate @ Savour Fare April 30, 2010 at 10:04 am

You are a brave woman — I’m not sure I would take on this process. I’d probably just suggest they go to Ikea (which does sell Princess Tortes).

The bottom is always the hardest part when you’re covering a cake with marzipan or fondant. What I often do is put a ribbon or other decoration around the bottom for display. The ribbon can be secured with a single push pin and then removed before you cut the cake.

You can see it here:

http://savour-fare.com/2009/12/22/fruitcake-part-ii-making-it-pretty/

On my wedding cake I had some of the decorations along the bottom.

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) April 30, 2010 at 3:01 pm

@Kate @ Savour Fare, Yes, I’ve had the IKEA princess tortes before, but they’re quite a bit simpler than the torte my friends wanted, and a slightly different style! These tortes were quite tall! But, this was a paying job, so I couldn’t complain! :) Yes, I’ve seen the ribbon technique before, but my friends wanted it simple and to decorate it with fresh flowers themselves.

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Sue April 30, 2010 at 10:46 am

Your cakes look absolutely flawless and beautiful! Delicious too!

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Emily April 30, 2010 at 10:48 am

I’ve had these before, they are sooo good. It looks like a lot of work. They turned out really pretty.

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Cookin' Canuck April 30, 2010 at 11:38 am

You did a fantastic job on these! I’m amazed at how even you made the cakes so that the fondant laid so smoothly. Well done!

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LollyChops April 30, 2010 at 11:48 am

How totally awesome! I felt like I was reading an adventure story!

I cannot believe you did not get to taste the cakes you made! They really came out beautifully!

HUGS sweetest pea!

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Tracy April 30, 2010 at 12:23 pm

How cute! I love these!

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scrapper al April 30, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Impressive! You did great!

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bunkycooks April 30, 2010 at 1:16 pm

These are really pretty! I am impressed with the great job on the fondant. That stuff is a toughie!

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Megan April 30, 2010 at 1:30 pm

That sounds like it would be a fun challenge. Stressful, but fun.

Your cake looks perfect. You did a beautiful job!

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Jenny Flake April 30, 2010 at 1:34 pm

WHOA, now that is some preparation girl! It looks beautiful and oh so delicious! Very nice work, totally impressed!

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qsogirl April 30, 2010 at 1:55 pm

gorgeous! I bet they tasted *so* good :)

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jenjenk April 30, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Rachael!!! this is AWESOME!!!! i’m so impressed!!!! Next year at my birthday, I’ll be sure to give you at least a month’s notice for what you’ll need to make for me! :)

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Lyndsey April 30, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Wow, I am so impressed! That was so nice of you to take on this challenge. I was also nice that you have a lot of baker friends. They look just stunning! You made a brides dream come true :)

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Gail April 30, 2010 at 5:34 pm

The TRUTH of the matter is that you did a magnificent job on your own. You didn’t need me, really , at all. I was the long distance cheerleader, chanting “You can do it! You can do it!” The only thing missing was the pom-poms. Spectacular job, absolutely spectacular!

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Eileen April 30, 2010 at 7:54 pm

We soooooooo appreciated Rachael taking this project on. We’re very aware of how busy this amazing lady is but as we were looking at it online I said to my daughter, “I think Rachael might be willing to give it a try.” We were so thankful that she did. It was the centerpiece of a lovely evening. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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Erin April 30, 2010 at 8:14 pm

Thank you again Rachael, I can’t say it enough! They were perfect and so yummy! They got better as time passed too, I took leftovers to work on Wednesday because I had been talking about you and cakes and we finished them up, everyone was very impressed and thought they looked and tasted terrific!

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Marc @ NoRecipes April 30, 2010 at 9:21 pm

WOW…. wow…. that’s impressive. I used to live near a czech bakery that made these and I loved how they were filled with pastry cream. Yours actually looks much better, but I don’t think I’d ever have the patience to make one. Nice job!

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Melanie (Kimono Reincarnate) May 1, 2010 at 4:55 am

Wow! I mean really, wow! Such a stunning cake and a wonderful story of its creation!

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zerrin May 1, 2010 at 6:41 am

This doesn’t look like any other cakes I’ve seen or eaten. Absolutely FANTASTIC! And it was also nice to read your story before transporting the cakes.

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Michelle May 1, 2010 at 7:00 am

Now I know why you were so busy! Gorgeous, simply GORGEOUS! Love the color green you used too, perfect for the shape of the torte and the spring season too.

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katie May 1, 2010 at 8:25 am

I was lucky enough to enjoy one piece of these tortes, you are truly gifted and amazing!
Just looking at the pictures of these stresses me out, I don’t know how you handled it?!!

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Linn @ Swedish home cooking May 2, 2010 at 12:44 am

I know, isn’t this cake just amazing. I love princess cake. It’s hard to find anywhere else than Sweden though. We should export it!!

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Holly May 2, 2010 at 3:04 am

Your skills honestly blow me away! They turned out so perfect I can hardly stand it! You’re so SO sweet to share your hard work and recipes with us <3

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Amanda May 2, 2010 at 8:45 am

I am in total awe. These are freakin amazing!!

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The Cilantropist May 2, 2010 at 10:14 am

These are stunning and I love the green color! You should join daring bakers. :)

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) May 2, 2010 at 11:26 am

@The Cilantropist, Thanks! I am a Daring Baker! I’ve been a member for over two years now!

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The Cilantropist May 2, 2010 at 12:19 pm

@Fuji Mama (Rachael), ahhh, when I was reading the post I must have been so engrossed that I missed the Daring Kitchen badge on the sidebar! ;) I guess I should have known that only a true daring baker could have pulled off this dessert. Great work again, and I can’t wait to see more of your fantastic creations!

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Elaine May 2, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Awesome cakes !!!

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justine May 2, 2010 at 1:09 pm

your cakes are beautiful to say the least!

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Sara May 3, 2010 at 11:53 am

Again no words do this post justice. Absolutely beatiful! Stellar job my friend!

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Maggy May 3, 2010 at 12:52 pm

These are so impressive!! All I can say is WOW! They are both beautiful and I’m sure delicious.

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Charees May 3, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Now I just have to make one! Thanks!

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Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction May 3, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Absolutely GORGEOUS! I’m feeling strangely inspired to give this a try now, too… Although, I’m sure mine wouldn’t look as great as yours!

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Sarah May 4, 2010 at 4:47 am

I do hope you made one (at least a little one) for yourself so you and your family got to enoy your hard work too!

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Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite May 7, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Rachael that is an absolutely stupendous job. I think I need to get married just so I can have you make me a cake!

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Memoria May 8, 2010 at 12:44 pm

APPLAUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOW! Good job to you and all of your helpers!!! You all did a FANTASTIC job. This cake is wonderful. I’ve never heard of it, but now you will be the go-to person for this cake at least on the internet! :D

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Marti May 8, 2010 at 1:54 pm

So how would you describe your feelings about the efforts, Rachael?

Was it fun?
Do you feel satisfied that you “hit the spot” for the bride?
Did you enjoy the process?
WOULD YOU DO IT AGAIN?
And um, how did it taste? Did you and Mr. Fuji gave a bite or two?

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) May 8, 2010 at 2:29 pm

@Marti, I always love a challenge, so yes it was fun, and of course I was happy because the bride was happy! Yes, I would do it again, especially for another paying client. But no, I didn’t get to taste it, because it was for the bridal shower, which I did not attend.

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Jen September 15, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Holy mackerel. I was looking for that gorgeous white cake with strawberries I see in your header, but THIS…wow…I think my eyeballs just flip-flopped with delight…

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Amber July 5, 2011 at 7:41 pm

There is also another type of swedish cake that is covered in whipped cream and stawberries that is generally served on bdays. IT IS AWESOME!!!!!!!

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Amber July 5, 2011 at 7:48 pm

I travelled in sweden before and this cake was not traditional and if that were me (as the bride) I would be really dissapointed that it was different than I remembered and asked for. Also, my 12 yr. old daughter made one of these herself and it doesnt take much talent. (unless my daughter’s a genius) The assembly looked wrong. Usually the cream goes in between the marzipan and the cake.

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Hailey October 24, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Thank you soo much!
I am czech and princess cake is very popular in the czech republic, but when I came to the U.S. I could not find a princess cake or the recipe for one anywhere! But thanks to you, I can make one for my family! Thanks

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Heather | Farmgirl Gourmet January 4, 2012 at 8:05 pm

Yum…and Beautiful! Great job!

xoxo
Heather

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