Swedish sandwich cake

by | Jun 5, 2020

If you wanted to make it into Guinness Book of World Records, what would you do? Well, in 1985, a man named Hasse “Hasse P” Pettersson decided that he would put his slandered hometown Köping on the map again by making the world’s longest sandwich cake, or smörgåstårta. The record-winning cake turned out to be 510 meters and 69 centimetres, or 1675 feet and 5 inches. And yes, the record still stands.

Sandwich cakes are popular for graduation parties, daytime wedding receptions, and birthday celebrations in Sweden — especially in the summer.

smörgåstårta — Swedish sandwich cake

The history of the sandwich cake

Food historian Richard Tellström has done such a splendid job writing about the history of smörgåstårta that I cannot do much more than to bow my head. In a blog post at Taffel.se, he shares how sandwiches used to be popular for parties and how sandwich cakes became a convenient festive dish to serve to many people without making the event too formal.

In his blog post, Tellström mentions that the dish has existed at least since the 40s and that the oldest proof for the word “smörgåstårta” is from 1951. However, I’ve found a bakery ad in Svenska Dagbladet that mentions smörgåstårta as early as the 30th May 1945. This version uses a loaf of bread that is cut into layers. The filling is flavored with sprats or salmon and cheese or liver paté. Then it is decorated with piped salmon cream, egg slices, and dill.

An even older ad in Svenska Dagbladet, from 1929, mentions something called sandwichtårta, “sandwich cake”, but with no details on how this creation would look.

Apparently, the oldest known mention of smörgåstårta is in Söderhamns tidning in 1934 (thanks, Wikipedia). To make the cake “extra festive”, the recipe author suggests using different colors for coloring the butter used for spreading the bread.

smörgåstårta — Swedish sandwich cake
smörgåstårta — Swedish sandwich cake

How to make a Swedish sandwich cake

This version is luxurious, but you can easily make it less expensive by using less seafood — just add other things to the fillings and add a few prawns on top. It may look like a lot, but the cake is surprisingly simple to make. For 6-8 portions:

Ingredients

18 slices of bread (white, wholegrain, or dark)

Base cream:

2 1/2 dl (1 cup) mayonnaise
5 dl (2 cups) Greek yogurt
salt and white pepper

Cover cream:

1/4 of the base filling
200 gr (7 oz) cream cheese
1-2 tsp grated horseradish

Filling #1: Vegetables

1/4 of the base filling
100 gr (3 1/2 oz) raw or lightly steamed, cold asparagus (about 8-10 stems)
1/2 fennel bulb
2 1/2 dl (1 cup) arugula/rocket
2 tbsp chopped dill

Filling #2: Salmon and cucumber

1/4 of the base filling
125 gr (4 1/2 oz) smoked or cured salmon
1/3 cucumber
1 tsp Dijon mustard

Filling #3: Shrimps and egg

1/4 of the base filling
3 hard-boiled eggs
150 gr (5 1/3 oz) hand-peeled shrimps
1-2 tsp grated horseradish

Decorations:

Decorate however you like! These are suggestions, but you can easily use more or much less.

100 gr (3 1/2 oz) hand-peeled shrimps
100 gr (3 1/2 oz) smoked or cured salmon, in slices
3-4 raw or lightly steamed, cold asparagus stems
6 tsp red fish roe
1-2 tbsp chopped dill
1/2 lemon cut into slices
pea shoots or more dill for the sides

Method:

  1. Make the base filling: add mayonnaise and Greek yogurt to a large bowl and stir until it is evenly combined. Add salt and white pepper to taste. Take three more bowls, and add a quarter of base filling into each, saving a quarter in the first bowl.
  2. Make the cover cream: In the big bowl, add the cream cheese and stir well. Add 1-2 tsp horseradish. Stir, taste test, and adjust the seasoning.
  3. Make filling #1: Chop the asparagus, fennel, and arugula finely. Chop the dill. Stir it into one of the bowls. Taste test and see if you want to add more salt and pepper (or any other seasoning).
  4. Make filling #2: Roughly grate the cucumber, take it in your hands and squeeze out as much liquid as you can (you can save the liquid for flavoring your table water). Chop the salmon into small pieces. Add the cucumber, salmon, and mustard into one of the base filling bowls and stir. Taste test and adjust the seasoning.
  5. Make filling #3: Make sure the eggs are hard-boiled and cold. Chop the eggs (I go for a medium/fine chop). Chop the shrimps. Add the eggs, shrimps, and horseradish to one of the base filling bowls and stir. Taste test and adjust the seasoning.
  6. Assemble: Cut off the edges or crust of the bread. Cut six of the slices into half.
  7. Layer 1: Place three whole slices of bread into a tall rectangle. Add three half slices on the side, so the rectangle becomes wider. Make sure the bread slices are close to each other. Spread filling #1 evenly over them — try not to go over the edges.
  8. Layer 2: Remember how you put the first slices? Ideally, you want to create an overlapping pattern. Place the three whole slices on the side of the half ones, and the half slices on the side of the whole slices. Spread filling #2 evenly over them. Again, try not to go outside the edges too much.
  9. Layer 3: To continue overlapping, you’ll place the next three whole and three half bread slices as you did for the bottom layer. Spread filling #3 over the bread, still avoiding going over the edges.
  10. Top layer: Add the last three whole and three half bread slices as you did in layer #2. Spread the cover cream all over the cake’s top and sides.
  11. You can prepare until here the day before, and then decorate the day after. Ideally, you don’t want to decorate the cake much longer than a couple of hours before eating it.
  12. Decorate: Decorate the sandwich cake however you like. Ta-dah, your sandwich cake is ready!

Suggestions:

One rule, okay? Use what you like. Here are a few more tips:

  • You can prepare the cake the day before and then decorate it. Actually, the cake tastes better if it gets to rest a couple of hours after assembly before you eat it.
  • Try to not make your fillings too wet, or it will make the cake soggy. If you’re concerned about it becoming soggy, spread the bread with butter.
  • For a cheaper (and still delicious) sandwich cake, just make one big batch of filling and use the fancier ingredients as decorations.
  • Use white, wholegrain, dark bread — or a combination.
  • Vary the fillings however you like. You can use mayonnaise, crème fraîche, Greek yogurt, cream cheese, or even whipped cream (though I find cream a bit unstable) as a base for the fillings — one or a mix.
  • Some sandwich cakes mix meat and seafood or fish on the same cake. Yeah, I know. Go for whatever you like yourself.
  • Don’t be shy to give the fillings a good amount of flavor. Don’t like horseradish? Use something else.

A few flavor suggestions:

Meat: liver paté + finely sliced smoked ham + roast beef
Italian flavors: basil pesto and feta cheese + parma ham and sun-dried tomato + garlic cream cheese
Vegetarian: basil pesto and feta cheese + red pesto/sun-dried tomatoes
Vegan: hummus + tzatziki + mashed avocado

Popular flavors for fillings or toppings for decoration:

  • Shrimps
  • Chopped seafood such as crabsticks, crab, or crayfish
  • Cured or smoked salmon shaped into roses
  • Black or red fish roe
  • Rolled smoked or boiled ham
  • Rolled slices of roast beef or smoked meat
  • Bacon
  • Salami
  • Liver paté
  • Rolled slices of cheese
  • Feta or mozzarella cheese
  • Sliced or chopped egg
  • Sliced grapes
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Olives
  • Radishes
  • Large capers
  • Lemon slices
  • Sliced asparagus
  • Sliced avocado
  • Cocktail tomatoes
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Chopped arugula or baby spinach
  • Herbs such as dill, parsley, or basil

2 Comments

  1. Linda

    I love your recipes and videos. Plus your historical background and that you use measures in cups too. Not just Swedish measures or by weight . Thank you!

    Reply
    • Isabelle Fredborg

      Ah Linda, thank you so much for your kind comment! Glad you appreciate it.

      Reply

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Hej och välkommen!

My name is Isabelle. Here at Swedish Spoon, you’ll find Swedish food history, tried-and-tested recipes, and a lot of obsessing over great butter. You can also expect some travel tips.

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