Monday, May 27, 2013

May Daring Bakers Challenge - Prinsesstarta

Oh my gosh, it's the end of the month!

Korena of Korena in the Kitchen was our May Daring Bakers’ host and she delighted us with this beautiful Swedish Prinsesstårta!

First let me tell you how happy I was to see the challenge posted. Not because of the topic, but because of the hostess. If you don't know Korena, you should. Go check out her blog. She is a truly wonderful person with mad kitchen skills.

 I was not familiar with what a Swedish Prinsesstarta was before seeing this challenge.  Prinsesstarta translates to "Princess cake," and this confection is truly worthy of royalty.  It is a domed cake consisting of layers of cake, custard, jam and whipped cream, all covered in marzipan and decorated with marzipan roses.


I will be honest - beautiful and impressive as this cake looked, and as thoroughly as Korena laid out the whole recipe, I was scared.

For starters, half of the components of this cake are no-no's for little man, so I knew I'd be working on finding suitable substitutes. Secondly, while I am decent at baking, I have never claimed to have any skill whatsoever when it comes to decorating.

After a bit of searching, I decided on the following substitutions - instead of marzipan (which is made of almonds, and little man is allergic to nuts) I chose to make marshmallow fondant. Instead of the given custard recipe (dairy and eggs - two more allergies), I made a vegan custard using coconut milk and cornstarch.  And, finally, instead of regular whipped cream, I tried my hand at coconut milk whipped cream. Oh, and instead of shaping the rose decorations out of my fondant, since I don't like using food coloring, I cut strawberries into roses for the decoration.

It took me all month to work up the courage to tackle this one, and I had many challenges along the way, but I am proud to say that I did complete it, and that it tasted wonderful!

I don't have full step-by-step photos and narrative for this for two reasons. First, half of those components are sticky and messy to work with, and I couldn't stop to wash my hands to take photos at each step.  Second... well... I have to admit that I almost gave up part way through. Between tearing my cake layers, my fondant being too stick and my coconut milk whipped cream being way looser than I'd expected, I really thought I had a flop on my hands there for a little while. 

Oh, and because there are just so many recipes at the bottom that I didn't want this post to be so wordy that no one would read it.

Suffice it to say, though, that I am super glad that I was able to participate this month and, problems or not, I think this cake was beautiful and delicious. The whole family enjoyed it and it really was quite fun.

Korena, thank you so much for this truly challenging challenge. I never would have tried my hand at this without your guidance and encouragement!

To check out the other beautiful and truly impressive cakes baked up in the kitchen this month, check them out here.

The recipes I used:

Sponge Cake
(from the challenge)

Fine dry breadcrumbs for the pan (such as crushed panko)
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F and place the rack in the lower third of the oven. Thoroughly butter a 9” round springform pan, then line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper, then butter the paper. Dust the buttered pan with enough breadcrumbs to coat the bottom and sides, just like flouring a cake pan. Set the prepared pan aside.
Place the eggs and granulated white sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment fitted, and beat on medium-high speed until the eggs have tripled in volume and are very light colored and fluffy, about 5 minutes. The mixture should fall from the beaters in thick ribbons. Don’t overbeat the eggs – once they form thick ribbons and stop growing in volume, stop beating.
Sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt into a bowl, then sift the flour mixture over the whipped eggs. Using a whisk, fold the flour into the eggs until blended, keeping as much air in the batter as possible. Use large, gentle yet confident strokes, bringing batter from the bottom of the bowl to the top. Once mixed, the batter should be quite thick and smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it out evenly, and bake in the lower third of the preheated moderate 350°F oven for about 40 minutes or until golden brown on top, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it.
Let the cake cool in the pan for a few minutes then run a knife around the edge and remove the sides of the springform pan. Don’t worry if it sinks a bit in the middle.
Invert the cake onto a cooling rack and peel off the parchment paper. If the cake is lopsided, press gently to make it level, then allow it to cool completely before continuing. The cake can be made a day ahead and stored, well-wrapped in plastic, at a cool room temperature.

Coconut Vanilla Custard

1/4 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup coconut milk (I used coconut milk beverage)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Allow the sugar to dissolve and boil the mixture for about 2 minutes.
In a medium bowl or right in your measuring cup, whisk together coconut milk, vanilla extract and cornstarch, making sure there are no lumps.
Remove suacepan from heat and gently pour in the coconut milk mixture. Place back on the heat and keep whisking slowly until the mixture thickens and just comes up to a boil.
Remove from heat and allow to cool a little before transferring to a bowl to cool completely. Cover the custard with plastic wrap, making sure the wrap touches the surface of the custard. Refrigerate until completely cool.

Coconut Whipped Cream
(I read about 20 near-identical recipes online and then just did it from memory... no one specific credit...)

2 large cans coconut milk (because I needed enough for this cake - ordinarily, I'd just use one 15-ounce can)
1-2 tablespoons sugar (or honey, or powdered sugar... I used sugar for this)

Chill the cans of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight (at least).
When you are ready to make the whipped cream, carefully remove the cans from the fridge (don't shake them) and open them up. Spoon out the cold, mostly solid layer from the top of the can, leaving behind all of the liquid.  
Whip the coconut solids in a stand mixer until fluffy and whipped-creamy. Add sugar and continue to beat a few more minutes.


8 ounces miniature marshmallows (4 cups not packed, or half of a 16-ounce bag)
1 pound powdered sugar (4 cups), plus extra for dusting
2 tbsp water

Dust your work surface with powdered sugar. Place the marshmallows and the water in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute, until the marshmallows are puffy and expanded.
Stir the melty marshmallows with a rubber spatula until they are completely melted and smooth. If some unmelted marshmallow pieces remain, return the bowl to the microwave for 30-45 seconds, until the marshmallow mixture is entirely smooth and free of lumps.
Add the powdered sugar and begin to stir with the spatula. Stir until the sugar begins to incorporate and it becomes very difficult to stir anymore.
Scrape the marshmallow-sugar mixture out onto the prepared work surface. It will be sticky and lumpy, with lots of sugar that has not been incorporated yet. Dust your hands liberally with powdered sugar, and begin to knead the fondant mixture like bread dough, working the sugar into the marshmallow with your hands.
Continue to knead the fondant until it smoothes out and loses its stickiness. Add more sugar if necessary, but stop adding sugar once it is smooth - too much sugar will make it stiff and difficult to work with. Once the fondant is a smooth ball, it is ready to be used. 
(You can color the fondant using food coloring, but I didn't.)

To assemble the Prinsesstarta
(as directed in the challenge)

You will need:
Baked and cooled cake
Prepared custard
1/3 cup jam (flavor of your choice, I used homemade strawberry)
Prepared whipped cream
Prepared fondant (you will only need half of it)
Powdered sugar (for rolling out the fondant)
"flower" decoration of your choice (challenge calls for making the flower out of marzipan/fondant - I trimmed strawberries into flowers)

With a long serrated knife, slice the sponge cake into three even layers. This cake is very delicate, so do this as carefully as possible. Use a gentle sawing motion to move the knife through the cake instead of trying to pull it through the cake. Use a spatula to help you lift off each layer after you cut it. Set aside the middle layer – this will become the top layer of the assembled cake as it is the most flexible and therefore easiest to bend into a dome over the whipped cream.
Place one of remaining layers on a cake board or serving platter and spread it evenly with jam. Spread or pipe half the chilled custard over the jam in an even layer, leaving enough room around the edges so that it doesn't spill over the sides of the cake.
Top the custard with another layer of cake. Spread or pipe the remaining custard evenly over it, again leaving some room around the edges.
Reserve ½ cup of the stiffly whipped cream. Pile the rest into a mound on top of the custard. Spread it into a thick layer with a thin, flexible spatula or off-set spatula, then hold the spatula at an angle to shape the whipped cream into a dome, piling it up in the middle of the cake as much as possible.
Place the final layer of sponge cake (the one cut from the middle of the cake) on top of the whipped cream. Do not press on the top of the cake – instead, gently tuck the edges of the cake layer into the whipped cream, so that they are flush with the cream. This will create a smooth, seamless dome on top of the cake.
Gently spread the reserved ½ cup of whipped cream over the entire cake to fill in any cracks and even out the surface. If necessary, refrigerate the cake to firm it up before continuing.
Dust your work surface with powdered sugar and press the fondant into a 6-inch disc (knead it a bit to warm it up first if you need to). Coat both sides with powdered sugar and roll it out into a 14” diameter circle less than 1/8” thick. Use plenty of powdered sugar to prevent it from sticking. 
Use the rolling pin to drape the rolled-out fondant sheet over the cake and smooth it around the cake gently with your hands.
If it seems like it wants to fold or buckle around the cake, gently lift and stretch it away from the cake with one hand while smoothing it down with the other.
Trim the excess fondant from the bottom of the cake with a paring knife or spatula blade.
Decorate the top with your decorative flowers.
You can serve the cake immediately, but it cuts easier if you chill it in the refrigerator for at least an hour.



  1. Aw yum, I'm loving the sound of whipped coconut cream & the custard. Your prinsesstårte looks fantastic! That slice with that beautiful layer of fluffy cream - yes please! (I wasn't brave enough to make a big one.)

  2. The coconut whipped cream really does sound good.

    Great job - especially with all the substitutions.

  3. Ooh, your Prinsesstarta looks so delicious! :)

  4. Whipped coconut cream has been on my list of things to try forever and that custard sounds amazing. I think you did a brilliant job working around all the allergies . The strawberry flowers are so beautiful and creative

  5. The most important is that it was delicous :)

  6. Your strawberry-roses are so beautiful!

  7. It looks like it turned out fantastic, Shelley!! Love it! :) You worked really hard to turn this cake into something your whole family could eat, and it looks fantastic! LOVE the strawberry roses, too! Clever! :) Awesome job!!!!

  8. I love the marshmallow fondant recipe. I think I will try it soon. Your Princesstarta looked moist and delicious to me.

  9. Shelley, I love the strawberry flowers! I was definitely thinking of you with your egg and dairy-free baking when I put this challenge together, and I am SO GLAD that you persevered and finished the cake. It looks amazing, and yes, challenging with all the changes you had to make! Seriously, BRAVO!! (And thanks for saying nice things about me ;) )

  10. Shelley I think it looks wonderful, I burned my first batch of cake and almost gave up myself, but was so determined! As for your strawberry roses I LOVE THEM!I may be trying that in the near future just to make breakfast a bit more special! Thanks for the inspiration!


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