Jordgubbstårta, which literally means “cream and strawberry cake” is part of the dessert tradition since the arrival of strawberries in Sweden, in the early nineteenth century. It is a light and fruity dessert that is perfect for the summer!
This traditional dessert finds its place on the Swedish tables for the feast of Midsommar, which is celebrated at the end of June around Saint John’s Day. Jordgubbstårta is also called gräddtårtan (cream cake) in some parts of Sweden. Other cakes, like the famous princess cake (prinsesstårta) are also served for Midsommar.
A little history.
Midsommar is a pre-Christian pagan festival celebrated every year during the summer solstice on a date that can vary between June 19th and 26th. Midsommar celebrates nature and fertility.
The festivities are usually held outside cities, in the countryside. A tree of joy (majstång or midsommarstång in Swedish) is erected as a symbol of fertility. Dancing and singing around this tree of joy is the main attraction of the festivities.
It is a good omen to decorate farms and houses with plants and greens. According to a Swedish superstition, this would bring luck! This tradition of decorating houses with plants at this time of the year, continues until today, even though people are now taking the superstition of yesteryear lightly. Decorating with plants is called att maja in Swedish and refers to the month of May. Also, some researchers say that German merchants were building this tree of joy in June because it was difficult to find enough plants and flowers in Sweden in May for this purpose. This explains the term “May tree”, etymologically midsommarstång in Swedish.
In addition to the traditional banquet set up for this purpose, barbecues and outdoor games are organized during Midsommar. Midsommar is the most celebrated national holiday in Sweden, even more than Christmas. Can you believe it?
In ancient pagan rites, bonfires were lit to protect families from evil spirits who were considered free to wander when the sun was heading south. Before the May tree tradition, in the Middle Ages, little arrows surrounded by plants were used. The mast, the arrows or the May tree refer to a phallic symbol commonly used in pagan rites to symbolize the fertility and durability of harvest in the Viking era.
In Sweden, St. John falls on a Saturday between June 20 and June 26, but the holiday is celebrated on Friday between June 19 and June 25. St. John’s Day is a holiday in Sweden and many shops are closed. In short, Midsommar is the perfect opportunity to spend a good time with family or friends.
But let’s get to the heart of the matter: what is jordgubbstårta?
It is a light cake with cream and strawberry which consists of a 2 or 3-layer airy Genoise cake (sponge cake) brushed with sugar syrup, with layers of pastry cream flavored with vanilla (sometimes replaced by fruit or jam) as well as fresh strawberries.
The icing on the cake, so to speak ? Jordgubbstårta can take a rustic look or a more sophisticated look with its whipped cream decor! You are free to express your creativity and pastry expertise with the pastry bag! You can also cover the cake with whipped cream using a spatula for a rustic look.
This cake is ideal at the end of a light meal in a country setting! Some food bloggers have tried the naked cake version of this cake. For my part, I stuck to the traditional and elegant version of this famous classic Swedish dessert.
Let me know what you think of the final result!
For the moms in a hurry who need to optimize their time, you can of course prepare the cream and the base of this cake the day before. The sponge cake freezes very well provided you cover it well with plastic wrap. Personally, I prefer to decorate my cakes at the last minute: I do not know why but I’m more inspired on the same day and also the cream stands better. And if you still have a lot of strawberries and pastry cream, why not make a trifle?
Oh yes, I was going to forget: Lycklig Midsommar or Happy Midsommar!
- 4 eggs
- 1½ cup sugar
- 1 cup flour
- ½ cup cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup water
- Juice of a lemon
- 1 egg
- 3 egg yolks
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 1 vanilla pod , split and scraped
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups milk
- 3 tablespoons butter , soft
- ½ cup flour
- 8 oz. mascarpone
- 16 oz. creme fraiche (35% fat)
- 8 tablespoons icing sugar
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1½ lb fresh strawberries
Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.
Butter then flour three round 10-in (22cm) molds.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the eggs and sugar. Whisk 10 minutes until the mixture whitens and doubles in volume, then turn the power off.
Gently incorporate the flour and the cornstarch with a spatula so as not to break the foamy appearance.
Pour the mixture into 3 molds and bake for 20 minutes. Check the cake with the tip of a knife. It should come out clean.
Wait a few minutes and unmold on a cooling rack.
When the cake bases have completely cooled, cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside for assembly.
Place all the ingredients (water, sugar and lemon juice) in a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil for about 3 minutes.
Cool and then generously brush the cake bases.
In a saucepan, bring the milk to a boil with the split and scraped vanilla pod.
In a bowl, off the heat, whisk together the sugar and flour. Add the egg and egg yolks and whisk until the mixture is smooth and homogeneous.
Gradually add the hot milk while whisking.
Transfer the mixture to the saucepan and whisk constantly over medium heat, being careful to scrape the bottom and edges of the pan. Simmer for 1 to 2 minutes over low heat until the cream has thickened.
Off the heat, add the butter to the preparation until you obtain a homogeneous preparation.
Pour the pastry cream into a large bowl.Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool.
Refrigerate until cool, about 3 to 4 hours.
Fill a pastry bag with the pastry cream. Set aside.
In a bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), add the mascarpone, the cold cream and the vanilla.
Start whipping, first at low speed, then increase the speed of the mixer to medium speed. Midway, add the icing sugar.
Place a layer of Genoise cake on a plate. Thoroughly brush the biscuit with syrup.
Apply the pastry cream evenly over the cake surface with the help of the pastry bag and smooth out with a spatula.
Wash, trim and quarter the strawberries. Spread the strawberries evenly over the pastry cream.
Cover the strawberries with 2 to 3 tablespoons of light whipped cream and smooth out with the spatula.
Place a layer of Genoise cake on top. Proceed the same way on the second layer.
For the final Genoise layer, cover the sides of the cake with whipped cream. Fill a pastry bag with an open star tip, with mascarpone whipped cream.
Apply the mascarpone whipped cream wth the design of your choice. Spread the remaining strawberries on top of the cake, starting from the outside and going inside.