Princess Torte

Friday, October 31, 2008


Princess Torte

It has been ages since I made a Princess Torte, actually many moons ago for a friend's little princess 8th birthday. Although not difficult, it is a mini production of its own, the sort of cake that I could see the Daring Bakers attempt one month. Out of the ordinary genoise base, rich pastry cream, almond paste, whisking, folding, heating up, cooling down, rolling thin, draping, trimming, etc... You get the picture. I absolutely love cakes like this one: incredibly rich and yet a feather on your tongue. A poetry of textures and flavors all wrapped up around your fork (let's not talk thigh side effect...it is Friday after all!), and when work becomes play what else can a girl ask for?!

Earlier this month I received a very sweet work assignment "Have you ever made a Princess Torte? Yoour mission, should you accept it is to bake one, style it and photograph it for our upcoming 4th issue." Ok, so this sounds more Mission Impossible than what Vera actually wrote me, but I never refuse an assignment for Desserts Magazine. Why? Again...that squishy sound when you turn the virtual pages....No! Just kidding! It's all about desserts folks! Each issue feels "real", jammed packed with tons of great recipes, practical information, and this month there is a ton of awesome giveaways and absolutely mouth watering cake recipes. I am very fortunate that Vera has trusted me with working on something for each issue and if you only knew what we are concocting right now, eheheh!!!

In "A Journey Around The World Through Cakes" I was Sweden. Not bad eh? Tall, blonde, blue eyes...ugh no...I was Princess Torte actually. Ha! Suits me just fine since I got the opportunity to sit back and bake a recipe from start to finish following the instructions to the letter down to the last dot on that last i. Yes...I find it relaxing to let myself be coaxed by someone else's measurements and instructions once in a while, not to mention that this was a recipe to make for work, not play so I was not to deviate in order to properly talk about it.

This is not the kind of cake you decide to make at 4pm to be served at 7pm that same evening. It is not difficult, it just requires a little time and planning. Start the day before and spread your work so you give each element your full attention and the necessary cooling and setting time they require. I absolutely loved making (and eating) this cake from Greg Patent's A Baker's Odyssey, making a few adjustments and notes along the way. The book is a collection of recipes from around the world, a great read, if only for the stories alone. You can read the original recipe in the magazine on pages 69-71. I reworked it a bit to include some notes regarding the ingredients, and I did shorten the instructions that were unnecessary lenghty at times.

Pastry Cream

The base is an unconventional genoise type where the egg yolks are added, with the mixer running, to the egg white while you are whipping them to firm peaks, alternatively with the flour. I did raise an eyebrow, thinking that it might destroy the actual structure of the cake until I remembered Grandma's lesson #53: you can pretty much add anything you want to your whites whipped to firm peaks in small amount without destroying many air particules and running your batter. The end result was a satin ribbon of cake batter that baked into a light and airy genoise type base for the cake. Once divided in three, the cake layers are filled with a thin coat of raspberry jam, a rich pastry cream combined with whipped cream and topped with more whipped cream. Finally the whole cake is draped with a thin sheet of pastel green tinted marzipan.

At first, you might feel like there is no way that al that cream filling is going to fit in one cake, but trust me it does! And you are going to love it! Draping the marzipan over the whipped cream can be a little tricky. Make sure to center your marzipan sheet right over it and work fast, let it drape over and use a gentle hand to press it down the side. If you are still worried, you can freeze the cake for an hour until the top is firmer and proceed with the draping. I did find that the dimension to roll it were a little too wide and ended having a extra so I made a few marzipan roses to decorate the cake with. If you are looking for a great tutorial on making marzipan roses, read this step by step written by Cakebrain. Hers is for chocolate clay roses but the same technique can be used for marzipan ones. Last note, this Princess Torte is best enjoyed within the first couple of days as the marzipan gets very soft and gooey from its direct contact to the cream.


Princess Torte,

Serves 8-10

For the custard:
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups half-and-half, divided
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

In a 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 set over medium heat, bring the remaining half and half to boiling point.
Slowly whisk the hot cream over the egg yolk/cornstarch mixture to temper the eggs. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens to a custard. It should take about 5 minutes. It is important to constantly stir to prevent the bottom from curdling or burning. If that happens, take a balloon whisk and whisk vigorously. If you fear your custard curdled too much, remove from the heat and pass it through a fine sieve before proceeding with the recipe. Off the heat, stir in the vanilla and pour the custard into a bowl to let it cool. Press a piece of plastic wrap on the surface to prevent a skin from forming while it cools. Let it cool to room temperature before refrigerating.

For the cake:
Fine dry bread crumbs for the pan
1/2 cup sifted unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup potato starch flour – substitute same amount of cornstarch if the former is not available
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 large eggs, separated
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9-inch spring form pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper and coat with cooking spray. Dust the inside of the pan with the breadcrumbs and tap out the excess. This is very traditional of Eastern European cakes to line the pan with a coating of fine crumbs. In the older days, it replaced parchment paper, soaked up extra moisture. It also forms a tight crumbs on the outside which makes it easier when you frost the cake after baking.
Sift together the flour, potato starch, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and salt on medium speed until the whites are shiny and form stiff peaks but are still smooth, not lumpy. Sprinkle in about one-quarter of the sugar, then add 1 egg yolk and beat for about 10 seconds. Repeat the process 3 more times. Beat a couple more minutes, until the mixture forms a ribbon.
Gently fold in the flour mixture in 4 additions, taking your spatula from the bottom of the bowl, up the side and over the batter. Pour the batter into the pan, and set it on baking sheet. Rap the sheet a couple of times on the counter top to smooth the top of you cake.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the sides of the cake to release it from the pan, if necessary. Release the cake from the spring form pan, cover the cake with a plate or another wire rack and invert. Remove the bottom of the pan and the parchment paper. Cover the cake with another wire rack and invert again. Let it cool completely before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.

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. Your natural body heat will help smooth it out and add in the coloring. Add 3 or 4 drops of green food coloring and knead it into the marzipan to get a pale shade of green. You can add a couple more drops of the coloring but do so carefully. The final shade should be pastel and not neon green. Dust your work surface with powdered sugar. Shape the marzipan into a 6-inch disk, coat both sides lightly with sugar. Roll the marzipan to a circle about 16 inches in diameter and less than 1/8 inch thick. Don’t be afraid to add more powdered sugar to your work surface as you roll to prevent it from sticking. You can also roll the marzipan between two sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper if they are wide enough. I had a lot of extra so adjust the diameter according to the size and height of your cake.

To Assemble the Torte:
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam
Marzipan Coating

Cut the cake into 3 equal layers, set aside.
In a mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the cream until thick and firm. Transfer one-third of the cream to a small bowl, cover, and refrigerate. Remove the chilled custard from the refrigerator and give it a vigorous whisk as it will be thick after cooling. Make sure it is smooth and creamy before proceeding. Fold the portion of the whipped cream that you did not refrigerate into the custard until smooth.
Since the cake is not easily moveable once completed (heavy and moist), set the bottom cake layer, cut side up, onto platter and arrange 4 strips of parchment paper under the edges cake to keep your plate clean as you assemble it.
Spread the raspberry jam onto the cake, and then spread half the custard cream mixture evenly over the jam. Invert the top cake layer onto the custard cream, cut side up. Spread the remaining custard cream over the layer and top with the remaining cake layer. Spread about one-quarter of the refrigerated whipped cream in a very thin layer around the sides of the cake. Evenly spread the remaining cream onto the top of the cake with an offset spatula. Remove the paper strips from underneath the cake and refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes to an hour. It does help with firming the creams again before applying the marzipan so it does not mush it down. You can also freeze it for an hour.
Remove the cake from the refrigerator and gently set the marzipan on top of the cake so that it drapes over the cake. Press it gently so it adheres to the sides of the cake, covering it completely. With a sharp knife, trim away the excess marzipan so that the edges. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

105 comments:

Aran said...

what a great contribution for dessert magazine! i am headed over there to check out this issue. it is gorgeous helen!

Manggy said...

Oh, wow! Any young girl will be lucky to have that! (And the boys? Well, they can enjoying eating it... In secret, lol. Hey, taste knows no gender!) And I love the marzipan roses too, such a traditional touch!

Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy said...

Ha, I like the idea of a princess cake, but I definitely like the looks of it even more! I want to dive right in, Helen :)

jokergirl@wererabbits said...

Oh, one of my favourite cakes here in Sweden. It's definitely the highlight of any party!
Generally the marzipan is a little deeper green here, actually, although I like the soft pastel colour of yours.

;)

FFichiban said...

Amazinnngggg! I really want to try mmmmm and I'd eat that openly! Loud and proud... about eating princess cakes ^^!

noisy penguin said...

Oh this is beautiful. I love princess tortes, though I've never attempted to make one myself. Now I want to eat one though, so maybe I'll finally have to try. =)

Chef C said...

Your attention to the minute details really inspires me...I always look forward to seeing the decoration and the set up for photography...the backdrop and all are just so pro indeed!

Audax Artifex said...

Yours is one of the best bogs about food on the web. Love the recipe

Esra said...

Oh, WOW...this princess torte looks to die for !!!

Angela said...

I squealed with joy when I saw Princess Torte come up on my blog reader. It's one of my favourite cakes and I'm thrilled to see your take on it.

Such gorgeously thick layers... it is beautiful! And I like the idea of marzipan roses much better than real ones. A rose that you can eat is far sweeter :)

ChichaJo said...

I am in love with that cake! Enchanting! I would have fainted with pleasure if someone have made me a cake like this when I was a little girl :) (my favorite book when I was a kid was A Little Princess -- still have my copy!)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Very pretty with that green marzipan decoration! I love this cake... Terrific!

Cheers,

Rosa

linda said...

Pretty princess cake, I've seen in it in the blogosphere once or twice but never as pretty as yours.

Pearlsofeast said...

Lovely and soothing colour of the margipan.It is too mouthwatering with a lovely picture.

Anne said...

Very lovely!! Princess Cakes here in Sweden are slightly brighter green, but I love your pastel much much more! :)

Christy said...

Is it just me or are the instructions for the cake about as complex as difficult as a princess? Maybe that's where the name came from!

I'd be happy with this cake for my birthday, and I'm 3 times the age of your recipient! I have to agree that the genoise is unconventional, though. Lucky you for having a grandma who is also a master patissier! It definitely runs in the family.

PS. Love the plate!

PPS. James aka the boyfriend says thank you for the offer! Next time there's a pizza challenge on DB he'll surely accept!

My Castle in Spain said...

and it does look like a feather on the tongue !! This green coating looks so divine...
Congratulations for your assignment, this is great !

i would love to try this recipe but as you say best to do it with time

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

I've not heard of a Princess Torte before. Now, I'm not likely to be able to get it out of my head!

Blushing hostess said...

I would try but two things prevent me: Trying out my new Lamington recipe and marzipan a long-gone-away ingredient in the Blushing Hostess kitchen! Be well, Cat

Aimée said...

Perfect, I've got my afternoon read all lined up with your new article! Now if only the babies will nap.
If I were a princess with only one wish, I would wish for this cake over a prince. It's as pretty as a fairy tale.
PS That 'milk' and 'sugar' set are just to sweet!

cindy : quaint said...

i would feel like a princess eating that torte ;)! congratulations!

FeeMail said...

oh i love this! i think i try try it for the upcoming birthday of my little sister!! i tell you, if i succeeded. by the way, i'm writing my posts in english now too. i think it's horrible, but i hope you'll understand ;-)! greetings, fee

VeggieGirl said...

LOVELY cake!!

Congratulations on your assignment, Helen - that's absolutely wonderful :0)

Botacook said...

Whaouh j'AIME ce gâteau de princesse!! Il me fait penser au film Peau d'âne, quand elle fait son gâteau d'amour! ;)

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

This is beautiful. I wish my niece hadn't already had her birthday because she would have loved eating something called a "princess cake". That's really a deliciuos combination of ingredients.

Jo. said...

Can I be the princess. Can I get this tart ;-) It looks lovely

Sara said...

Princess cake is my absolute most favorite cake ever. We had it at our wedding even. I've always been a little intimidated to make it, I tried to do a marzipan covered cake once without much success, but that was years ago.

May said...

Wow! Just wow!
Ii love princess cake and yours look so beautiful! I could stare at it for hours...

I'll mark the recipe and hope and pray some occation will come up and I'll have an excuse to make it :) (However, I think I'll give up the marzipan.)

Bridget said...

I've never heard of a Princess Torte, but yours looks just beautiful!

tara said...

So very pretty; I love how the shape is simple, but the execution is flawless. It is the perfect balance of charm and elegance. Beautiful stuff.

Eileen said...

Oh, could this be any prettier? Lovely!

Dani said...

beautiful :)

morgana said...

Sooooooooo beautiful... It looks like a soft and very sweet dream.

Bunny said...

This is beautiful! I'm bookmarking this, I love a good challenge! Where do you find these beautiful cakes!!??

Jen said...

This would make a great DB challenge--- maybe for next time you host? I never though that Princess Torte could be made at home, I thought it was a bakery only item, though I guess before the daring bakes I thought I could only make plain sheet cakes...

cindy* said...

beautiful helen! i love princess torte and yours is just perfection.

Mallory Elise said...

Helen! the princess torte is in Patent's Baker's Odyssey immigrant cookbook--yes i did get it, thank you very much for telling me about it, it's coming along handy for a big class project i am running----and the book says it's Swedish!

mayan. said...

How elegant! I've always wanted to taste one!

mayan. said...

How elegant! I've always wanted to taste one!

Zoe Francois said...

This is beautiful! I love the color and the flavors are divine!

Andrea said...

What a beautiful princess cake! I tried my first one in September, at my Norwegian fiancee's brother's wedding. A small slice is all you need with that kind of richness!

pastry studio said...

Your work is always so gorgeous. Thanks for reminding me about Princess Tortes. They are a total indulgence!

Mobula said...

I´ve never listened about this cake but yours it´s so beautiful and delicious that I´m going to do it.

Ana

Lori said...

Oh how I would love to bite into that! My daughter would just love this but with sprinkles of course. It's a beauty.

Patricia Scarpin said...

I have read about this cake a couple of times, and seen it, too, but have never tried making it. Yours, of course, looks stunning, Helen! I love that pale green. So delicate.

glamah16 said...

One day I am going to make this. We spend so much time in Sweden it only seems right . Beautiful!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Lately I've been reading alot about this cake everywhere. Musat be something in the air! It's lovely Helen, love the cute roses!

Hannah said...

Oh, this is absolutely stunning...! The colors, construction, decoration; everything is flawless.

Dana McCauley said...

Lovely spread - like a breath of fresh air! I particularly love the props you used - all the crisp white and black. Very nice indeed.

Felica said...

Oh My Gosh, I don't know which is better, the recipe for the cake, (which I'm GOING to have to try> and the beautiful spread you did. Or, the fact that there is such a beautiful magazine on line to drool over.

Sheltie Girl said...

What a fabulous torte and I can (unfortunately for my waistline) never get enough marzipan.

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

Sugar Chef said...

Wow! I haven't made a princess cake in such a long time. I almost forgot about it. Yours looks beautiful and I love the green rose to match the marzipan. Going to go right now and check out the magazine.

pixxienix@gmail.com said...

Hi Helen! ^_^ Thanks for the recipe. It's a gorgeous cake and the green is a very pretty shade. I hope to try it one of these days :)

veron said...

That definitely is a cake fit for royalty. Gorgeous!

Passionate About Baking said...

Lucky little Princess Helen...you need a bow to whip us such gorgeous perfection *BOW*!! It's elegant t say the least!

Maryann said...

Beautiful! btw..Congrats on your DMBLGIT win! Well deserved xox

Claudia said...

For real princesses, isn't it?

Where can I order? (joking!)

Claudia

paula said...

i so wish i was brilliant in the kitchen, sigh. thanks for coming to visit my little blog.

the italian dish said...

You are so, so talented. Sigh. . .

Jerri said...

Beautiful, just beautiful!

Coffee and Vanilla said...

I'm speechless... this cake is soooo beautiful, love the plate too!
Margot

That Girl said...

This does look perfect for a little girl's birthday

Deborah said...

Wow - what a gorgeous cake! And it sounds absolutely delicious!

Rico said...

as always is a pleasure to come to your site ...what a lovely cake and looks so light and delicate....wish I could have a piece. The colour green really works well here.

http://ricocoffeeshop.blogspot.com

Leonor de Sousa Bastos said...

Congratulations for all your work and the magazine assignment!!

Your princess torte came out absolutely beautiful... It really looks tender and light!

DELICIOUS!!
:)

chefectomy said...

Hi Helen,

It's been too long since I have visited. Your work is lovely. I love Princess Cake and have had some wonderful slices at Gayle's Bakery in Santa Cruz. Your version is literally inspirational.

Regards,

Marc

Helene said...

I never heard of Princess Torte. Beautiful colors!

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous and making me drool :)

On a side note, how do we download the issue 4 of the dessert magazine? I can't find the download link anywhere this time!

cheers
pansy pinkconfetti1@yahoo.com

Camille said...

Very pretty...I love the color. I'm sure it tastes wonderful. It is a wonderful addition to Dessert Magazine.

nicisme said...

I'll go to bed tonight dreaming of this....

breadpitt said...

the little rose were so cute!!!!!

cindy said...

C'est bientôt mon anni ... moi aussi je veux un gâteau princesse !!! il est vraiment superbe, bravo.
A bientôt

Alexa said...

I am so glad you accepted your mission. :-) This dessert looks so merveilleux!

Bonbon Oiseau said...

congratulations! not only is the most gorgeous cake I've ever seen,, it makes me feel like a princess just looking at the pictures!

Tartelette said...

Pansy: wish I could help but I just write articles for the mag. I have nothing to do with the print, layout or downloads. The best thing to do would be to contact the editors.

Linnéas Skafferi said...

I really like the way your prinsesstårta (it´s the Swedish name)looks, but I think the cake is kind of boring actually, because it´s so common in Sweden!

But what I really, really do like is your amazing blog!

Linnéa from Sweden

Marc @ NoRecipes said...

As usual, this looks stunning Helen! Now I just need to go find a few days where I can actually make this... Maybe over Thanksgiving:-)

dessertobsessed said...

ooh so this is what princess torte is! hahaha, i've always wondered and stumbled upon your gorgeous post! i must try making this!

jasmine said...

Absolutely delightful! Love the soft green...


j

leaca said...

This looks yummy but it is nothing I could make. I am not that good. =)

Snooky doodle said...

wow this is so nice and the little rose is so cute. ahh i love marzipan too :)

Cakebrain said...

I've always wanted to know how to make a princess cake! Now I have a recipe to refer to! Your princess cake looks simply gorgeous!

Philo said...

Magnifique comme tout !

DD said...

This looks incredible. Princess Cake is a favorite dessert in Norway and always reminds me of visiting family over there. Beautiful photos!

bbaking said...

wow I wonder if my other half will make me a cake, let alone one this beautiful for my birthday? doubtful! boo hoo haha

The colours are so lovely! x

steph- whisk/spoon said...

princess cake is so delicious! and the green marzipan makes me smile. yours looks gorgeous, of course-- a great contribution to Desserts Magazine!

Cakespy said...

You're an absolute inspiration. I'm obsessed with the princess torte, but one question keeps on bugging me: why green? And why always that green? I like to think maybe it's a bit of relief from the chilly Swedish winters, like the first tentative blade of grass peeking through the snow?

pea & pear said...

i just know I will never make this, since time is a very valuable currency at the moment. But I am glad you did so I can come and lick the screen when ever I need to!!

Ali

Pille said...

That's one very pretty-looking princess cake!!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Just gorgeous and that rose is princess perfect!

lyndsay said...

incredible!! thanks for sharing! love your blog, really really amazing!

Eugenia210 said...

¡¡Hello Tartelette!!
I love your blog and your articules are wonderfull.
In this case is a really lovely cake!!
I will try to cook it but I have a problem....I do not understand what is..."1 1/2 cups half-and-half, divided". Can you help me??
Thanks a lot!!
Regards from Argentina.
Eugenia

Tartelette said...

Eugenia: I know it may sound weird but it is how recipes are written. It means that you are not going to use the whole amount at once but divide it up according to what the instructions make you do. In this case, you use 1/2 cup first and then later on you are made to use the remainder.

Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

"prinsesstårta", so odd to find it here, but a nice surprise :)

Jennywenny said...

Cool! I decided to make this for my birthday recently and it came out pretty good, although I do feel it is a recipe which is deliberately difficult! I mean you make all these wonderful poofy layers of cake, then delicious light clouds of cream and custard, then you get an incredibly heavy sheet of marzipan, pop it on top and hope it doesnt all collapse!

I took it to work and it was gone in a flash, delicious, although it was quite difficult to cut and I found marzipan quite difficult to work with. Thanks for the inspiration to try a tricky cake!

Lily said...

What size of the cake pan is it Helen?

Lisa66 said...

My father is from Sweden and the princess torte was part of everyone's birthday celebration in my family when I was growing up. We could buy them at a Swedish bakery in Jamestown, NY until the early 80's. Although the bakery is gone, the delicious memory remains. My brother learned how to make the princess torte and continues our family tradition with his children.

I look forward to trying your recipe.

Ameli said...

Hi! I love that pastel-green princesstårta you made. Here´s how green we make it in Sweden! =) http://www.jahnkes.se/Tartor/Princess_Gron.JPG If you use pink, it´s a operatårta, yellow a princetårta... The opera cake usually don´t have raspberry jam, it should be vanilla custard (vanilla cream? I´m not sure about the English name here....) instead.

Josh and Alex Waidley said...

Can I make this cake the day before? And if so should I put the marzipan on the the day of or the day before when I make the rest of the cake?

Penny said...

I love this cake, and I've already decided to find one for my wedding day (the wedding guest list is 14 people, so hardly a challenge...)

The cakes seen in Finland have a slightly different interior, and are just fabulous! Googling for images with the keyword "Prinsessakakku" will yield quite a few variations of the green princess cake.

Olivia said...

wow, I really want to make this for my mom's birthday this sunday but I probably can't get the marzipan. Is the marzipan required to hold the cake together? and will it make too much of a difference in taste without it ? :(

Helene said...

Olivia: you can make it without the marzipan but then it's not a traditional Princess Torte anymore.

Olivia said...

Oh, didn't think of that :(
I guess it really wouldn't be at all as pretty without the marzipan and for the bread crumbs can I just use... panko..?

Helene said...

Olivia: I would not use Panko at all. The texture is way too coarse for the cake.

Olivia said...

Alright, thanks for all your help ,Helene! I plan to use just a food processed white bread. :)

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