While it’s true one of the perks of being a grown-up (notice I didn’t say adult) is the option to have brownies and ice cream for supper now and then, that’s not what I’m talking about, here.

No, while reading through the Weddings folder on my Google Reader I came across this article on Offbeat Bride about Smörgåstårta, Swedish “sandwich cake,” and I was intrigued.

Originally I was going to make this for when friends were coming over for a game day, but plans shifted and I ended up making it for supper this weekend for just Todd and I. Of course, I didn’t even think about scaling the thing down so now we’re testing out how well it freezes! (Will report back should we ever defrost it.

Smorgastarta "sandwich cake" decorated with vegetables

I used a recipe from About.com’s Scandinavian Food selection with very few adjustments for our own preferences. The verdict? Tasty, well-suited for a brunch or baby/wedding shower or pot-luck, and kind of hard to pair up with other foods.

Considering it was “sandwich cake” (a concept that brings to mind towers of triangular sandwiches at a church mixer), I approached it like you would a sandwich supper. Since it had so many components I considered it a one-dish meal, though it looked kinda lonely on the plate. Of course, the usual sandwich accompaniments felt redundant or just wrong:

  • Chips? While they would provide a texture change, they just didn’t seem right.
  • Veggies? This Smörgåstårta was loaded with veggies and topped with extra ones, it would have been redundant.
  • Potato Salad? Again, redundant, but this time from a texture standpoint.

There’s a lot going on with this dish but, after mulling it over, decided that the perfect accompaniment (when served as a main course) would be a fruit salad. The bight acid of the fruit would cut through the rich creaminess of the Smörgåstårta without fighting for position with the vegetables in and on top of the dish.

Because man do the Scaninavians/Sweedes love their dairy products!

There’s butter and cream cheese and mayonnaise and sour cream positively everywhere in this dish. I’m all for rich and creamy but it was a little too much for Todd–he ended up scraping off some of the side frosting in order to finish his (or should that be Finnish?! okay, I’ll quit while I’m ahead).

Slice of vegetarian Smorgastarta

Like I said, I followed the recipe for the Vegetarian Smörgåstårta pretty closely, so there’s no sense in repeating it here. The few changes I made were pretty minor:

  • For the artichoke spread, I used a 12 oz jar of marinated artichoke hearts, drained, for the 14 oz can of the regular artichokes, mainly because we already had it at home.
  • For the Hungarian liptauer spread I took the option of using cottage cheese and subbed onion powder for the minced onion–the amount of work it would take for 2 Tbsp of minced onion just wasn’t worth it when I was already 2/3 of the way into the 3 separate fillings; I also just stirred everything together rather than using a blender or food processor.
  • I used country white bread and did trim off the crusts, but then turned around and used the trimmings to fill the gaps between the slices. Since I wanted the round look and not a square, I assembled everything within a large springform pan, making my edges nice and neat (which came in handy during the frosting step!), and tore my bread layers to fit.
  • And as much as I love butter, I drew the line at how much it was going to take to butter all interior sides of all pieces of bread for the entire project. I used olive oil spray and it served the same purpose (adding a fat “barrier” to keep the fillings from making the bread soggy).

For decoration I raided my end-of-the-week crisper drawers and found half a cucumber, half a red onion, radishes, and grapes. A quickie radish “rose” placed in the center of the frosted sandwich cake, ringed by black grape halves, and then alternating fans of red onion wedges (my favorite effect) and cucumber “scales” to finish it off. Apparently the brightly decorated outside of the Smörgåstårta is just as important as the variety of fillings within!

Collage of the steps involved in making vegetarian smorgastarta

I had fun making this dish, even though it was a fair amount of work and messed up the kitchen but good (lots of bowls used over the course of the day). I’d only make it again for a large group as part of a buffet, I think, but each of the spreads are worth making on their own the next time you have a reason to make tea sandwiches and don’t fancy the usual egg salad.

Here’s to multiculuralism!


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