Swedish Midsummer’s Eve falls on 25th June this year. Midsommar is the purest celebration of the summer solstice, involving flowers in your hair, dancing around a maypole and a never-ending supply of pickled herring, crispbread, beer and aquavit (snaps). As it’s not possible to spend it in Stockholm this summer, we’ll be celebrating in style here in Marlow…
When I mentioned to my mum that I was going to make Smörgåstårta (Swedish Sandwich Cake) for Midsummer’s Eve, she was horrified. You see, mum recalls the hideous 1970’s creations, that many housewives were so proud of. Today, on the whole, you’ll find they still look much the same – kitsch. Classically, they’re filled with liver pate, ham and cheese. Then there’s the seafood version, with smoked salmon and prawns, smothered with a good deal of mayonnaise and crème fraîche. Then adorned with cucumber roses, cherry tomatoes and radish. Healthy, it’s definitely not.
However, recently many have given the Swedish Sandwich Cake a revamp and bought it up to date. I’ve seen healthier semi-naked versions, some decorated with pressed flowers and others with fresh.
Today, I’ve made a seafood Smörgåstårta. My local fishmonger sells exquisite smoked salmon and has a constant supply of plump and juicy North Atlantic prawns. The only prawn, in my opinion for this creation. I buy the ones you have to peel. Why you ask…they have so much more flavour. And the bonus is you can use the shells to make an excellent seafood stock.
I’ve made the sourdough bread for this recipe, but you certainly don’t have to. I suggest buying a loaf from a good bakery though, baked in a tin, so there’s less waste.
*I made the mistake of starting with the Skagenröra (prawns), the filling is runnier, it’s best to spread it on the top layer, as the recipe suggests. I flipped my cake over once assembled, to then coated it in cream cheese.
- Use good quality bread. Light rye, wholemeal or even white all work well.
- By spreading a thin layer of butter on the bread, prevents the filling seeping into the slices and making them soggy.
- Filling options are endless. Although it’s quite normal in Sweden to have meat and seafood in the same cake I stick with one or the other.
Whilst I cannot say this is a healthy version of Smörgåstårta, it’s healthier! Perfect for birthdays and big celebrations, that you really should try!
Smörgåstårta (Swedish Sandwich Cake)
- 1 loaf light rye (900g tin) wholemeal or white, baked in a tin, unsliced & one day old.
- 30 g butter softened
- 1 bunch dill stalks removed & chopped
Layer 1 – Smoked Salmon Filling
- 85 g smoked salmon cut into strips
- 30 g cream cheese
- 25 g crème fraîche
- ¼ zest lemon
- 1 Tbls lemon juice
- 1 tsp horseradish fresh grated or horseradish sauce
Layer 2 – Avocado Filling
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 small handful chives chopped
- 60 g cucumber peeled, deseeded & chopped
- 1 ½ Tbls lemon juice
Layer 3 – Skagenröra Filling
- 280 g whole North Atlantic prawns
- ¼ small red onion very finely chopped
- 45 g mayonnaise
- 40 g creme fraiche
- ¼ zest of lemon
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 -3 baby cucumbers finely sliced lengthways
- 180 g cream cheese full fat
- a few pea shoots fresh edible flowers, ie. French marigold petals, pansies and borage
- Begin with the bread, cut the crust off. Slice the bread, lengthways, approximately 1cm thick. I ended up with slices measuring 19 x 9cm. You will need 4 slices. Blitz the crust and remaining bread to make breadcrumbs (stores well in the freezer). Spread both sides of the bread with a thin layer of butter.
- Have a platter ready to assemble the cake on. Place the first buttered slice on the plate. Combine the salmon, cream cheese, creme fraiche, lemon juice, zest and horseradish. Stir well and add half of the dill. Place the salmon mixture on the first slice and follow with the second buttered slice.
- Cut the avocado in half and peel, mash roughly with a fork. Add the lemon juice, chives and cucumber, season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread on the second layer of bread. Top with the third layer of bread.
- Peel the prawns. Keep a few to decorate the cake, roughly chop the remaining. Place in a bowl and add the mayonnaise, creme fraiche, chopped red onion and dill. Add the zest and juice of the lemon and season with pepper and salt if it needs it. Spread the prawn mixture on the third layer of bread and top with the final slice.
- Now place the cream cheese in a bowl and give it a good stir to loosen it. With a palette knife mask the cake with the cheese. The sides don’t have to be too neat as they will be covered with cucumber slices. Cut the cucumber so they’re a little taller than the cake. Arrange the slices all the way round. Top with a few prawns, petals, flowers and pea shoots.