Last weekend, my Man Candy’s™ BFF from NOLA came to SF to visit for the weekend (boy there were a lot of abbreviations in that sentence!). It was so fun to have someone to show around the city and experience the fog with us.
(Pro-tip: the fog has been named Karl, and you can follow him on IG @KarlTheFog, because that's the world we live in these days. His tagline says, "not all those in the fog are lost." What a time to be alive.)
While exploring the city, we passed a well known bakery in North Beach, otherwise known as “Little Italy”.
It was closed for the evening but the lights in the display case were still on, illuminating the delicious desserts that were waiting to dazzle those of us who happened to peep through the floor to ceiling front windows that evening.
As we passed in front of those inviting bakery windows, my Man Candy™ asked, “What is that green… thing?” (His pastry vocabulary is a bit lacking. Personally I would have described it as a mint green domed cake.) I looked over and recognized it in an instant: Prinsesstårta.
Otherwise known as the Swedish Princess Cake for those of us who don’t speak the language (I certainly don’t.) And in that moment I knew: I was going to attempt a Princess Cake for the very first time for my blog this weekend.
And here we are.
Ok, first things first - what is in a Princess Cake? My research resources all concurred that it is vanilla sponge cake layered with raspberry jam and creme anglaise, with a dome of creme anglaise topped with green marzipan and a marzipan flower. Easy enough.
But what my research could NOT conclude was what order the jam and creme anglaise were supposed to be layered in. Some articles cited that it should be layered from the bottom as cake-raspberry jam-cake-creme anglaise-cake-creme anglaise dome-marzipan, some showed it as cake-raspberry jam AND creme anglaise-cake-raspberry jam and creme anglaise-cake -creme anglaise dome-marzipan, and some showed it with the creme anglaise dome topped with another layer of cake and then the marzipan (which according to a bakery competition show I recently watched, adding another layer of cake on top of the dome of creme anglaise is considered cheating!), and honestly my head was spinning just about as much as yours is right about now if you actually read through all of those combinations.
In the end I decided to go rogue and do my own thing: cake-raspberry jam-creme anglaise-cake-creme anglaise dome-marzipan.
I made a mini Prinsesstårta entirely from scratch, and all for myself (although I was only able to eat half of it because it was so rich. Plus I have a bit of a lactose sensitivity and with all of that creme anglaise, I was basically playing the lactose version of Russian Roulette at this point).
We need to talk about marzipan though. I honestly think this is the first time I’ve ever eaten it. And it’s certainly the first time I’ve ever made it. Here’s what I know: marzipan is a mixture of almond flour and powdered sugar (much like the base of macarons). I believe it is supposed to have egg whites, too (again, just like macarons), but I found a recipe that says to use water. I was curious so I tried it.
It was… ok. The flavor was just fine, but the texture left something to be desired. I’ve avoided using marzipan before because I feared that it would be too similar to fondant (which most of you know I don’t typically work with fondant because it tastes terrible and I don’t want to use products that make my work taste terrible). Marzipan rolls out just like fondant but is MUCH stickier.
I absolutely can't stand stickiness. (You'll see it in my video below, too - my hands are COVERED when it gets to the point where I roll the marzipan flower. I was cringing the entire time!)
It kept sticking to my countertop, so I broke out a small silpat and lots of powdered sugar to prevent it from sticking. I got some good results from the marzipan, but much like some problems that can happen with fondant, it was not very smooth and no matter how thick I rolled it out, it still cracked open when I placed it on top of the cake.
A lesson learned, I suppose. I think next time I will use the non-vegan version and use the egg whites. Also, I don’t know why I cared that it was vegan - the rest of this cake certainly is NOT vegan. But here’s my tip of the week, and I’m going to follow this one, too: My pastry education is still continuing even though I graduated from pastry school 10 years ago. Be patient with yourself as you teach yourself new things because it certainly won’t always turn out perfectly on the first try.
I will absolutely attempt to make marzipan again (and may even come to the same conclusion about it that I came to about fondant: fondant is definitely not worth making from scratch in my opinion. I certainly prefer to buy fondant if ever I need to use it.) and may even try to make another Swedish Princess Cake because it was delicious and I look forward to eating that again!
Happy eating, y’all!
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