Christmas offers downtime when you can master a baking project that you may not attempt at another time of year. This recipe for a Swedish Almond Meringue Torte comes from The Nordic Baking Book by Magnus Nilsson whose restaurant Fäviken in Sweden has been listed in the top restaurants in the world for the last 6 years. He is one of the chefs featured on the Emmy-Award winning series ‘The Mind of a Chef’ and the Netflix docuseries ‘Chef’s Table’. His new book, published by Phaidon, explores the rich baking tradition of the Nordic region, with 450 recipes that are easy-to-follow and bake at home.
‘My grandmother used to make this torte quite often for birthdays and other torte-friendly occasions; I never really liked it. When I was served it growing up, the browned sticky meringue on sponge and the darkly toasted almond flakes always tasted a bit like defeat. Perhaps more child-friendly pastries, like Strawberry Layer Cake (page 454) or Princess Torte (page 446), were on my mind. Today I have learned to tolerate this very popular classic, to an extent where I can look in the eye someone who baked it and served it to me, politely thank them and smile, without my true feelings for this otiose cake shining through.
‘The recipe below is just for the cake and meringue part of the torte as you can really use anything you like for the filling. Most people would use whipped cream and berries or fruit but it’s your choice. You are only limited by your own sense of adventure, daring or shame. I’ve seen everything in there, from mashed banana to Skittles with vanilla cream or liquorice-flavoured yogurt. My childhood brittatårta usually used the more restrained combination of whipped cream, raspberries and kiwi fruit.’
Preparation and cooking time: 2 hours
For the cake:
100 g butter
100 g sugar
5 egg yolks
50 ml milk
pinch of salt
125 g weak (soft) wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
For the meringue:
5 egg whites
160 g sugar
100 g flaked almonds
1. Preheat the oven to 150oC/300oF/Gas Mark 2 and line a 30 x 40-cm baking sheet with baking (parchment) paper.
2. To make the cake, combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix until pale and creamy. With the motor on low, add the egg yolks, one at a time, until they are all fully incorporated. Mix in the milk and the salt. Sift in the flour and the baking pow- der and mix until smooth.
3. To make the meringue, place the egg whites in the spotlessly clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer (or a large stainless steel mixing bowl) and start whisking them slowly until they begin to foam. Add the sugar, little by little, making sure you leave enough time between each addition for the sugar crystals to dissolve completely.
4. After you have added about half of the sugar, start whisking at a faster speed and add the sugar at a slightly faster pace. When all the sugar has been added, lower the speed again and keep whisking the meringue until all the sugar crystals have dis- solved and the meringue is stiff.
5. Spread the cake batter out onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread the meringue on top of the batter and sprinkle on the flaked almonds.
6. Bake for 25–35 minutes. When it is ready, both the meringue and the almonds should be a nice amber colour. Leave to cool completely.
7. To assemble, slice the torte in half horizontally using a sharp serrated knife. Spread one section with whipped cream and your choice of other filling ingredients. Sit the other piece on top and transfer carefully to a serving platter.
Read more about Magnus Nilsson on Wikipedia
You’ll find Magnus Nilsson’s restaurant website Fäviken here
Follow Magnus Nilsson on Twitter here.
Magnus Nilsson on what he eats for breakfast and why he feels the pressure to innovate – interview with the UK Independent.
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