Given the shared history among Scandinavian countries, you would expect to find similarities in the cuisine. This was exactly what we experienced during our recent visit to Sweden, Norway and Denmark. For example, some items, like the delightful open-faced sandwiches (smorrebrod), were prevalent in all three countries. Only the sandwich names and toppings varied.
So, I wasn’t surprised when I saw my Mother’s “Norwegian” cake in the window of a Danish bakery, Lagkagehuset. (That’s the cake– just to the left of the 79-Kroner Drommekage sign.)
The bakery window at Lagkagehuset looked simply gorgeous! Wild horses couldn’t have kept me from going inside the bakery even if I hadn’t seen my Mother’s cake in the window. But the cake, which I had not eaten since childhood, turned me on my heels like a whirling dervish.
Running inside, I asked: That cake with the dark topping, behind the Drommekage sign, is it Norwegian??
BAKER: Why, no, that is Drommekage — a traditional Danish cake. In English, it means “Danish Dream Cake”.
ME (ever the skeptic): But it looks just like my Mother’s Norwegian cake?!
BAKER: I’m sorry, but I do think your Mother was mistaken. I am not familiar with a Norwegian version of Drommekage (Danish Dream Cake).
ME (slightly embarrassed): Oh. Well, perhaps it just looks the same. I was anticipating a vanilla cake with coconut, butter and sugar on top.
BAKER: Yes, that’s it exactly.
ME (Suddenly all the pieces fell into place): Well, thank you for your helpful information. And, even though it is Danish Dream Cake and not my Mother’s Norwegian cake, I would very much like a couple of big slices!!
As we washed down our moist and sweet Danish Drommekage with a coffee, hubby looked for an explanation with his eyes — too polite to remind me I had sounded a bit silly.
I explained that my Mother thought every good thing in this world had to be Norwegian (her heritage). She even jokingly called my Grandfather’s Beef Stroganoff “Norwegian Stroganoff” since it was among her favorites. So, why should I be surprised that one of her favorite Danish cakes became Norwegian? How could she have known that years later while visiting Copenhagen I’d be making a fool of myself as a result of this misinformation?? But, no worries Mom (if you can read this wherever you are), you gave me a story for my blog 🙂
After our stop at the bakery, with our bellies full of Drommekage (Danish Dream Cake), we did a bit of exploring Copenhagen. Near the Christiania neighborhood, we stumbled on a beautiful old church, Church of Our Saviour, with an exterior staircase on the steeple!
We decided to give it a try and made it as far as the spire landing. At that point, my knees started shaking. I exclaimed that I couldn’t possibly make it to the top without another piece of Drommekage (which we did not have). My brave hubby climbed the remaining 150 steps to the top while I captured some of the lovely views from the landing.
Back at home, I recreated the Drommekage and filled my belly yet again with the moist and delicious memory — from my childhood and, more recently, from Copenhagen. Now I would be more than happy to finish that climb up to the top of the spire…
Danish Dream Cake (Drommekage)
Recipe By: A Global Garnish, LLC
Serving Size: 10
10 ounces flour, all purpose, or about 2 cups
1 tablespoon baking powder
10 ounces sugar, or about 1 1/3 cups
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 cup milk
2 ounces butter, melted
1/2 cup sour cream
4 ounces butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
1 cup sugar, brown, packed
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
5 ounces coconut, sweetened and flaked, or about 1 1/2 cup loosely packed
1 cup heavy cream, (optional)
1 tablespoons sugar, (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Butter generously a deep 9-10 inch round, broiler-proof pan. You may also use an 8 inch square or a rectangular baking pan, approximately 7×10 inches. These are all comparable in size as follows: 9 inch round or 8 inch square has a 64 inch surface area and the rectangle has a 70 inch surface area. A pan that is a bit larger is fine. A smaller pan will not leave you sufficient room for the topping.
Also, because of the topping, you will be unable to flip the cake out of the pan. So, select a pan that is suitable for cutting and serving. I like to use a table-worthy, deep ceramic baker.
2. Mix flour with baking soda and set aside.
Beat 4 eggs in a large, deep bowl. Add 10 ounces of (white) sugar and beat until egg mixture is light yellow and glossy.
Add 1 t vanilla and 1/4 t cardamom. Drizzle in 4 ounces of melted butter.
3. Gently mix in flour/baking soda mixture.
Mix in 1/2 c milk and 1/2 cup sour cream.
4. Bake in 375 degree oven for about 25 minutes. Cake is done when it is light brown and firm in the center.
While cake is baking, make the topping. Mix all topping ingredients except coconut until blended. Then stir in coconut. Break up any lumps in coconut or brown sugar.
5. Remove cake from the oven, and put your oven on broil.
Let the cake cool for a few minutes – enough for the center of the cake to firm up a bit, but before the cake cools completely. If the center of the cake is too soft or undercooked, the topping will sink.
6. Gently spoon the topping over the cake. Let the warmth of the cake soften the topping a bit. Then smooth the topping across the entire surface of the cake.
7. Place the cake in the oven under the broiler. I place it at least 8 inches away from the broiler. Let the cake cook until the coconut/sugar mix begins to bubble around the edges and there is a hint of the coconut browning. This may only take 2-3 minutes — depending on your broiler and rack placement. Be sure to watch carefully as sugar burns quickly!!
Remove cake from the oven and let cool. (If you are using a glass or ceramic baker, do not place your cake pan on a cold surface as some dishes (including Pyrex) cannot withstand temperature extremes.)
8. OPTIONAL: Whip heavy cream. Add sugar toward the end of the whipping process.
Slice cake and serve with whipped topping if desired.
9. DO-AHEAD DIRECTIONS: While best made the day of service, this cake and whipped cream can be made a day ahead. Store cake a room temperature, and refrigerate whipped cream.
NOTE: For best results, use weights rather than volume measures for baking. They are more accurate.
Sounds delicious, especially as I love most things with coconut.
Thanks Piglet (or do you prefer Johny?… although Piglet is so cute).
I love coconut too. I think that is why I had such fond memories of this cake. If you make it, you can add extra topping — sweeter and more coconut flavor.
Have a great holiday….
HaHaHa! Piglet isn’t actually me – if you read ‘About’ that’ll explain it. Johnny is preferable.
Likewise, the holiday season is upon us!
I’ll check out the “about”….
J – I love the story. I have similar moments when I see things my (German) Mum prepared for us as children.
Happy Christmas to you and the family. I hope you have a wonderful festive season.
TSL – Thanks. And thank you also for being my first “follower” (outside family and friends) and a big supporter in my inaugural blogging year. People like you have made it fun and inspired me to keep on trucking.
Have a great holiday season!
I promise to eat far too much! 🙂
Ooohh, what a sweet story. I have never heard about drømmekage, at least not the norwegian one. 😉 But maybe I should try making it, or even better, go to Copenhagen hopefully soon. I have been there only shortly, long time ago and love the danish people, and I think the city too. Very nice photos!
Thanks so much.
Do have some when you go to Copenhagen. I don’t think you will be disappointed!
What a wonderful story! I love how the holidays seem to bring out the best stories from people with every recipe that’s posted. And your Mother’s cake recipe sounds every bit as good as its accompanying tale, too. My Grandfather was cut from the same cloth as your Mother, only with an Italian flair. Everything good in the World came from Italy. It would have been something to watch the two of them attempt a conversation. 🙂
Ha. Yes. I’m sure it would have been similar to my Mother’s and Belarus-born paternal Grandfather’s ongoing battle of cultures:-) Funny on one hand. Yet, on the other, it was easy to understand their close connection to the “home” they had left behind.
I just love sour cream in baked goods –they always make everything so moist and delicious! This sounds so good right now with a cup of coffee. Mmmmm… 🙂
Yes, my Mother would agree. I’ve seen variations of this cake without the sour cream, but she included it.
Mother knows best!
I think I enjoyed your story as much as having the great sounding recipe.
Thanks Karen 🙂
I just wanted to stop back by to wish you a Merry Christmas.
Thanks Karen. To you as well and a Very Happy New Year!
A very sweet story for a very sweet delight. Have lovely holiday. BAM
Thanks. Wishing you a great holiday with lots of good food and friends.
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Jeannie, I believe that your Aunt Lilly made this cake as well. Sorry but I can’t remember what she called it. Lovely pictures. Lois
Perhaps that’s where Mom got it from. And I wonder if Aunt Lil got the recipe from Svend’s Danish family….
Ahh…. this brings back memories of growing up in Denmark (although I live in New Zealand now). Yum, now I have to go make this 🙂 So happy I found your blog and looking forward to see what new and exciting things you will be up to! Caroline
Do let me know if the cake is similar to what you remember. I’m not sure my mother’s was 100% authentic (especially considering she thought it was Norwegian). And thanks for your nice comment…
It is very similar indeed! I just haven’t heard of sour cream and cardamom being used in it before and the top is a little different. This is pretty much spot on the recipe that me and my friends grew up with http://www.arla.dk/opskrifter/Drommekage-fra-Brovst/ but I love your mothers take on it – she gave it her own touch and it looks delicious 🙂
Thanks Caroline 🙂 I will check out the recipe on your link as well…