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.