As a Swedish mom in the US, I wanted to expose my children to the“old country’’s” customs. One of those is to celebrate your birthday with a special cake. In the kingdom of Sweden we might not all be loyal royalists, but we do love our Princess Cake.
It’s a round, layered pound cake with a vanilla pudding like filling, whipped cream, sometimes a layer of raspberry jam and a green marzipan cover, sprinkled lightly with powdered sugar and decorated on top center with a pink rose, also made of marzipan.
Sometimes the cake is also decorated with, in Swedish, writings like “Happy Birthday, Klara!”
Newfangled cake bakers also produce Princess Cakes with a pink, or even a horrid pale purple colored marzipan cover.
The birthday “baby” usually gets the rose. By your 37th birthday most Swedes are willing to forgo the rose to a child at the table. Or even split it between arguing siblings.
My children grew up with my mentor Pippi Longstocking; with chickens at Easter, and a living Santa visiting irl on Christmas Eve. One who brought a sack with gifts, sometimes bore a suspicious resemblance to Uncle Alfred, accepted a taste of the mulled wine and who did not keep reindeers. The Swedish Santa comes from the deep forests, on foot, and would not ever contemplate going through a chimney!
I baked special Swedish buns for Fat Tuesday, sang the old lullabies and played the songs by the most famous troubadours, world wide known in all of Sweden!
Imagine my delight when I discovered an “International” bakery on Freeport Boulevard selling Princess Cakes. Green ones. Little Gustav was about to turn five, this was in late April, and so I contentedly ordered one for the party.
“It doesn’t taste organic”, said his friend Seth, quickly hushed by his mother.
Turned out the cake was only slightly Americanized, with a string of chocolate in the middle, so the party was a success as all the little boys without hesitation ate the cake.
Six months later it was time for the younger sister’s birthday. I’m again off to the International Bakery, ready to order the most Swedish birthday cake possible.
“Sorry, it’s out of season”, says the friendly clerk and tilts her head just so, and you can really see how sorry she is and immediately understand that there is no room for exceptions to this sad fact. No baker in this establishment may be bribed to put together some pound cake, whipped cream and marzipan this time of year.
“It’s out of season? There’s a season for Princess Cake? In California?”, I can’t believe my ears. “Yes,ma’m, Princess Cake is a spring cake”, assures me the clerk who probably can’t even pin-point Sweden on the world map.
So Klara and her friends got a cake looking like a pumpkin – in season – and were all very happy as they all wore Princess dress-up dresses. And that goes a long way when you’re three!