A lemon cake in the color of Easter

Yellow hints at spring’s flowers, eggs, and the reappearance of the sun

Photo: Sunny Gandara Lemons have been used in Norwegian cooking longer than you might think—and they’re perfect for a sunny springtime cake.

Photo: Sunny Gandara
Lemons have been used in Norwegian cooking longer than you might think—and they’re perfect for a sunny springtime cake.

Sunny Gandara
Arctic Grub

Easter is an exciting time and one Norwegians look forward to, as it’s the week when they trek to the mountains in search of snow, sun, skiing, and—of course—great food! The Easter holiday is huge in Norway, and most Norwegians take off an entire week, perhaps up to 10 days, to celebrate. This time of year, like Christmas, always makes me homesick as I never get the same feeling of this celebratory time in my adopted country of the United States. Work always seems to take center stage here, while the opposite might be said to be true in my native country. Life is a little more than your career—it is enjoyment, spending time with family and friends, traveling, getting away from the hustle and bustle, and preparing special foods to ring in the holiday.

Food with the color yellow is always popular around Easter. Think Easter eggs, yellow flowers, the color of the sun (which has finally reappeared this time of year after a long winter), and of course, lemons. Citrus is particularly highlighted this time of year, and not just the oranges, which so many of you already know is a recurring theme in Norway. Lemon cake has been regarded as an old-fashioned cake, until recently—now modern cooks are reviving it as part of an increased interest in Norwegian food history and culture.

When I say old, I mean old. A recipe for this cake was discovered to be from as far back as 1814, and it was surprising to most to learn that lemons were listed, but it goes to show that this was a completely normal ingredient in Norway even then.
According to Norsk Mat, it was not uncommon to grow oranges in the 18th century. In Christopher Hammer’s book Norsk Kogebok from 1793, he wrote that at Melbostad farm in Opp­land they would harvest their own oranges and lemons. This is why I find it so fascinating to research my own country’s culinary history; not even in my wildest imagination would I have thought this was the case!

Sitronkake is outrageously delicious with a cup of coffee and perfect to bring along on a hike or as we say in Norwegian, “på tur.” You will see different versions of pre-packaged lemon cake in Norwegian stores, most often without a glaze and in more of a plain pound cake style. The one I’m sharing in this article is a more decadent version and wonderful to serve when you have guests over. Some people also make a lemon curd and spread on top, making the cake look and taste of sunshine—perfect for the Easter holiday! With this, I would like to wish God Påske to all the Norwegian American Weekly’s readers and also say thank you for your continued support of my Norwegian blog, Arctic Grub, and FB page, Fork and Glass!

Photo: Sunny Gandara

Photo: Sunny Gandara

3 lemons
1 ½ cups plant based milk
1 cup or 200 grams (almost 2 sticks) vegan butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3 cups all purpose flour
3 tbsps. cornstarch
3 tsps. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt

Lemon glaze:
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and lightly flour a round 10-inch cake pan.

Zest one of the lemons and squeeze the juice from all three. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice and zest with the milk and let it sit for a few minutes.

In a bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the milk and lemon mixture. Sift in the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and combine just until the streaks of flour are gone.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake the cake in the middle of the oven for about 40-50 minutes, depending on your oven, until a cake tester runs clear in the middle.

While the cake cools, prepare the lemon glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together the juice, zest, and confectioner’s sugar until you have a thick glaze. When the cake is completely cool, drizzle and spread the glaze over the cake and serve!

Makes one 10-inch cake.

Sunny Gandara has over 15 years experience in marketing and PR, both in the music and beverage industry. In 2008 she founded her own company, Fork and Glass, a food and wine event and consulting company, located in the Hudson Valley of New York. She now focuses on education, giving seminars and classes to private and corporate groups. Sunny, a native of Norway, is a professionally trained cook and holds a diploma in Wines & Spirits from the WSET.

This article originally appeared in the March 18, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.