Celebrate summer with Solskinnskake
With flecks of lemon and a spongy texture, Norwegian sunshine cake is sure to please
Taste of Norway Editor
My earliest memory is of the sun shining diagonally through the eastern-facing window of my nursery room. The door swings open as my mom steps through. I see it all through crib-slat lines, the geometric triangles of light and the vertical pillars of infant security.
We crave the sun. We create rituals of warmth and coziness to carry us through the dark months and the cold. The Danish idea of hygge and Norwegian kos have bolstered many through the heaviness of those times. But now the sun stays out later in the day. Plants break through thawing ground and leaves unfurl from dormant trees.
Living in Seattle, a city dripping with a reputation for rain, I find myself turning toward the sun, feeling a thrill at the sight of flowers and saying a silent thank you to the birds for singing their joyful songs.
The Norwegians have a cake named after the sun: solskinnskake, or sunshine cake. The texture itself is even lighter than the typical Scandinavian cakes that I love so much, a butterless sponge cake that bounces back after the fork cuts through. The flavor itself—the essence of lemon—hints at a time of warmth.
I have yet to experience the mørketid, the time in winter when the sun never rises above the horizon north of a certain latitude, but I have soaked up the extended sunlight at the peak of summer in Norway, and I’ve seen how the sun enlivens the population. It only makes sense that there should be a cake named after the sun.
I found the recipe for this cake in a Scandinavian cookbook from the 1960s. I’ve written many times about how the food of Norway has helped me connect with my heritage and better understand the people who left house and home and country in search of a new life in America. Though I was born and raised in the Seattle area, I feel more and more like there’s a bit of Norway beating in my heart.
I’ll keep baking cakes and working my way through the ever-growing collection of Scandinavian cookbooks I’m accumulating. Each recipe tells a story, and they’re providing a way to keep heritage alive for the next generation. Just as my earliest memory involves the sun and the loving presence of my mother, I can’t help but hope that the coziness of our kitchen becomes the setting of some of my children’s earliest and sweetest memories.
Lemon-Flecked Norwegian Sunshine Cake (Solskinnskake)
Adapted from The Complete Scandinavian Cookbook by Alice B. Johnson (1964)
for the cake:
6 eggs, separated
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1⁄8 tsp. salt
1 ¼ cups sugar
grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tsps. lemon juice
1 cup cake flour, sifted
for the icing:
1 ¼ cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tbsps. whipping cream
2 tbsps. lemon juice
grated lemon zest for garnish, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan. Beat the egg whites in a large bowl for a minute or so until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and salt and continue to beat until stiff. Add the sugar, then beat until stiff again.
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks. Add the whites, lemon zest, and lemon juice and carefully fold in. Fold in the flour just until incorporated, then pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Set on a wire rack to cool, then run a knife along the perimeter and remove from the pan.
While the cake cools, make the icing. In a medium bowl, whisk the powdered sugar with the cream and lemon juice until smooth. Spread the icing on the cake and serve. Garnish with a little more lemon zest, for color, if you’d like.
This article first appeared on Outside Oslo (www.outside-oslo.com/2016/04/11/lemon-flecked-norwegian-sunshine-cake-solskinnskake) and is reprinted here with permission.
This article originally appeared in the July 28, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.