Simply elegant

 

A multi-layered Hvit dame kake is a traditional Norwegian cake for celebrations

Hvit dame kake

Hvit dame kake—White Lady Cake—features layers of sponge cake, hazelnut macaron, jam, and whipped cream, and it is draped with almond marzipan.

CHRISTY OLSEN FIELD
Taste of Norway Editor
The Norwegian American

The elegant marsipankake is a popular traditional cake option for celebrations throughout Norway, from weddings to Syttende Mai, confirmations to baptisms. 

In my initial research of marzipan cakes to develop a recipe for this wedding issue, I discovered Hvit dame kake, or White Lady Cake, from Bergen. 

This layer cake is comprised sukkerbrød (directly translated as sugar bread, but we call it sponge cake in English), hasselnøttbunn (hazelnut macaron layer), jam, and whipped cream, then draped in marzipan. It is rich and decadent!

It is said that the cake got its name from the German Kaiser Wilhelm, who regularly visited Bergen. During each visit, he was served this type of soft cake, with nut macaron base and marzipan. And when the cake was once again served, the emperor said, «Ah, nochmal die weisse Dame…» (“Ah, again the white lady.”) The White Lady is a ghost from German folklore. The name stuck, and it’s become a classic Bergen cake that is still popular today in bakeries throughout Norway!

I have to admit, I was intimidated to make this hvit dame kake at home, but I was surprised how quickly each component came together, thanks to my stand mixer and food processor. 

I set out to make a homemade marzipan for this cake, but ran into a number of problems. It tore badly when I rolled it out and became oily, despite trying three different recipes. Desperate for advice, I asked my friend who is a pastry chef, and she said that she buys it pre-made. I was able to buy some (by the pound!) from a nearby baking supply shop from marzipan manufacturer Mandelin. This marzipan texture is smooth, the flavor is balanced and nuanced, and it rolled out like a dream. Mandelin’s marizpan is available online through Amazon and other vendors.

Please note that this cake needs to chill in the fridge for several hours to let the cake layers set, so I recommend making the cake one day before you plan to serve it.

If you like a decadent, almond-forward cake with rich Norwegian tradition, I hope you try my recipe for Hvit dame kake!

Have you tried Hvit dame kake? I’d love to hear from you! Email me at food@na-weekly.com.

Hvit dame kake

Traditional White Lady Marzipan Cake

By Christy Olsen Field

Sponge cake layer

4 eggs

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. vanilla

1/8 tsp. table salt

Hazelnut macaron layer

1 cup whole hazelnuts (no need to remove skins)

1 tbsp. all-purpose flour

¾ cup granulated sugar, divided

2 egg whites

To decorate:

2 cups whipping cream, chilled

½ cup jam of your choice, such as strawberry or raspberry

1½ lbs. marzipan (I love the Mandelin brand, available at baking supply shops and online!)

1 tbsp. powdered sugar

Specialty equipment: 

Food processor

2 8-inch cake pans lined with parchment

8-inch cardboard cake round

Rolling pin

Stand mixer or hand mixer

Two pieces of parchment paper

Cake turntable and offset spatula are useful but not necessary

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Prepare the sukkerbrød (sponge cake) layer: 

Using a mixer, whip together eggs and sugar on high speed until fluffy and nearly white, about 5 minutes. 

Add in the flour, baking powder, and salt, and gently fold together with a rubber spatula until just combined. 

Line an 8-inch cake pan with parchment (do not grease this pan!), and gently scrape batter into pan. 

Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown on top and a toothpick comes out cleanly. Let cool completely in pan, and slide a knife around the edge to remove it.

Prepare the hasselnøttbunn (hazelnut macaron) layer: 

Turn down the oven temp to 250°F. 

In your food processor, combine the hazelnuts, flour, and ¼ cup sugar, and pulse until finely ground. 

In your mixer, whip together 2 egg whites and ½ cup sugar until glossy and it holds stiff peaks. 

Fold the hazelnut mixture into the whipped eggs white with a rubber spatula until combined. 

Butter your cake pan and line with parchment, and scrape the batter into the prepared pan. 

Bake for 1 hour, until crisp. Let cool completely in the pan. If it crumbles apart when you remove from the pan, don’t worry! It will be fine.

Prepare the whipped cream: Right before you’re ready to assemble the cake, whip the cream to stiff peaks in your stand mixer. No sugar is needed, because the marzipan is so sweet. It’s important that the cream is stiff, since it plays the supporting role in this cake.

Assemble your cake: 

Before you begin, give yourself a reminder that whipped cream can cover any problems with broken cake layers or imperfections. So does the marzipan!

Slice the sukkerbrød layer in half to give you two rounds. I do this on my cake turntable, using a serrated knife in a sawing motion and gently turning the cake.

Place one sukkerbrød layer on the cardboard round, cut side up. Spread half of the jam onto the cake. Dollop on some whipped cream and spread into an even layer. 

Add the hazelnut macaron layer. If it breaks, it’s okay if it crumbles! Add more whipped cream and spread to an even layer. 

On the cut side of the remaining sukkerbrød half, spread the remaining jam, and place on top of the cake, jam side down. 

Frost the top and sides with the remaining whipped cream, making it at smooth as you can. 

Place in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

Flatten your marzipan into a round disk, and roll out into a large circle that is about 1/8–inch thick.

With confidence, drape the marzipan over the cake. Trim off the edges at the base of the cake. You can tuck under the rough ends, or garnish with additional whipped cream.

Refrigerate the cake for a couple of hours to let the layers set. 

This article originally appeared in the March 12, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

Christy Olsen Field

Christy Olsen Field became the Taste of Norway Editor in April 2019. She worked on the editorial staff of the Norwegian American Weekly from 2008 to 2012. An enthusiastic home cook and baker, she lives north of Seattle with her husband and two young sons. She is also a grantwriter for small nonprofits in the Seattle area.

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