The History of Prinsesstårta (Princess Cake)

The History of Prinsesstårta (Princess Cake)

The green Swedish cake is the stuff of dessert legend. And we’re here today to explore the history of prinsesstårta, or princess cake as it’s known elsewhere.

It’s a funny looking thing when you think about it, but it’s past into legend now and is on the public conscience as much as England’s mighty Battenberg cake.

But it’s also very tasty and has accommodated for many childhood memories. Including ours! Let’s don a marzipan cape and take a closer look.

What’s Prinsesstårta (Princess Cake)?

It’s a traditional Swedish dessert that’s layered with sponge, pastry cream, jam, whipped cream, and then surrounded by green marzipan.

Unquestionably, it’s that distinctive green marzipan covering that’s made it iconic. However, there are variants on the marzipan colour. These include:

  • Yellow: Prinstårta (prince cake).
  • Red/pink: Operatårta (opera cake).

It’s quite enchanting. One memory of ours as a kid was seeing the prinsesstårta in the family fridge (circa ’92). It was too tempting, we jammed a finger into the cake to get a taste and left behind a great big hole. We were convinced no one would notice.

Naturally, the Wapojif clan did notice and the future editor was sentenced to 355 years grounded. Harsh.

But that highlights the regal nature of prinsesstårta. It was fit for Swedish royalty and, therefore, not really suitable for lower middle-class reprobates.

But if you’re a commoner and think you can handle this stuff, here’s a brief history of green meets the Queen.

What’s the History of Prinsesstårta (Princess Cake)?

Prinsesstårta was invented by food writer and home economics tutor Jenny Åkerström (1867-1957). She invented the thing early in the 20th century.

Åkerström held quite a lofty position in Sweden’s royal court. She was acquainted with Prince Carl, the Duke of Västergötland (1861-1951), and taught his three daughters: Margaretha, Märtha, and Astrid.

The Duke was the brother of King Gustaf V (1858-1950), who I think we can all agree was much better than King Gustaf IV.

Anyway, Margaretha, Märtha, and Astrid were besotted with the dish. Initially, it went by the highly inventive name of grön tårta (green cake). But due to the princesses’ interest, it had a name change to suit its grand stature.

Prinsesstårta has something of a royal secret until the midway point of the 20th century. Only in 1948 did it appear in print when it adorned the cookbook Prinsessornas kokbok.

After that it spread across the world. Recipes have a habit of doing that, such as with banoffee pie. Someone on their travels can try a local dish, take the recipe with them, and it’s suddenly popping up on a different continent a few months later.

There was no stopping prinsesstårta after 1948. The rest is cake-based history.

How to Make Prinsesstårta (Princess Cake)

The ingredients for any cake are as vast as the Universe. And we’re not a cooking site, dammit, so we’ll just cover the basics.

What you’ll need to make this dashing, tasty, chilled, refreshing cake is as follows. And this is just for the green marzipan bit:

400 grams of ground almonds
150 grams caster sugar
250 grams of sugar with extra for dusting
2 medium eggs
1 tablespoon of almond extract green food colouring paste

Around that most important aspect, you’ll need to cobble together a cake underneath the topping. You’ll need:

Vanilla custard
Jam
Sponge

We remember making a Christmas cake in GCSE cooking classes in 1998. Proud of that one, we are! But making a cake is bloody hard work.

All those hours of hard work leads to something you can easily consume in seconds.

But it’s worth it for prinsesstårta. It’s one of those luxuries you take for granted. Right there on supermarket shelves ready and waiting for you.

Why not be a precious princess and eat some? It’s rather tasty. You have our permission to rip the cake packaging off there in the store and consume. It’s for the good of your country.

7 comments

  1. Just goes to show about formative experiences ~ that 355 years may have seemed long at the time, but through sheer unadulterated boredom they turned you into the writer you are today! Blessing in (deep) disguise!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Looks completely complicated to make a Prinsesstårta, and Jenny Åkerström should have got a PhD for it. Cakes mystify me. I did get asked to make a ‘Madeira’ once. Took me a couple of years, and I really don’t know how anybody could slice it, still less serve it on a plate – I mean, the stuff’s completely runny and comes in bottles.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cake in a bottle? That’s a novel idea. I can see that doing well. No baking time, just slurp from the single-use plastic container. Wholesome!

      I made a Christmas cake in the winter of 1998. That’s been about it since then. It seems like a fine art of many hours of patient baking… before consuming the sugary badness in mere minutes. Hurray!

      Liked by 1 person

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