A princess cake is a traditional Swedish dessert which consists of layers of cake covered in pastry cream and a rich marzipan frosting. When well crafted, a princess cake looks very elegant, and it can be rather tasty as well, especially when eaten on the day it is made. Making one certainly requires some preparation, but it can be well worth it, since the cake presents so beautifully. The cake is also surprisingly versatile, because while it is carefully defined, each ingredient can be individually altered for a unique look and flavor.
There are four primary components to princess cake: the cake, pastry cream, jam, and the marzipan covering. To make a princess cake, the chef spreads a thin layer of jam onto a layer of cake, follows with pastry cream, adds another layer of cake, and repeats the process. The entire cake is frosted with pastry cream to keep the crumbs in, and then a sheet of rolled marzipan is placed over the cake, covering it. The cake may be decorated with piped flowers and other ornaments, and it is kept under refrigeration until it is served.
Traditionally, the cake is a simple white cake with a mild crumb. Some cooks use sponge cake, which is denser, for a more intense princess cake. Exotic cooks might even use chocolate or spice cake, although these deviations test the boundaries of princess cake. The cake may also be briefly soaked in a mild syrup solution for additional moisture and flavor.
Any flavor of jam can be used in a princess cake, from simple raspberry to more exotic kumquat. Using multiple types of jam is also perfectly acceptable, and it can create interesting layers of flavor. The important thing is that the layers of jam in a princess cake are kept thin. The pastry cream can be substituted with whipped cream, although whipped cream is more prone to collapse, which is not desired.
Finally, the specialty cake must be finished with a smooth layer of marzipan frosting, which is traditionally dyed a pale green. Marzipan can be difficult to work with, but one cooks get the hang of it, it is relatively easy to use. When used as a frosting, marzipan is usually rolled out, almost like pie dough, and then draped onto the cake in question.
In most cases, a princess cake will be made as a single large round or log, with individual servings being cut out as needed. Ambitious bakers, however, may make individual cupcakes as a special treat. Making princess cakes on a small scale like this requires patience and a steady hand, but the end result can be quite charming.