I have always wanted to visit Sweden, it seems strange that I haven’t made it to this beautiful country yet, as it’s relatively close to the UK and my mother’s family have roots there……but, I haven’t managed it yet, and I may have to remedy that soon. When I do manage a visit there, I would LOVE to be there over Midsummer, between the 19th and the 23rd of June. The days are long, with almost 24 hours of daylight, and the flowers, fruit and wilds berries are out, ready for picking.
Midsummer Eve is celebrated in the countryside; it’s a wonderful occasion where family and friends gather in woods and open flower meadows - here they celebrate the longest day with dancing around a Maypole (or should I say Junepole), gathering flowers, picking berries and enjoying picnics, with many going on all night. On the way home, young unmarried girls are supposed to pick seven different types of flowers – they place these under their pillows and their future husbands are supposed to appear to them in their dreams! The traditional food for Midsummer are pickled herrings, new potatoes served in a sour cream and dill sauce with hard boiled eggs, Swedish meatballs, gravadlax (cured salmon), “Västerbottensost” cheese pie, assorted breads and crisp breads. Schnapps and beer is enjoyed with these foods, and for dessert, there is only one way to end your Midsummer picnic meal, and that’s with a slice of Strawberry and Cream cake, called “Gräddtårta med Jordgubbar” in Sweden.
The cake is traditionally made with a fat-less sponge cake, has three layers at least, all filled with an egg enriched cream and packed with sweet strawberries. Although I love confectioner’s custard, the type of filling that is used in this classic Swedish cake, I decided to lighten my recipe up a bit, with some advice from a Swedish friend, and I used a simple Chantilly cream for my filling; I also deviated a little, and added some fresh raspberries to my cake, as I have so many in the garden right now. But, I feel that most Swedes will forgive me, as they are a nation of berry lovers!
My recipe is shared below, and the fatless sponge recipe was taken from a recipe that I discovered on the Visit Sweden website, which I adapted slightly. I think that we should all embrace Midsummer this year, and take to the countryside with our favourite picnic food, as well as a few slices of this divine cake! Have a magical Midsummer’s Eve and I hope you all enjoy this cake as much as we all did when I made it.