When I am bored, I bake. Earlier on in the week I was in one of those moods where I just don’t know what to do with myself when I realised that it had been far too long since I last made a cake; I wasn’t in the mood for something fussy, or iced, or complicated. I wanted a simple, rustic, hearty cake, this fit the bill exactly. Toscakaka is a traditional Swedish cake comprised of a light, buttery, moist vanilla sponge topped with an addictive, gooey, crunchy, caramel almond praline. It is delicious with coffee, but equally good served warm with some vanilla ice cream.
I found this recipe in the fabulous cookbook Scandilicious Baking by Signe Johansen, I have yet to try any of her other recipes but if this one is anything to go by they will not disappoint.
I only made one change to the original recipe in that I decided to toast the flaked almonds to give them a nuttier flavour, you can omit this step if you prefer.
The topping is made with a salted caramel, which really brings out the flavour; be careful when adding the salt though, it is easy to add too much, start with 1/4 tsp, then taste and gradually add more until the flavour is right for you. Be careful not to burn yourself when tasting the hot caramel though! (and try not to eat it all before you put it on the cake…I know it’s tempting…)
The cake keeps well in a tin for 3-4 days.
Toscakaka (Swedish Caramel, Almond Vanilla Cake)
(Please note: although I have provided a conversion from grams to US cup measurements I cannot guarantee the accuracy as I do not bake using cups, I thoroughly recommend investing in a digital metric scale, it is far more accurate.)
- 75ml (1/4 cup + 1tbsp) buttermilk (or 75ml whole milk with 1/2 tsp lemon juice mixed in, or 75ml yoghurt)
- 75g (1/4 cup + 1tbsp) unsalted butter
- 3 eggs
- 150g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 150g (1 1/4 cups) plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 150g (1 + 3/4 cups) flaked almonds
- 125g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
- 125g (2/3 cup) light brown sugar
- 50ml (1/8 cup + 1tbsp + 1tsp) whole milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 – 1 tsp fine sea salt
Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/gas mark 3, grease a 23cm round loose-bottomed cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.
Spread the almonds out on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 5-10 minutes until they are a pale golden colour then set them aside. Watch them carefully as they toast as they can go from being perfectly toasted to burnt very quickly.
Melt the butter for the cake in a saucepan, pour into a bowl and set aside to cool slightly.
Whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract in a large bowl until pale, thick and creamy, this is best done with an electric mixer. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt then sift 1/3rd of it over the egg mixture, carefully fold it in using a large metal spoon or a spatula, trying not to knock any of the air out. Next, fold in half of the buttermilk, then another third of the flour, then the rest of the buttermilk, then the last of the flour and finally the melted butter. Be very gentle to conserve as much volume as possible, but try not to leave any pockets of flour.
Carefully pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden and firm to the touch. A toothpick inserted should come out clean. When the cake has been in the oven for about 15 minutes, start preparing the praline topping; place all of the topping ingredients in a saucepan (I re-used the one that I melted the butter for the cake in to save on washing up) and place over a medium-low heat, bring to a simmer, stirring the whole time. Allow to simmer for 3-4 minutes until it thickens slightly.
Remove the cake from the oven and turn the temperature up to 220°C/425°F/ gas mark 7. Pour the hot praline over the cake while it is still in its tin and spread it out into an even layer. Put the cake back in the oven on the upper shelf and cook for 5-10 minutes until the topping is crisp, golden brown and bubbling.
Allow to cool for a few minutes in the tin, then run a knife around the edges to separate the praline from the tin; don’t leave it too long before doing this or the praline will set hard. Gently remove the cake from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.
(recipe adapted from Scandilicious Baking by Signe Johansen)