Weekend Baking: Scandinavian Almond Strawberry Shortcake Bites

A Scandinavian Almond Cake pan has been tucked into my cupboard for several years. I remember tasting the sweet cake with texture of buttery pound cake and fragrant with almond at a friend’s house. She shared her recipe with me. I went straight to Stabo, the Scandinavian store at the local mall, to purchase one of the long, narrow, ridged and rounded pans of my own.

I think I’ve used the pan once.

The week before I was scheduled to do a cooking demonstration at the Lakes Area Farmers Market in Detroit Lakes, I paid a visit to the farmers and food vendors to see what I would have available to cook with. It was there I met Elsa, bread-baker extraordinaire. She owns Bethlehem “House of Bread.” My eyes lingered over racks of fresh, puffy loaves of bread, alluring caramel rolls and bags filled with substantial-looking granola. My eyes stopped at a few small, clear plastic bags filled with bite-size cubes of Scandinavian Almond Cake. I immediately thought of strawberry shortcake made in parfait glasses for individual servings with layers of these sweet bits of almond cake, fresh juicy strawberries and light, luscious sugar-spiked whipped cream.

I commented on a what a nice seasonal idea this was to sell Scandinavian Almond Cake cubed, ready to be served shortcake-style or layered into trifle. Elsa explained the cubes were an accidental result of almond cakes that didn’t quite release from the pan in perfect manner.

I remembered something the store clerk told me on that day long ago when I purchased my Scandinavian Almond Cake pan. “Use margarine when you make the cake. Don’t use butter. The cake will stick to the pan if you use butter.” She was adamant.

Me use margarine? There’s just no way.

I used butter. I allowed the cake to cool completely in the pan. When I was ready to turn the cake out of the pan, I held my breath as I slightly twisted the pan. I tipped it over. The cake stuck to the pan as if it were held by dried concrete. I turned the pan upside down and started whacking it on the counter covered with a clean kitchen towel. After several whacks, each one getting a bit more heft behind it, the cake finally came out of the pan — all in one piece.

This time of year, when local berry farms are harvesting strawberries and raspberries, Scandinavian Almond Cake sprinkled with powdered sugar, is a perfect accompaniment.

I cubed up a small portion of Scandinavian Almond Cake and carefully pushed them into strawberries (from a berry farm very near to where I live) that I’d sliced open with a sharp paring knife to form something that looked a bit like a tulip. A swirly squirt of an orange-almond-cream cheese topping completed the sweet little dessert.

Any cake with the texture of pound cake can be used for these one-bite strawberry shortcakes. For convenience, use frozen pound cake. I’d be tempted to brush frozen pound cake slices with some amaretto before cubing to give nice almond flavor.

Thanks, Elsa, for the inspiration. And, thanks to my friend Roberta for the Scandinavian Almond Cake recipe.

Scandinavian Almond Strawberry Shortcake Bites

  • Fresh Strawberries, rinsed
  • Small cubes of Scandinavian Almond Cake (recipe below) or pound cake
  • 1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted, chopped fine or ground up in food processor
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons half-and-half
  • Mint leaves or thyme blossoms, for garnish

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese with almonds and orange zest. Add half-and-half to thin the mixture a bit for easier piping. Spoon into a pastry bag with a number 10 metal tip, or a plastic zip-top bag with one corner snipped off.

With a sharp paring knife, slice stem end away from strawberries, creating a flat base. With flat side on work surface, cut 4 slits into tip of each berry, without going all the way through.

Gently push a cube of cake into the center of each cut berry.

Pipe cream cheese mixture over the top to cover the cake. Garnish with mint leaves or thyme blossoms.

Tips from the cook

  • These Bites can be prepared early in the day you will be serving them. This will allow for the cake to absorb some strawberry juice. Store, covered, in the refrigerator.
  • Toast slivered almonds in a preheated 350-degree oven for about 5 minutes. Cool completely before chopping or grinding in the food processor.

Roberta’s Scandinavian Almond Cake

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • Powdered sugar, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease cake pan and set aside. (Roberta sometimes sprinkles some finely chopped almonds in the pan, too.)

In large mixing bowl, beat sugar, egg, almond extract and milk together. Add flour and baking powder, mixing at low speed to blend. Add melted butter and mix well.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 40 to 50 minutes. Be sure to bake until fully done.

Cool cake in pan. Cross your fingers and turn the cake out of the pan.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar, slice and serve.

 

 

18 thoughts on “Weekend Baking: Scandinavian Almond Strawberry Shortcake Bites

  1. Sue – A few years ago I started making Scandinavian Almond Cakes using a teaspoon of coconut flavoring instead! I wrapped the cakes in plastic wrap and put a strand of ribbon around them to give to my friends & family as gifts! I am still asked by friends & family where their special Scandinavian cakes are when it comes to special occasions or gift-giving! Enjoyed reading your segment! I have two pans that I will have to start using again!

    • Oh, I love coconut, Michele. I’m going to try your suggestion in one of my next Scandinavian cakes. And, what lucky friends you have to receive your special cakes as gifts.
      Do have any tips (or secrets) for making sure the cake comes out of the pan all in one piece?

      • Sue – There are two tips I have for the cakes coming out of the pan like a picture! The first one you already seem to know and that is to use margarine. The second tip is to use the baking spray PAM in each cake tin! The coconut flavor gives the cake a rich flavor that I enjoy more than the almond! Let me know what you think of the taste when you make yours.

  2. This recipe sounds amazing. Anything with butter and almonds has to be good. Now I need to find a Scandinavian Almond Cake pan.

  3. These cakes are the best … I always use butter and have had only a couple of cakes not come out of the pan. I think it has to do with being patient about cooling them in the pan too. I give the pan a little twist and they usually pop right out.

    • Yes, Cheryl, I think that gentle little twist of the pan is essential — after the cake is completely cool. And, you’re right. It’s hard to wait for that cake to cool completely in the pan.

  4. Hi Sue, I also make these almond cakes. I use butter in the recipe and Baking Joy baking spray in the pans. However, I changed the recipe a bit. I separate two eggs and use the yolks in the mix as you are adding the milk. but I beat 3 egg whites and add them after I include the butter. The result is an even lighter cake with a crisp top. It takes a little longer to bake so I lay a piece of foil over the top to prevent the top from burning. Thanks for reminding me to get my pans out.

  5. The Scandinavian Almond Cake is a classic in our family. It is a rite of passage for each girl to get their own pan from my Grandma for Christmas. I believe my younger sister is still waiting for hers! I’ve managed to hook several of the graphic artists at the News Tribune on this sweet treat. We use butter in our family, and I’ve never had a problem getting the cake out of the pan. I do grease the pan well.

    • What a lovely tradition for each girl in the family to receive a very special cake pan from Grandma. It’s a good way to keep the delicious, sweet Scandinavian cake alive in your family through the generations. Thanks for sharing that, Jess.

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  7. I have started making the Almond Cake as well. I have made 25 cakes this week. Our church is having a bake sale. Anyway the cakes pop right out if you use the spray that has flour in it. Baker’s Joy and also Pam sell these. Has to be with the flour. My cakes have cooled slightly and they pop right out of the pan. My question – What would you suggest selling these for at a bake sale?

    • What a great idea for a church bake sale, Kathy. Maybe some readers will offer suggestions to help you come up with a price for the Almond Cakes. I’ve seen them sold at bake sales and a few farmers markets with prices ranging from $10.00 to $15.00 per cake.

  8. Love the idea for the strawberry shortcake bites with this cake – great for a party! I’ve made the cake with the Scandinavian pan several times and never had any trouble with it coming out – I always use butter, but I do also spray with PAM. We don’t wait for it to cool though, my husband and son can’t wait that long, and they love the cake warm. We usually whip some cream and garnish with assorted fruits – the flavor of this cake goes well with any fruit that is in season. I have a recipe for “hot milk cake” that is similar in flavor but made in a bundt cake pan and uses a confectioner’s sugar glaze, which is also nice for parties.

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