I have to admit, fyrstekake was never my favorite Norwegian cake. The versions I grew up experiencing were always very dense, sometimes dry and most often too rich to even enjoy more than one bite. Perhaps this is why I’ve been hesitant to make it regularly. I am thrilled to report that my efforts to veganize this cake produced a result I am much happier with than the cakes I used to eat as a child and one I wrote about before I went vegan.
Interestingly, ever since going plant based, I’ve been enjoying re-making classic recipes and have found that in many instances I’ve fallen in love with dishes that didn’t traditionally excite me. Fyrstekake is definitely one of these instances.
So what is fyrstekake? “Fyrste” means prince royal in Norwegian, so this really is a cake fit for royalty! Today, it might have a reputation as an old fashioned cake, perhaps not for everybody and definitely not a cake younger people make that frequently. Filled with a delicious almond base similar to frangipane, and too much butter to admit, it’s rich, decadent and definitely all about the almonds. While not the prettiest cake to look at, we all know looks can deceive, and when this cake is baked right – it’s juicy and super enjoyable.
Fyrstekake is for many people associated with Christmas, and is said to have originated sometime in the 1860s at Erichsen’s Bakeshop in Trondheim and was the bakery’s pride and joy – and secret. The ingredients were always measured out and weighed the night before the cake were to be baked, after the bakers had gone home. Eventually, the bakeshop closed down, and the secret was out.
The trick to a successful fyrstekake is in the buttery dough. Often there is too much dough compared to filling, which causes the cake to be dry. Going more conservative with the amount of dough as well as making it lighter, is key. I like to use brown sugar instead of regular or confectioner’s sugar in the filling, as I find it adds a nice caramel-like flavor that adds to the cake. Many recipes have cardamom in the almond filling while some don’t – I elected to omit it in this recipe but you can add in 1/2 tsp if you so wish. I also used Follow Your Heart’s VeganEgg, but if you can’t find that in your local shop, you can substitute 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flax seeds combined with 6 tbsp water).
Fyrstekake holds the memory of sitting outside our cabin in the mountains with an afternoon cup of coffee, enjoying the sun. It’s a rustic cake that is a meal in itself, and definitely will please those who are into hearty, nut-filled cakes.
Let me just forewarn you: this is not a cake you want to make or eat if you’re on a diet – there’s nothing light or healthy about it. Loaded with butter, sugar and nuts, it’s a special occasion cake, but a little slice will go a long way, so make sure you have someone to share it with!
For the pai dough:
2 1/2 cups or 300 grams all purpose flour
1/2 cup or 100 grams organic confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 sticks (about 200 grams) vegan butter
1 tbsp ground chia seeds combined with 3 tbsp water
For the almond filling:
2 sticks (about 200 grams) vegan butter
1 cup or 200 grams organic brown sugar
1 1/2 cups or 200 grams almonds, ground
2 tbsp VeganEgg mixed with 1/2 cup ice cold water
1 tbsp ground flax seeds mixed with 3 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
3-4 drops almond extract (optional)
a little plant based milk for brushing on dough
demerara sugar for sprinkling on top of cake
To make the pie dough:
Add the flour, confectioner’s sugar, baking powder and butter in a food processor. Process until a dough forms, add in the chia egg. I like to grind the chia seeds in a blender with the water to make it more gelatinous first, I find that improves the blending.
When the dough forms, pour it onto a lightly floured work surface, and divide into two; 2/3 should be for the bottom of the cake, and 1/3 for the top. Shape the dough pieces into a circle, lightly wrap with plastic wrap and leave in fridge for an hour or two.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a round pie plate – mine measures 10 inches (25 cm).
Make the almond filling:
Grind the almonds in a food processor.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the brown sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla paste or extract, VeganEgg mixture, then the flax egg. Combine well.
Pull out the dough from the fridge. Roll out the large piece on top of parchment paper into a circle larger than your pan. You’ll want to roll it out on a piece of paper or mat because the dough is very buttery and will stick and be difficult to transfer off the table if you don’t. Carefully transfer the dough circle onto the pie pan and push it down and up against the edges. Cut off any additional overhang.
Pour the almond mixture into the prepared dough.
Roll out the smaller piece of the dough and with a pizza slicer, slice into 1-inch strips. Place them criss cross on top of the almond filling, brush the dough with a little plant based milk and sprinkle with demerara sugar (or regular sugar).
Bake in oven or about 50 minutes. Check in on cake after 30 minutes – the dough might get a bit dark, so cover with foil for the last 20 minutes.
Let cool on wire rack for 30 minutes to an hour before digging in!