[This is no April Fools’ joke. Mom in chief Julie Podulka has returned to tell you about a different–tastier–kind of souvenir.]
Souvenirs do not have to be hung on a wall or stashed in a curio cabinet. One of my favorite souvenirs lies quietly within a plastic pocket protector snuggled in the dark recesses of my recipe binder. The Norwegians call it “The World’s Best Cake,” but that name always struck me as rather pedestrian for something born in this otherworldly place. So I renamed it “Norwegian Cloud Cake.” Here is the story.
One evening while in Balestrand, Norway, on the shores of the Sognefjord, my husband and I wandered into a little family restaurant and bakery off the dock.
We had a traditional Norwegian meal of potatoes, carrots, and gravy smothered meatballs. But I had spotted something on the dessert menu called “The World’s Best Cake.” Well, I mean! Who could resist something with a name like that? So, we ordered a piece, ate it, and yup. They weren’t kidding. It was the world’s best cake. So I chatted with the baker, and when I got home I jumped online just to check ingredients and measurements, and voila! The recipe for this unusual meringue, cake, and pastry cream dessert is now mine for the making. And when I take that first forkful of moist and creamy crunchy goodness and close my eyes, there I am, back on the dock looking out at the dolphins flashing in and out of the still, dark water of the fjord, soaking in the golden twilight that will never really turn to night this far north. Yes, a little piece of cake can indeed be a treasured travel touchstone.
Kvaefjord Cake or World’s Best Cake or (according to Julie) Norwegian Cloud Cake
Step 1 – First layer of base
5½ ounces butter
¾ cup sugar
6 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
Whisk the sugar and butter until smooth and pale. Fold in the other ingredients. Mix well. Spread on a 14 x 17 inch baking pan lined with baking/greaseproof paper.
Step 2 – Second layer of base (meringue)
6 egg whites
1 cup sugar
4 oz. sliced almonds
½ tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. cornstarch
Make sure eggs are fresh and eggs and bowl are at room temperature. Whisk egg whites and slowly add sugar over 2 minutes, adding cream of tartar and cornstarch until stiff peaks form (meringue). Spread evenly over base made in step 1. Sprinkle 4 ounces sliced almonds on top of the meringue. Bake the two layers together at 350 degrees Fahrenheit in lower part of the oven, for 25-30 minutes.
Step 3 – Filling
1 package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 cup heavy cream
To make filling, whip the cream and make the vanilla pudding separately. Then mix the cream and vanilla pudding gently together, and refrigerate until cold and firm.
Let the cake cool down after removing it from the oven. Cut it in half. Flip half of the cake meringue side down on a serving plate and spread the filling on top of one half, and cover with the other half of the cake. (Begin meringue side down and end meringue side up). Serve immediately upon constructing otherwise the pastry cream just gets sucked up by the cake and the meringue begins to deflate.