Smorgastarta is a traditional Swedish Sandwich Cake enjoyed year round, especially during special celebrations like Midsommar, birthday parties and weddings.
Our quick & easy homemade Swedish Sandwich Cake features a “savoury icing” made up of whipped cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream and fresh dill. The interior is layered with bread slices, egg salad and German ham & pickle salad. The Swedish entree is then topped with sliced vegetables, fresh herbs and lemon slices.
Authentic Smörgåstårta has eye-popping appeal, sure to impress your guests. After slicing into the savoury sandwich cake they’ll be dazzled by layers of bread and colourful fresh cold salads.
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What Is Smörgåstårta?
Ever wished upon a star hoping you could eat a slice of cake for dinner? With Sweden’s Smorgastarta, you can!
Smörgåstårta literally translates to “sandwich cake,” but rather than being constructed of sweet sponge cake and buttercream, it’s assembled with layers of bread, and alternating cold salad fillings.
The Swedish dish is also popular in neighbouring Scandinavian countries like Estonia (võileivatort), Finland (voileipäkakku) and Iceland (brauðterta).
The first recorded reference to Swedish Sandwich Cake was in a Småland newspaper in 1934, and it appears to have grown in popularity after the World War II, possibly due to the free availability of ingredients such as butter and cheese after rationing ended.
In 2012, November 13th was chosen as the official “Smorgastarta Day,” following Swedish’s beloved tradition of giving national foods their own day of celebration. It was popularized by the group Smörgåstårtans Vänner, translating to Friends of the Sandwich Cake.
It is a celebratory savoury cake that is similar to a sandwich, but with large amounts of filling and garnish, similar to a layered cream cake.
Swedish Sandwich Cake is normally made up of several layers of whole wheat or light rye bread with creamy fillings in between. The fillings and toppings vary, but egg and mayonnaise are often the base; additional fillings may include one or more of the following: liver pâté, olives, shrimp, ham, cold cuts, caviar, tomato, cucumber, grapes, lemon slices, cheese, and smoked salmon.
Smorgastarta is served cold and cut like a dessert cake. The types of sandwich cakes vary from meat, fish, combinations of cheeses and meats, to vegetarian or vegan. The garnishes on top often reflect the ingredients hidden inside.
History of Midsommar
The Midsommar period of time is centred around the summer solstice, typically between June 19 and June 25. The ancient celebration predates Christianity, and existed under different names and traditions around the world.
In Sweden, Midsummer is such an important festivity that there have been proposals to make the Midsummer’s Eve into the National Day of Sweden, instead of June 6. In Latvia, Midsummer’s Jāņi festival is a public holiday. In Denmark and Norway, it may also be referred to as St. Hans Day.
Midsommar in Sweden is marked by families raising and dancing around a maypole (majstång or midsommarstång). Greenery placed over houses and barns was supposed to bring good fortune and health to people and livestock; this old tradition of decorating with greens continues. To decorate with greens was called att maja (to may) and may be the origin of the word majstång, maja coming originally from the month May.
In ancient pagan rites, bonfires were lit to protect families from evil spirits who were considered free to wander when the sun was going south. The May tree refers to a phallic symbol commonly used in pagan rites to symbolize the fertility and durability of harvest in the Viking era.
Like in Norway and Finland, it is believed that if a girl picks 7 different flowers in silence of the midsummer night and puts them underneath her pillow, she will dream of her future husband.
Another tradition on Swedish Midsummer is to end it with a skinny dip at night. It’s not mandatory to be naked, but many swim completely naked accompanied with a partner after a couple sips of schnapps!
In 2019, traditions and iconography from Swedish folklore were displayed in the much talked about Midsommar film. Dubbed the most haunting horror film of the year, director Ari Aster filmed a terrifying tale of a creepy Swedish Midsommar feast. Sadly, actress Florence Pugh was never given the opportunity to indulge in a slice of Swedish Sandwich Cake. For shame!
Take it from the Swedes, Smorgastarta is a great meal idea for large gatherings in the summer. Rather than preparing hundreds of sandwiches for a summer family picnic, why not construct one dazzling Swedish sandwich cake?
Travel To Sweden by Making Smörgåstårta at Home
I love traveling to Europe!
During my first visit to the continent I traveled for 5 months by train and plane. I had the opportunity to eat my way through Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, Holland, Russia, Estonia, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Croatia, Bosnia, Hungary, Slovakia, Greece, Turkey and Italy.
I first bought Scandinavian Sandwich Cake in a grocery store in Goteborg. I had never dreamed you could transform the solitary sandwich concept into a more celebratory, shared savoury cake experience. I ate an entire store bought Smörgåstårta, lured by the pretty toppings including cucumber, tomatoes, orange slices, grapes and cold cuts.
Once back home from a Scandinavian holiday you’ll have a newfound appreciation for the flavours of Sweden and can impress friends and family by making your very own homemade Smorgastarta!
My Family Loves Swedish Sandwich Cake
After encountering Swedish Sandwich Cake on a visit to Sweden during Midsommar I thought I should introduce the unique sandwich cake to my family back home.
I knew my family would love Smörgåstårta because they love eating sandwiches and sweet cake slices. This popular Swedish dish is perfect for cooks who enjoy delighting their guests with recipes that feature creative food design and edible surprises!
I assembled this Smorgastarta recipe at the cottage in Muskoka on a cool Autumn day. In the morning I cut slices of whole wheat and sourdough bread to make a long rectangular cake. I then prepared the cream cheese frosting, egg salad and German ham salad.
Using a palette knife I assembled each layer of the cake, alternative bread slices and salads, creating serious eye appeal once sliced. The top of the sandiwch cake is garnished with slices of lemon, cucumber. radish, capers and fresh herbs.
I stored the sandwich cake in the fridge and surprised everyone at the table during a lunch, unveiling a multi-layered finger-licking-good masterpiece!
Swedish Sandwich Cake Bread
You can assemble a Smorgastarta are two ways.
- Using normal sandwich bread slices with the crusts removed. We use this method by placing 4 slices of bread into each layer, creating a square or rectangular shaped Smörgåstårta.
- Some Swedish Sandwich Cake recipes use circular loaves like a traditional rye or pumpernickel loaf. If you opt for these loaves you simply need to take a bread knife and cut around the loaf to create a cake shape. Finish by slicing through the loaf so you have several circular bread slices to layer the Swedish Sandwich Cake.
The best Swedish Sandwich Cakes showcase a colourful and distinct interior, which can be achieve by selecting loaves with contrasting colours. Why not make a cake with dark brown pumpernickel bread and bright white sourdough?
As long as the bread is soft and easy to slice you’ll be just fine. Avoid thick crusted artisanal loaves as they are hard to slice.
Swedish Sandwich Cake Fillings
Making homemade Smörgåstårta is fun because once you master the assembly and basic recipe you can get creative with your fillings.
Most Swedish Sandwich Cakes always have a layer of egg salad but you can prepare alternative fillings based on the season or your personal taste preferences.
Here are some of the best Swedish Sandwich Cake filling ideas:
- Egg Salad: classic filling featuring hard boiled eggs, mayo, lemon juice and fresh herbs.
- German Ham & Pickle: a tasty filling for meat lovers featuring Black Forest Ham and chopped gherkins.
- Chicken Salad: poultry lovers can prepare a salad with leftover roast chicken, sliced grapes and roasted walnuts or pecans.
- Tuna Fish Salad: classic tuna salad tastes great with shredded cheddar.
- Smoked Salmon: prepare a seafood salad with smoked fish and capers.
- Shrimp Salad: mix finely chopped shrimp with lemon juice, sour cream and dill.
Swedish Sandwich Cake Garnishes
When you’re walking down the aisles of a grocery store in Sweden and spot a stack of Swedish Sandwich Cakes in the fridge you’ll notice the garnishes help inform shoppers on what fillings will be found inside.
The garnishes typically reflect the proteins use in each filling and flavours that will pair well.
- Meat Smorgastarta: garnish with tomatoes, radish, cucumber, sliced charcuterie, olives and cocktail onions.
- Seafood Smorgastarta: garnish with sliced lemon, poached shrimp, twirled smoked salmon and capers
- Vegetarian Smorgastarta: garnish with fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs and sliced cheese.
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When To Serve Swedish Sandwich Cake
While Smorgastarta is often served during Midsommar and through the warm summer months, we love serving this savoury sandwich cake year round.
Our Swedish Sandwich Cake recipe is an eye-catching entree, perfect for celebrating special occasions like birthdays, Mother’s Day, baby showers and bridal showers.
Enjoy 365 days of elevated sandwich satisfaction!
What To Serve With Sandwich Cake
Scandinavian Sandwich Cake is best enjoyed as a slice on its own.
If you’re enjoying the cake for brunch, lunch or dinner, pair a slice with fresh salad or homemade soup. If you’re serving our Swedish Sandwich Cake recipe at a summer barbecue or special celebration like a birthday, it pars nicely with craft beer, fine wine or cocktails.
After dinner why not dazzle your guests with one of our popular desserts such as Oat Flour Cookies with Chocolate Chips, Dark Chocolate Lindt Lindor Cookies, Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes Recipe or Cinnamon Babka For Chocolate Lovers.
How To Store Smörgåstårta
Since Swedish Sandwich Cake is made of mayonnaise and sour cream it can easily melt at warm temperatures. As soon as you finish assembling the cake store it in the fridge to keep cool.
You can store leftover Smorgastarta in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.
How To Make The Best Swedish Sandwich Cake Recipe
Ham & Egg Salad Smörgåstårta Swedish Sandwich Cake
- Palette knife
- Cake plate
- Mixing bowls
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- French knife
- 8 Hard boiled eggs finely chopped
- 2/3 cup Mayonnaise
- 2 Scallions finely chopped
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp Lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp Paprika
German Ham Salad
- 170 g Black Forest Ham finely chopped
- 1 cup Dill pickles finely chopped
- 2 tsp Pickle juice from the jar
- 1/2 cup Mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup Cream cheese
- 1/2 tsp White sugar
- 20 slices Bread
- 1 1/2 cups Cream cheese
- 1 1/4 cups Sour cream
- 1/2 cup Mayonnaise
- 3 tbsp Dill chopped
- 2 tbsp Chives chopped
- 1/2 cup Cucumbers thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup Radishes thinly sliced
- 1/2 Lemon thinly sliced
- 1 cup Cherry tomatoes quartered
- 2 tbsp Capers
- Prepare Egg Salad: In a mixing bowl add chopped hard boiled egg, mayonnaise, scallions, mustard and lemon juice. With a wooden spoon mix ingredients until fulled combined. Keep cold in the fridge until ready to assemble the sandwich cake.
- Prepare German Ham Salad: In a mixing bowl add chopped ham, mayonnaise, pickles, cream cheese and sugar. With a wooden spoon mix ingredients until fulled combined. Keep cold in the fridge until ready to assemble the sandwich cake.
- Prepare Smörgåstårta "Frosting": In a mixing bowl use a wooden spoon to combine cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise and dill. Keep cold in the fridge until ready to assemble the sandwich cake.
- Slice bread loves horizontally to assemble an easy rectangular layered sandwich cake. Cut off the bread crusts and use them to make homemade bread crumbs (we're a no waste kitchen).
- Place the first slice of whole wheat bread on a rectangular serving platter. Spread some of the Smörgåstårta Frosting all over the bread slice.
- Top icing layer with egg salad mixture and spread evenly.
- Add a layer of rye bread and gently press onto egg salad. Top with more Smörgåstårta icing and top with German ham salad.
- Continue alternating whole wheat bread slices and rye bread slices with the two creamy cold salads.
- Once you've added the last bread slice to the top of the sandwich cake, smear with creamy frosting.
- Surround the rim of the cake with quartered cherry tomatoes. Decorate the interior space with thinly sliced lemons, cucumber and radish.
- Use a palette knife to smear the remaining icing on the sides of the cake. Lightly pat finely chopped chives to the sides of the cake. The fresh herbs should stick to the icing.
- Store Smörgåstårta in the fridge until ready to serve. Plate as you would a traditional dessert cake.
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