Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ann's August Cake: Orange Lagkage

One of my favorite cakes in the world is lagkage (pronounced lao-kay-eh), a very common sight in Danish bakeries. During my year as an exchange student it was perhaps just as common to see me hovering around bakery windows admiring lagkager and planning my next lagkage experience. Even though it just means "layer cake", nearly all of the lagkager I ate had the same basic elements - cake, fruit, custard, and whipped cream - but this is probably just because I preferred those cakes and picked them over less exciting versions. I recall that many also had marzipan, too. Despite their intense layers, they always seemed somewhat more informal than typical layer cakes I grew up eating, maybe because the sides were often unfrosted and the layers exposed. Those cakes hold a special place in my heart in for a few reasons: they were the instigators for my first "cafe culture" experiences, in which my best friend and I lingered for hours over slices of cake and tea cups of hot chocolate, and I always felt more inclined to practice my Danish skills when I knew that a delicious piece of cake would be mine if I spoke well (and I know I did despite the lame waitress who insisted on speaking English to me no matter how many times I responded back in Danish).

A typical lagkage - but not one I made

So, in honor of those happy afternoons, I wanted to make an awesome lagkage this month. I found a recipe in Nigella Lawson's Feast that reminded me of the correct structure, so I paired that with an old cookbook my dad got me called Wonderful Wonderful Danish Cooking. I also kind of just worked off my own memories to create the cake I wanted.

Well....it didn't really work. That's not to say that the cake wasn't excellent, but it didn't taste at all like lagkage. The Nigella recipe included what I had thought would be a custard layer, but turned out to just be a buttercream using custard powder. I had really wanted the custard element in the cake since that may have been my favorite part, but oh well.

After I made the cake layers, I split them and layered each with orange marmalade, mandarin orange segments, and whipped cream.

After a couple layers like that, I spread the wannabe (in my mind) custard, and then followed with two more sets of orange/cream layers. I smoothed the top to look oh so pretty (thank you, offset spatula):

Then I decorated the top with orange segments and my lagkage was done! It was much taller than one I'd ever had in Denmark, though.

My friend Janelle and I negotiate the cake.

It was a good thing it was so big, since I served this at a Relief Society party. The best tactic for the cake was to dive right in:

I liked this cake, even though it wasn't really correct. I love orange and cream pairings, and the sponge cake was nicely flavored, and there was tons for everyone! Cake success.

Appelsin Lagkage (Orange Layer Cake)
adapted from Feast by Nigella Lawson and Wonderful Wonderful Danish Cooking by Ingeborg Dahl Jensen

1 1 /2 cups flour
3 tablespoons Bird's custard powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 eggs
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cups superfine sugar (or regular sugar blitzed in food processor)
2-3 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and line two 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper.

Put all the ingredients except the milk into a food processor. Process into a smooth batter, then add the milk a tablespoon at a time to make a soft dropping consistency. Divide between the prepared pans and bake for 20 minutes. It will have puffed up because of the cornstarch in the custard powder.

Remove from oven, place on cooling rack for 5 minutes, then turn them out, peel off parchment paper, and cool completely.

Buttercream Custard Filling:
1 cup powdered sugar
4 teaspoons Bird's custard powder
3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons boiling water

Process the powdered sugar and custard powder to remove any lumps, add the butter, and process. Feed the water down the funnel with the motor running until buttercream comes together.

1/2 pint whipping cream (or more...I can't remember now)
Orange marmalade
Canned mandarin oranges

Whip cream to desired consistency. When the cakes have cooled, split each cake into two layers. Place on layer on cake plate, spread with marmalade and arrange a layer of orange segments. Top with 1/3 of the whipped cream and spread to cover entire layer. Top with another cake layer. Spread buttercream on top. Add another cake layer, then repeat layers of marmalade, oranges, and cream. Top with remaining cake layer, then spread with remaining whipped cream. Smooth top with an offset spatula, and decorate with mandarin orange segments.


Elizabeth said...

This looks SO yummy. Awesome job!

I can understand your disappointment that it wasn't a true custard -- I think I can picture what you were shooting for and it would be hard to have something that's more like a buttercream! Still, it looks marvelous, and I'm glad it tasted good.

I Am An Automaton said...

Oh man that sounds so good!! You need to start baking more when you come to AZ!

DeskSet said...

This blog is dead to me. I can't eat the contents any more. Boo!

ferskner said...

DEAD TO YOU?!?!? NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!