The weather in London today has been unremittingly grey with continuous drizzle, reminding me of a trip to Savonlinna in Finland, which is also the country which provided us with the biggest northern hemisphere rainstorm of our lives. So here, in homage to Finland and in honour of the poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg’s birthday next week, are Runebergintorttu or Runeberg Cakes.
To be fair on my many Finnish friends and on Savonlinna, which is a truly fabulous festival set in an impossible atmospheric mediaeval castle, it’s drop-dead gorgeous when the sun comes out (which it did the following day). And the Finns have a lot going for them, not least the best rainproof gear I’ve ever bought and also the best loudspeakers on the planet (with all those forests, the Finns really know their wood) and a surprisingly dry sense of humour (opera lovers need to check out Covid fan tutte).
One note on the photos: I don’t have the tall cylindrical moulds that you need to make Runebergintorttu properly, so mine are baked in a standard muffin tin. But they taste the same… If that level of authenticity bothers you, this is the kind of thing that should work.
I started with a recipe from scandikitchen.co.uk and only changed a few things: I couldn’t get hold of Leksands crispbread, but I did find some dark Ryvita which I believe to be pretty similar. I used blackberry jam rather than raspberry. Vanilla essence is easier to find than vanilla sugar in these parts. I didn’t have any amaretto either, so I grated the zest of the orange that made the orange juice and added that. Personally, I think the combination of orange, cardamom and rye turned out to be an absolute winner.
- 125g butter, plus some for greasing
- 50g ground almonds
- 100g plain flour
- 6g (1 tsp) baking powder
- 2g salt
- 50g crispbread (Leksands, Ryvita or whatever), or just use breadcrumbs
- 80g caster sugar
- 1 whole egg plus 1 egg yolk
- 100ml cream
- 50ml orange juice, plus zest of the orange
- Vanilla essence to taste
- 80g icing sugar
- Raspberry jam (or, in my case, blackberry jelly) to finish
- Preheat oven to 180℃ fan.
- If your butter isn’t soft, cut it into small cubes and leave to soften.
- Grease your muffin tin (or other cake mould) with some more butter.
- Mix your flour, baking powder, ground almonds and salt.
- Grind your crispbread into breadcrumbs
- Cream the butter and sugar together
- Add the eggs and mix
- Add the flour mixture and combine
- Add the breadcrumbs and cream and combine
- Add the orange juice, zest and vanilla essence and mix thoroughly. You should now have a fairly thick, sticky batter.
- Divide the batter into the moulds in your cake tin.
- Bake for around 15 minutes.
- Leave to cool in the tin for a short while, then turn them out.
- You will serve the cakes upside down. Since they have probably domed somewhat, cut them reasonably flat so that they stand upright.
- Mix the icing sugar with about 10ml warm water until you have a thick paste. Transfer this to a piping bag.
- Pipe a circle of icing around the top of each cake. Put a dollop of jam into the middle of the circle. I found this easier than the original recipe, which suggests doing the jam first (as per the photos).
- Leave the icing to dry (or don’t bother) and enjoy!