Monday, October 11, 2010

When I grow up I'm going to eat cake for breakfast!

Actually, I do eat cake for breakfast.  But I always make sure I have a large piece or two of cheese as a side dish.

No, that is not a pregnancy thing, this is something that was agreed upon with my mother when my sister and I were younger - we could have a piece of cake for breakfast as long as we had something with calcium in it.  Or something.  So a piece of cheese and a glass of milk were somehow decided as enough "good" food to counteract the sugar we were happily stuffing into our little faces.  (Despite this, I've only had one cavity.)

I think the poor woman was just glad we'd eat something.  My sister and I were amazingly picky eaters and very difficult to get off to school.  We liked learning, but we hated that we needed to do it so early in the morning.

Anyway, I am now an adult so I *could* leave the cheese out.  But I love cheese and eat it with everything.  If it's not part of whatever I'm eating then I have it on the side.  Cheese is an especially good side "dish" when you are eating something very sweet.  Like pie.  Or, as in this case, cake.

The cake I made over the weekend was Carrot Cake.  I love carrot cake.  I do not understand why Danes insist on having layer cake (not what you are thinking people who do not live in DK, I'll explain later) for birthdays when there is carrot cake in the world.  My first wedding cake was carrot cake.  It was marvelously good.  For my second time at bat the altar I went with layer cake because 1) you are not going to get a good non-layer cake in DK and 2) always get the best cake you can have wherever you are.

(Number one is slightly incorrect, I've had some good homemade cakes from a few proper domestic goddesses who were Danish, so it can happen.  However, only one of them has made a wedding cake before and it was such a trial she swore she'd never do it again.  I don't blame her.)

So what is a Danish layer cake?  Well first you go to the store and buy these cheap thin sponge cakes, usually three come in a pack.  You also buy whipped cream in a spray can, strawberries and bananas (no matter what season it is - buy frozen if you must), butter and coco powder.

***If I ever have to make this cake, I am going to make it from scratch.  There is no call for the use of the nasty pre-made plasticky sponge rounds that they call "kage."  I understand that there are some childhood loves that defy reason as you age - like my deep and abiding love for Kraft Mac n' Cheese, despite it's horribleness - but honestly, this is a crime against nature.  (With any luck I will never have to make a layer cake from scratch.  Sponge cake is a nightmare.)***

You melt butter with some coco power to make a chocolate glaze.  Some sugar may be involved but I'm not always sure.  Cut up strawberries and bananas.  Now assemble thus: one round of sponge cake, pour a bit of chocolate glaze over it.  Layer of strawberries and bananas. Next round of sponge cake.  More chocolate glaze, fruit, and final layer of sponge cake.  More coco glaze.  Now use whipped cream to coat the side so you can't see the layers and for any decoration you may wish on the top.

Nine times out of ten it's as bland as boiled rice.  That last special time is probably when the cake has been made from scratch with fresh ingredients.  Then it's actually really good and you wonder why you keep getting stuck going to birthday parties with sub-standard layer cakes.  This is a mystery of the universe.  You will never receive the answer.  A word to the wise - do not ask your Danish host/hostess for cheese to eat along side your layer cake, they get weird about it.  But if you have layer cake sitting in your fridge, eat a slice of cheddar with it.  It will make it all so much better.

So back to my carrot cake with cream cheese frosting (see, sometimes you CAN put cheese on cake).  I had a variety of recipes to choose from and so I took a little from here and a little from there.  I am thrilled with the cake, but the frosting was WAY too sweet and I cut the sugar significantly.  I'll probably also up the amount of cream cheese because I like my cream cheese frosting to be, well, cream cheese frosting, duh.  But for your sake I give you the recipe as I made it.  Danish equivalents in parentheses.


  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) vegetable oil (rapsolie worked fine)
  • 2 cups (475 ml) white sugar 
  • 2 tsps (10 ml) vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (475 ml) all purpose flour
  • 2 tsps (10 ml) baking soda (bicarbonate or natron, I believe it is in Danish)
  • 2 tsps (10 ml) baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) salt
  • 1 1/2 tsps (7.5 ml) ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) ground ginger
  • 3 generous cups (700 to 900 ml is fine) of grated carrots
  • 1 cup (250 ml) chopped pecans or walnuts if you wish
For frosting
  • 1/2 cup (118 g) butter, softened
  • 8 ounces (225 g) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups (475 ml) powdered sugar* 
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (250 ml) chopped pecans or walnuts if you wish
*Originally the recipe asked for 4 cups, I used 3.  I suggest you start with 1 cup (250 ml) and work your way up as needed.  Just so you know, Jamie Oliver's recipe uses one cup, which is why I make this suggestion.  Somewhere there is a middle ground.

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C).  Grease and flour a 9x13 pan (22 cm x 33 cm? I don't know the measurements of pans in DK - I just go by looks, call me shallow, and my pan looked like a 9x13).
  2. In a large bowl beat together eggs, oil, white sugar and 2 tsps (10 ml) vanilla extract.  Mix in flour. baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger.  Stir in carrots.  Fold in nuts if using.  Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.*  Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.**
  4. To make frosting: In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar and 1 tsp (5 ml) of vanilla extract.  Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy.  Frost the cooled cake.  Sprinkle with nuts if using.
*The more carrot you add, the more liquid the cake and thus the longer it will take to bake.  Mine took just over 50 minutes.  
**I lack wire racks and I don't have a plate big enough to hold a sheet cake.  I usually ignore this part of any recipe unless I'm making an American style layer cake and need to cut the cake in half to make 2 equal sized layers.  Because I don't have two pans of any shape that are the same size.


  1. Anonymous7:25 PM

    I may layer cake from scratch at my kid's birthday. Husband made me. I prefer the "fysnk" tradition of having brunsviger as a birthday cake, but hubby's a preppy boy from nord Sjælland, so he got to decide. It was fun though. I made each layer a new color with food coloring, so that each slice was a rainbow of cake filled with canned peaches, bananas, strawberries and cream. It was a bit over the top, weighed about 10 lbs but it was goooood. Am still making brunsviger next time though. Cause that's even better.

  2. You must know the wrong kind of Danes. ;)

    Where I grew up, every respectable home would serve at least 3 different home-made cakes for coffee...and none of that store-bought sponge-cake stuff, thank you very much.

    And yeah, carrot cake with cream cheese icing...yum, yum, yum... (I use mascarpone).

    Jennie: ohhh brunsviger from Fyn, I remember that little place in Odense that made the best brunsviger when I was a student. Of course in western Jutland a brunsviger is called a "kanelkage", so there was some confusion at the beginning. We eat it as birthday cake here as well, though.

  3. I must say my favorite cake is good old chocolate cake with homemade chocolate frosting. You must have a gigantic glass of ice cold milk with the one--or two--pieces you inhale. Oh so good. I will also eat cheese with anything, although the closest I've come with cake is cream cheese frosting. And don't get me started on cream cheese! God, I love that stuff.

  4. Anonymous9:32 AM

    Eating cheese or drinking a glass of milk after consuming something sugary actually reduces the acid in your mouth, thus lessening your chance of getting cavities. :)

  5. @ Jennie - do you have a good layer cake recipe that works for people-who-live-in-Denmark-and-have-to-shop-at-Netto? I will no longer allow the tyranny of the MIL in the kitchen and yet if I don't make a layer cake for my husbands Bday then she does and I am stuck eating it for politeness sake.

    @ May, I have long suspected that I know the wrong kind of Danes. Alas, they are family, so it's not like I'll be able to rid myself of them any time soon. Oh and thanks for translating brunsviger from fynsk to jysk! There was confusion here as well!

    @ Anonymous - And there we go! I'll make sure to tell my husband this next time he does the eyebrow arch.

  6. Anonymous1:47 PM

    Sorry it took me a while to get back, but the recipe I used was this.

    I did, at one point, add some flour to the mix, but there were no preferences. They turned out well, either way. And I thought it was so easy to just "draw" the circle on the baking paper, instead of having to use a springform.


Keep it clean, don't be mean....