Snapshots from Sweden: Spettekaka from Fricks Spettkaksbageri
From June 5 to June 11, I visited Western and Southern Sweden on a trip sponsored by Visit Sweden, West Sweden Tourist Board, Skåne Tourist Board, and Volvo as part of their CAR + VACATION contest. Here's a look at something I ate during my trip.
The name of the traditional Swedish cake spettekaka translates to "spit/skewer cake," named so for how the cake is made: Thin lines of batter are pipped in densely webbed layers onto conical molds on a rotating spit. Although the name may not sound like anything special, the end result is impressive.
At least, if you're getting a spettekaka from Fricks Spettkaksbageri in Sweden's southernmost county, Skåne, where the EU has given the cake Protected Geographical Indication status. (A Google image search shows a variety of spettekaka, from towering cakes fit for a wedding, to humbler ones that are a bit more...gloppy.)
According to Fricks' website, spit-baked cakes in Sweden date back to the 1600s, and the first recorded recipe was found in Susanna Egerin's cookbook from 1733. Fricks has a long history as well, having been making spettekaker since 1918 using the same recipe of eggs, sugar, potato flour, and wheat flour.
Anna Frick, who shares her name with her great grandmother, the founder of the bakery, is in charge of making other desserts and managing the cafe, while her grandfather and uncle bake the spettekaka of various sizes—from small ones that fit in the palm of your hand to towering, baby-sized ones. It takes about two-and-a-half hours to bake the cakes in spit-equipped electric ovens; you can see more photos of how the cakes are made at Fricks' Facebook page.
The cake is usually eaten plain with coffee—nothing complicated—although Anna likes to come up with different ways to serve it. She gave my boyfriend and me our first taste of spettekaka accompanied by a sauce of crème fraiche, raspberry sauce, and lime zest and juice, making for a good tart and creamy foil to the sweet, crunchy, meringue-like cake. (If you've ever eaten these little ball-shaped potato starch-based Asian cookies, the flavor is a bit like that.)
Because the hollow cake is so fragile and feather-light, a typical knife won't do; Anna uses a thin hacksaw blade for a clean cut.
As for mixing flavor into the spettekaka batter, Anna says they've experimented without success (or in her words, "We had pear and something else, and...no. No. Someone else can try that"). To get different flavors, it's best to work with the sauce.
Although Fricks isn't the only place in Skåne that makes spettekaka, I doubt any other place can boast as serene and beautiful of a setting to eat it in: a lush, explosively green garden featuring themed rooms, ceramic sculptures, a fish pond, and over a hundred kinds of roses. Anna's grandmother designed and painted the different rooms mostly for her own enjoyment, but they've certainly come in handy for attracting tourists to Billinge, a tiny locality surrounded by farmland.
Some of the roses are used to make sweetened rose "juice" concentrate that can be made into drinks. Anna gave us a taste of it simply mixed with water (she also said that older customers love it mixed with gin); the rose flavor was pleasantly subtle, not like the potpourri-punch you sometimes get with rosewater-flavored foods.
The garden and cafe are only open from Easter to September—it wouldn't be much fun to sit in a cold, barren garden in the winter—but Fricks make spettekaka all year round (the cakes are popular at Christmas, in the summer, for weddings, and for graduation parties). Check their Facebook page or blog for the latest info.
Fricks Spettkaksbageri och Trädgårdscafé
* While writing this post I kept thinking "Fricks" could use an apostrophe...and then I found out that Swedish doesn't use apostrophes for genetives. Aaand there's your Swedish grammar lesson for the day.