Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Swedish Prinsesstarta (Princess Cake)

Korena of Korena in the Kitchen was our May Daring Bakers’ host and she delighted us with a beautiful Swedish Prinsesstarta.  And what a challenge: layers of sponge cake, jam, and pastry cream, all topped by a dome of whipped cream and covered in marzipan.  Sounds amazing, right?

I was really excited when I found that the cookbook I’d just borrowed from our digital library, Miette: Recipes from San Francisco’s Most Charming Pastry Shop, highlighted the cake…until I reached the end of Meg Ray’s introduction where she called it “famously complicated,”  and wrote that she  “[doesn’t] recommend you start with this cake; perhaps think of it as a potential goal once you have completed other cakes.  This will be your crowning achievement” (32).

Gulp.  So I Googled it, and the difficulty showed.  Double gulp.

While I didn’t follow things exactly– in our budget conscious household, making a full-sized cake primarily of components we don’t usually eat (sponge-cake: too eggy, and pastry cream: I seem to be the only person on the planet who doesn’t like it) didn’t seem the way to go– I was able to create three miniature versions.

And I’ve got to say, I’m pretty proud of how they turned out.  Instead of sponge cake, I chose and adapted the “Essential Yellow Cake” recipe from Dede Wilson’s Wedding Cakes You Can Make (62).  I split the batter between cupcakes for the princess cakes and a 10 1/2 x 17 1/2 jelly roll pan for some petit fours.  And instead of the pastry cream, I opted for lemon curd with a little bit of (don’t laugh) Cool Whip to cut the tartness.  I also opted to mix more lemon curd with more Cool Whip for the whipped cream– it allowed for the stiffness and sturdiness needed to create the domed shape needed for shaping the marzipan.

Swedish Prinsesstarta (Princess Cake) Petit Fours

*Note: The amounts below make only 3 Prinsesstarta petit fours.  I’ve included the Essential Yellow Cake recipe at the end of this post.  If you ever want to give this a go, feel free to adapt the amounts and much as you want.


3 yellow cupcakes

2 tbsp. blackberry jam, divided

3  tbsp. lemon curd, divided

1/2 cup + 1 tbsp. Cool Whip, divided

5 oz. marzipan

1 drop green food coloring


Slice the rounded part off of the top of the cupcake. Discard it, eat it, give it to the kids.

Slice the remaining cupcake into thirds.

Turn the cupcakes upside down, so the larger part is on the bottom.  Divide the blackberry jam into thirds, and spread each third over the cupcake.

Place the next layer of cake on top of the jam.

Mix together 1 tbsp of lemon curd

with 1 tbsp. of Cool Whip.

Spread the mixture on top of the cake layers.

Top each with the final layer of cake, of which I forgot to take a picture.

Mix together the remaining 1/2 cup of Cool Whip

with the remaining 2 tbsp. of lemon curd

until it’s well combined and stiff.

Divide the mixture into thirds and spoon each third over the top of each cake.

Using a spoon, shaped the whipped cream into a dome.

Spread it all around the cake in a thin layer.  It doesn’t have to be neat or perfect,

but the more you use, the better.

It also helps by acting as a sort of glue to bind the cake layers together.

At this point, it was getting late, so I wrapped them lightly with plastic wrap and put them in the refrigerator overnight.  If you want to keep making them the same day, I’d say to refrigerate them for at least thirty minutes.  The Cool Whip is stable and it doesn’t sweat like whipped cream.  If you choose to use real whipped cream, you may want to look up different ways to stabilize it so that it doesn’t weep.

A few days ago, I mixed the marzipan with a drop of green food coloring, and I kneaded it all together in a plastic sandwich bag.  I do actually have pictures of those steps, but they were taken with the point-and-shoot, and I haven’t downloaded them as of yet, so if I ever get around to it– I’ll share them then.

Whenever you are ready, though, roll your marzipan out into a thin layer.

Having never worked with marzipan before, I watched a lot of how-to videos.  Most of them showed competent people rolling it out over powdered sugar.

This did not work for me.  It was very sticky and as a very sticky substance, it stuck everywhere.  It was not pretty.  Use waxed paper instead, and save yourself the mess.

Layer the waxed paper on the counter, then the marzipan on the waxed paper,

and then roll it out.  Yeah, I know.  I’m not good at rolling out pie dough, either.

Remove the cakes from the refrigerator, placing them someplace easy to work.  I put mine on a turn table one at a time.

Carefully remove the waxed paper, and then cut and peel off enough marzipan to layer one cake.

My first pass was too thick,

and since I determined that I am among those who do not enjoy marzipan, I opted to go thinner.  So I re-rolled that portion…three times.  It kept sticking and tearing.  Sigh.

Eventually, I got it.  And once you get it, drape it carefully over the cake.

Trim it,

and fold it under the cake.

You may decorate it however you wish.  Traditionally, the Prinsesstarta seems to be coated in green-tinted marzipan, wrapped with a ribbon, and topped with a rose of some sort–probably marzipan.

I had a  very little bit of ribbon (only enough to almost go around 2 of the cakes)in my scrapbooking bin,

and I also happened to have to flower scrapbooking embellishments that matched.  I don’t know what I’d have done if I had to try my had at a marzipan rose at this point.  Sculpture is not my strong suit– this is why I choose to draw, write, and take photographs.

Overall, not too shabby.

It was fun to make–well, maybe not so much the rolling of the marzipan, but everything else was fun.

I didn’t have enough ribbon for this one.

I like the way they turned out.  And the inside is pretty impressive when cut open.

With the exception of the marzipan, the cake itself with the blackberry jam, lemon curd, and lemon cream was perfection.  The flavors melded together well with the tart and sweet playing nicely together.

I don’t know that I would make this particular type of cake again, but I will certainly use the yellow cake recipe with this flavor combination– maybe frosted in a lemon buttercream.

Thanks so much to Korena for a great challenge this month!

Essential Yellow Cake

adapted  from Dede Wilson’s Wedding Cakes You Can Make, used for making jelly roll style cake + 9 cupcakes; will make 2-9 inch round cakes as is


3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tbsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

16 tbsp. (1 cup or 2 sticks) butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. amaretto (or vanilla)

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup milk, room temperature


In a medium bowl (or large measuring cup), combine the flour, baking powder (it seems like a lot, but it really is the right amount), and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and the sugar for 4-5 minutes

until it is very, very  light and fluffy.

Add the amaretto (or vanilla extract), and mix some more.

Then add the eggs one at a time, thoroughly incorporating each egg before adding another.  It really does make a difference.

Then, in batches, add the flour

and the milk, starting and ending with the flour.

When I added the last batch of flour, I turned the mixer off and stirred that batch in by hand.  It keeps the cake from getting tough.

To bake the cake in the sheet pan, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees F.  I poured the batter into the greased and parchment lined pan until the pan was half full, and I smoothed the batter with a bent spatula.

I baked it for approximately 12 minutes, let it cool in the pan and them removed it too a towel to finish cooling.

To bake the remaining batter as cupcakes, I filled 9 liners in a muffin tin approximately 2/3 full with batter.

I baked them for approximately 17 minutes. I immediately removed them from the tin to a cooling rack and let them come to room temperature before attempting to make the Swedish Prinsesstarta petit fours.


Ray, Meg. “Princess Cake.” Miette: Recipes from San Francisco’s Most Charming Pastry Shop. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2011. 31-35. E-Book.

Wilson, Dede. “Essential Yellow Cake.” Wedding Cakes You Can Make: Designing, Baking, and Decorating the Perfect Wedding Cake. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley Publishing, 2005. 61-63. Print.



16 responses to “Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Swedish Prinsesstarta (Princess Cake)

  1. Your mini versions are so cute! I love the paper flowers – the colours set of the photo nicely. :]

  2. These are really, really cute! I love your lemon version – I’ve been dreaming of a lemon curd prinsesstårta myself. Thanks for baking along with me this month 🙂

  3. This is beautiful and looks very tasty!

  4. Loved all the components and that scrapbook flower embellishment was indeed a neat idea!!

  5. WOW! They look so adorable and pretty! The layers when cut look so neat and perfect! Well done you!

  6. These look amazing! I love the flavor combinations too! I sat out this month’s challenge due to other commitments, and boy do I regret it!

  7. Aw, these are gorgeous looking and there size makes them absolutely adorable. My cake ended up being XL because I didn’t have a smaller sping form. It was big enough to feed a whole princess court 🙂
    The cookbook you mentioned sounds really interesting too. I should google it up.

  8. You did a great job! I dislike egg smell in baked goods and desserts too! I too made a small cake with the vegetarian egg free version of everything the recipe asked! Just got the post up yesterday, will expand on recipes and details soon – do stop by for recipes:)

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