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Verdens Beste: The World’s Best Cake – layers of a buttery sponge cake, meringue, vanilla custard, toasted almonds and raspberries
This post is sponsored by Ancestry
I often get asked what inspires my cakes. To be honest, more often than not, I’m inspired by my own taste buds. I love to create cake flavors that I’m excited about: flavors and texture combinations that I know I personally will love (and hope you will too). Sometimes these flavor combinations are inspired by other types of desserts like cookies, pies or ice cream (i.e. my Tonight Show Cake, my Peach Crisp Cake or my S’mores Cake). Other times my flavor combinations are inspired simply by the idea (and hope) that piecing together different favorite flavors of mine will taste good together (i.e. my Everything but the Kitchen Sink Cake or my Banana Nutella S’mores Cake). No matter where the inspiration comes from or what the creation ends up being, the best part of making a cake is the memories created with it. (Well, that and eating it, of course!).
Like many of you, I grew up baking and cooking in the kitchen with my family. It’s a place that holds some of my dearest memories. Sometimes we were trying new recipes and other times we were making family favorites, like my grandmother’s strawberry jam. The kitchen was always a happy place for me.
Now, in my kitchen, with my own children, I hope to create those same happy memories. I’m excited to teach them how to make recipes my mom taught me, and that her mom taught her, and that my great-grandmother taught my grandmother. I think it’s so fun to hear the stories behind the recipes. I love that through food, I have a connection to the generations before me.
All this brings me to today’s cake. A few weeks ago, Ancestry asked if I would be interested in taking a DNA test and creating a new cake or dessert based on my heritage. Um, yes!
I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I was to do this. My mom is a genealogy guru and has done a lot of family history work for my family. Because of her, I’ve always had a general idea of my heritage, but with AncestryDNA, I was excited to learn even more because they can find your origins in more than 350 regions around the world. They also have two times morethe geographic detail than other DNA tests.
The Ancestry DNA test was so easy to take and send back in. All I had to do was spit into a tube and use the pre-paid box to mail it in. A few weeks later, I had my results. And to be honest, I was really surprised!
I knew I had some Scandinavian in me, but I had no idea how much. Nearly 50%!!! The results show that this is mostly from Central Norway, but matches some Dutch and Swedish heritage as well. I was floored!
I also found out that there’s some Europe West (Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein) and then some Irish and Welsh, and even Portuguese and Spanish influence.
As I read through my results, this fire inside me was sparked and I wanted to know more! My heritage all of a sudden became more real. I’m so eager to learn even more about my heritage.
With nearly 50% of my heritage coming from the Scandinavian region and mostly Central Norway, I knew I wanted this cake to have Norwegian influence. I scoured the internet to learn about Scandinavian desserts. The more I researched, though, the less inspired I became. To be honest, none of the desserts from my line of blood were speaking to me. There’s a lot of pastries and most everything has berries or a berry sauce.
It wasn’t until I came across a cake deemed by Norwegians as “Verdens Beste,” or in English, “The World’s Best Cake.” The name of this cake is Kvæfjordkake, which I’ve tried pronouncing a dozen times but can’t even get close to saying it right, so I’m sticking with World’s Best Cake.
This traditional Norwegian cake is made up of a buttery sponge cake layer with meringue baked right on top. It’s typically made in a half sheet pan and baked together for just 30 minutes. Once baked and cooled, you just cut it in half so you have two rectangular pieces. You then spread some cream or custard on top of one layer and place the second layer on top.
My Take on The World’s Best Cake
The idea of baking meringue on top of the cake was so interesting to me. The combination sounded like an awesome flavor and texture combination. So I had to give it a shot.
I looked at about a dozen recipes for this cake and wrote up my own version based on what I learned. Also, I made a couple changes to the traditional way of making this cake. For starters, I decided to use some almond flour and cinnamon in the cake layers to compliment the almonds that go on top of the meringue.
I wanted to make this like one of my layered cakes, so I baked the layers in three 8-inch cake pans.
For my filling, I made a vanilla custard and used fresh raspberries.
So, how does it taste? Is it the World’s Best Cake?
That’s a pretty lofty title to give any cake, so I’m not sure I could give this cake that title. But I will tell you that this cake is truly incredible. With the buttery, soft cake layers and the crunch of the airy meringue, the flavor and texture combination in this cake are one of my favorite to date.
And heads up! Ancestry is having an awesome summer sale, now through August 20th. DNA tests are currently $59 instead of $99. You can check it all out HERE.
Verdens Beste: The World's Best Cake
Buttery sponge cake layers with meringue baked on top, filled with vanilla custard, almonds and raspberries.
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 30 mins
For the cake:
- 1 cup (226 g) butter
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 4 large egg yolks
- 6 tablespoons (90 g) milk
- 2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (56 g) almond flour
- 3 1/2 teaspoons (3.5 g) baking powder
- 2 teaspoons (8.4 g) vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- 1/2 teaspoon (1.3 g) cinnamon
For the meringue:
- 6 large egg whites
- 1 1/2 cup (300 g) granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup (112.5 g) sliced almonds
For the vanilla custard:
- ¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons (16.4 g) corn starch
- 2 cups (480 g) whole milk
- 1 tsp (4.2 g) vanilla extract or 1/2 vanilla pod
For the whipped cream:
- 1 cup (231 g) heavy whipping cream
For the Buttercream
- 1 cup 2 sticks (226 g) unsalted butter, slightly cold
- 3 cups (375 g) sifted powdered sugar measured and then sifted
- 3 tablespoons (43 g) cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.1 g) pure vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
For the Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray three 8-inch round pans with nonstick spray, line the bottom with parchment paper and spray again. Set aside.
- In a medium sized bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, almond flour, and baking powder. Stir with a whisk to combine. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about two minutes.
- With the mixer on low, add the egg yolks one at a time.
- Alternately add the flour mixture and the milk, starting and finishing with the flour mixture.
- Divide the batter evenly among the pans, about 10 ounces of batter in each of the pans. Spread it out evenly. The batter will be thick and a little sticky. Set aside.
For the Meringue
- In a clean stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment and set to medium speed, beat the egg whites until foamy.
- Add the sugar a little at a time and continue to whisk at medium-high speed until glossy and stiff peaks form.
- Gently spread the meringue over each cake layer and then sprinkle the almonds across the meringue.
- Place the cake pans on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the meringue is dry and lightly golden brown. Remove and set aside to cool for at least an hour.
For the Custard (this step is best done a day or more before assembly of the cake)
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk the sugar and egg yolks. Add the cornstarch and whisk until the mixture is light yellow and a bit thick.
- In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla. Just before the milk begins to boil, remove it from the heat.
- Very slowly, add the milk to the egg mixture, whisking constantly to avoid curdling the eggs. When you’ve combined all the milk with the egg mixture, pour the mixture back into the saucepan and return to the stove.
- Cook the mixture over medium heat until it has thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes. Make sure to stir occasionally.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
- Fold in the whipped cream and store in the refrigerator overnight.
For the Whipped Cream
- Pour the heavy cream in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk the cream on medium-high until stiff peaks form.
- Fold into custard.
For the Vanilla Buttercream
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter for about 2 minutes. This will soften the butter without it having to be warm.
- With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the sifted powdered sugar, one cup at a time, mixing a little in between each addition.
- With mixer on medium speed, add whipping cream, vanilla and salt.
- Turn the mixer to medium-high speed and beat for an additional 5 to 7 minutes. The frosting will become lighter in color and texture.
- Before spreading on your cake, spend a couple minutes mixing the buttercream by hand with a wooden spoon to push out the air pockets.ASSEMBLY
- When the cake has cooled, carefully tilt the cake out onto the palm of your hand and peel off the parchment paper.
- Place the first cake layer on a cake board or your cake stand.
- Spread about 1 cup of custard over the first layer. Sprinkle with fresh raspberries. The meringue will have sunk in the middle a bit but will hopefully have left a rim around the edge of your cake to hold in the custard. If not, pipe a rim of the buttercream around the edge to hold in the custard.
- Repeat with the second cake layer and another cup of custard and some raspberries.
- Place the final cake layer, meringue side up, on top of the filling.
- Freeze the cake for 10 to 15 minutes to set the filling.
- Lightly frost the outside of the cake with the vanilla buttercream. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- Serve with remaining custard and berries.