Top 100 Cake Blog

Top 100 Cake Blog

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Isn't it Good Norwegian Cake

Right after college, I was a newspaper reporter in Stoughton, Wisconsin, a town so proud of its Norwegian heritage that street signs were in both English and Norwegian, and Syttende Mai (May 17, Norwegian independence day) celebrations trumped July 4th.

But even though I frequented (almost daily) the two bakeries on Main Street, right around the corner from the Courier-Hub office, I had never heard of this cake until I found this tattered recipe in one of my collections.  Which is too bad, because it is fantastic.  So good, that for the convenience of my readers, and in hopes that some of you will bake this, I not only scanned the recipe but typed it, as well.

It's simple to make and, yes the eggs and butter to flour ratio is decadent and probably responsible for the cake's full name: Norwegian Gold (or Golden) Cake. The method to make this -- incorporating the butter into the flour directly -- was developed in the 1940s, but I'm happy to report still works fine today.  The key is having the butter soft enough.

While you're making this, you'll think that it won't work, for the batter doesn't come together well when the eggs are added.  But do as I did and keep going.  You'll be glad you did.

The batter only fills the pan to about 1/3, but don't worry, it will rise!
The cake has two textures, the crunchy almost caramelized exterior and the rich smooth interior, which boasts a fine crumb and excellent deep flavor.  This is so worth the effort and calories.
I brought my cake to the ladies of the Home Planning Workshop at Henry Street Settlement -- this is a tough crowd of scratch bakers -- and they heartily approved. And then invited me to their Thanksgiving dinner next week.  Enough said.

I had forgotten about the kind of paper this is typed on, parchment-like, nearly translucent
with a very visible watermark.  Today's white paper is so boring in comparison.

Norwegian Gold Cake
1 cup soft butter
5 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

Allow butter to become soft, but do not melt.  Place butter and flour in mixing bowl.  Beat 5 min. at low speed.  Add eggs, one at a time, blending each egg at slow speed.  Sift together sugar, baking powder and salt.  Add graduatl to creamed mixture.  Add extract.  Mix 2 min. after all sugar has been added.  Turn into 10" tube pan that has been greased with 2 tbsp. butter and then sprinkled with fine bread crumbs. [Note: I used Crisco instead of butter and flour instead of bread crumbs.]  Bake 1 hour in 325 degree oven.  Invert to cool [when I did this, the cake fell out of the pan, so let it cool about five minutes, then invert on to rack and then cool.]  Sprinkle top with confectioners' sugar.

A bit of googling revealed that Stoughten still celebrates Syttende Mai in a big way.  Below are the prince and princess and king and queen of the 2010 festivities.


  1. Are you sure those aren't Glauberman family portraits? This cake looks and sounds unbelievably good. Steve just made something called 'Elvis' Favorite Whipped Cream Pound Cake' but this looks even more decadent!

  2. I made this tonight in two loaf pans instead of the tube. It is delicious!

  3. I have a rich Norwegian heritage and am constantly on the lookout for new recipes. Thank you so much for finding this and posting it!

  4. @Margaret: Could be, but don't recall that we had those costumes handy. And of course, my cakes will always be more decadent than Steve's!
    @Peggy: Glad to hear it!
    Melissa: I always use unsalted butter, but I suppose if you reduced the salt in the recipe salted butter would work fine.
    @Anonymous: Thanks for finding me!

  5. Thanks so much. I just made this cake tonight using whole wheat cake flour from Blue Bird Mill, unsalted butter, and super fine sugar. You could not be more correct, worth every calorie! Those ladies will invite you to every holiday dinner from now on. Thanks so much. BERMD

  6. I will make this cake for the holidays. The appearance of it reminds me of David Lebovitz's marzipan cake. It looks very simple but is also worth all of the calories. Now I will read about your zuchinni disaster...

  7. @BERMD: Sorry for the delayed response, but so glad you made this cake, and even happier that it is still worth the calories using whole wheat flour.
    @Anonymous: I'll have to check out his marzipan cake. I adore David -- even took a food walking tour in Paris with him. Very informative! And I don't think you'll regret making this cake;it's truly delicious.

  8. I halved this recipe, baked it in a loaf pan, and brought it with me to New York as a thank you for my Brooklyn hostess (I'm visiting from Ohio!) The cake is so light and delicious; perfect for breakfast! I substituted a finely ground panko and almond mixture (on hand for another recipe) for the breadcrumbs or flour and was thrilled with the result. As a sweet lover, I considered making a light glaze, but I think the cake's spongy texture would probably be overwhelmed by anything additional.

    1. kkal: Thanks for writing! Good to know about the loaf pan option. And you sound like the perfect house guest, bringing such a delicious cake with you from so far away. Hope your trip was a good one. (Of course, I love the Ohio-Brooklyn connection.)

  9. If I wanted to make this for a birthday cake, what type of frosting would taste good on this? I don't like chocolate...


    1. GG: This truly doesn't need any frosting, but a caramel frosting would be nice. Or perhaps a lemon glaze or frosting, and you can decorate it with some strawberries and candles.

  10. Settled on this cake because I wanted something that wasn't fussy to make and didn't involve filling or frosting made from dairy (the butter in the cake itself is fine, and delicious.) It's fantastic but I can't wait to make it again in sour cherry season; I might try mixing cherries in or making some kind of cherry glaze. We had it tonight with a bit of lemon curd and the tartness was delightful, but cherries and almond flavor go naturally together.

    I did have one weird issue--the butter sat out all day long softening, since I live in an old home in Buffalo, NY and it's quite cold here. It did finally get soft enough, but I guess my bowl was chilly from sitting out in my kitchen, so as I was scraping the sides of the bowl to get the batter into the pan, I realized some of the butter had re-hardened and stuck to the sides! I scraped it all out anyway, and it doesn't seem to have done much damage; there were a few little smears of butter on that had settled to the bottom but once I turned the cake out of the pan I just scraped them away with a spoon. I may set my mixing bowl over a heating vent for 30 seconds before mixing next time, I guess!

  11. Looking forward to compare to Nigella's easy almond cake, which also contains marzipan.

  12. I made this cake today! What a lovely crumb and crisp outer crust. I used a Bundt pan and it worked just fine, just in case anyone else wanted to try it. Full disclosure: I forgot to cream the flour with the butter and did the sugar instead. Worked just fine...probably would try the cake again the "correct" way just to see if the difference is noticeable.

  13. Hi Susan. I love your blog. Is the flour in the Norwegian Cake all-purpose or cake flour?