Birthdays are a funny thing. They can be bittersweet for some like Mr NQN who never liked them owing to receiving somewhat strange presents growing up. If he had his way, he wouldn't even celebrate it. Not for me however. A birthday is an excuse for cake and any occasion that calls for cake is a good thing. And what comes with every birthday is presents and a dinner so for the food obsessed (moi) it is a great excuse to have a weekend long party. And this upcoming weekend is my birthday, something that thrills me to no end, even if those around me remain bewildered by my happy dances (I'm looking at you Mr NQN ;) ).
I know there are some out there that just don't sweets. I'm not one of them and I suspect if I tried to tell you that you'd probably all laugh quite loudly as my predilection for cakes and sweet is rather obviously catalogued in this blog. For some though, a piece of sweet cake isn't quite as enticing as a savoury one and for them I offer this recipe, an alternative cake which you can make large, and is more often made large for gatherings.
I do feel a distinct affinity with Nordic countries as Mr NQN is half Finn and visiting Finland last year was a real treat. The food was a real eye opener - lots of gorgeous seafood including crayfish as well as exotic things like wild boar, reindeer and bear. They do open face sandwiches which are great if you eat low carb. The bread is used as a vehicle for transporting the toppings never overwhelming them or making the sandwich too dry. Combine that with the delicious spreads on top and a nice topping and you've got a delicious lunch (albeit a touch calorific but it's all about having a good time not a long time right? ;) ).
I don't really do repeat recipes on the blog but the first time I did was so many moons ago that I thought it was time for a revival as it was not only delicious rather kitsch too - a combination I find rather irresistible. Don't be scared with the amount of ingredients, it is really making a sandwich and you can substitute or remove the fillings and dips or spreads that you use according to taste. The earlier one I made was for a friend that didn't like fish so I made it a smoked meats sandwich cake and it went down a treat. It can also be made ahead of time particularly if you use thicker bread like rye which can soak up the dips. And the main motivation for having this as a birthday cake is to fulfil a birthday wish to have cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
So tell me Dear Reader, do you eat a low carb diet or is that you idea of torture? ;)
Swedish Sandwich Cake
Makes 4 individual cakes
16 slices of bread
200gram container smoked trout dip (or your favourite dip)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 slices Jarlsberg cheese
16 slices ham
4 large slices smoked salmon
1 bunch radishes, washed and thinly sliced
2 cherry tomatoes
1 lebanese cucumber
Pomegranate seeds for decoration (I used Royal Pom pomegranates)
You will also need a round cookie cutter and a vegetable peeler
_Pac man in cheese! _
Step 1 - Use cookie cutter to cut out circles from bread. Cut out circles from Jarlsberg cheese, ham and smoked salmon (and eat the rest of course-chef's treat! ;) ). Spread one layer with mayonnaise and then place a piece of cheese on it. Place another round of bread on top of this and spread it with mayonnaise and then place 2 circles of ham on it. Then top with another round of bread and spread this with mayonnaise and then place a circle of smoked salmon on it. Then top with the fourth round of bread.
See, it doesn't have to be particularly neat ;)
Step 2 - Now spread some of the dip on and around the sandwich tower. It's like icing a cake but you don't have to get the sides as perfect as you'll be wrapping the cucumber strips around them. Take the cucumber and a vegetable peeler and peel some strips lengthwise down the cucumber. You'll discard the first 2 or 3 strips as they will be just the skin and they'll be too small. Then using the dip as an adhesive, wrap the cucumber strips around the cake.
Step 3 - Cut the cherry tomato in half-I did it using a zig zag pattern with a small, sharp knife. Then fan radish discs around the outside of the top of the cake and place cherry tomato in the centre. Then place pomegranate seeds around tomato-you might wonder if I had lost my mind when suggesting this when you get to your 6th pomegranate seed so please feel free to leave these off if it feels all too fiddly.