Swedish Sandwich Cake (Smörgåstårta) is a beautiful and delicious savoury appetizer made with layers of bread, fillings, and decorated with savoury frosting and vegetables. Stunning centrepiece for any table. It will be a guaranteed show-stopper and a conversation starter! Perfect recipe to serve for Mother’s Day Brunch!!
If you’ve never heard of a Savoury Swedish Sandwich Cake aka Smörgåstårta then you are not alone. It’s something that is not really popular in North America but it should be!
I was very young the first time I made a sandwich cake. There was a recipe in a little cooking brochure that my grandparents got me and we made it in the summer together at our cottage. It wasn’t really Swedish of course but it was delicious, unique, and very easy to make even for an 8-year old.
Next time I made a more traditional Scandinavian version of a Sandwich Cake. You see, they are traditionally called Swedish but in reality they are popular in various nordic countries and the version that I made was from a Finnish blog. I made it for my grandparent. I was in my early 20s.
I forgot about this incredibly easy, yet uniquely impressive recipe until recently. A few months ago my best friend sent me a photo of a similar Sandwich Cake from some newspaper and I couldn’t get it out of my mind. So, here it is. My version of a Swedish Sandwich Cake aka Smörgåstårta with some tips, suggestions, and ideas.
What is a Swedish Sandwich Cake (Smörgåstårta)?
Swedish Sandwich Cake is exactly what it sounds like. Imagine a really big sandwich which is shaped and styled in a form of a cake.
It is usually made with three layers of bread and two different kinds of filling between the layers. It is then covered with some kind of savoury “frosting” to make it look like a cake. It is often decorated with more vegetables or ingredients from the fillings.
How to serve Smörgåstårta
Sandwich Cakes can be round, rectangular, or square. So, depending on their shape, they are sliced just like a cake would be sliced: in wedges, squares, or thin slices.
They are often served with a side salad as a lunch. It’s basically salad and sandwich combo.
They also look absolutely stunning, so Smörgåstårtas are great as a centrepiece on a table and are also great appetizer. These kinds of sandwich cakes need to stay in the fridge for a few hours or even overnight so that all the flavours come together. As such, this is a great recipe to make for a party as it can be made a night in advance.
Ingredients in this Swedish Sandwich Cake recipe
Ingredients include two other recipes but those are very easy and quick to make.
- Sourdough bread loaf, unsliced
- Sardine Rillettes
- Tarragon Egg Salad
- Cream cheese
- Whipping cream
- Vegetables and eggs for decorating
How to assemble Smörgåstårta
Once you have all the fillings ready, you need to make the savoury frosting.
For this particular recipe, I used softened cream cheese, which I mixed with whipped cream, horseradish, and salt.
To assemble this Sandwich Cake:
- Cut of all the crust from the loaf of bread.
- Slice the bread into 3 even layers.
- Place one layer of bread on a serving platter, spread one of the fillings over it.
- Cover with the second bread layer, spread the other filling over it.
- Cover with the final bread layer. Refrigerate (this is optional but helps a bit to make everything stay together and firm up).
- Cover the top and the sides of the cake with the savoury frosting.
- Decorate with vegetables and sliced eggs if desired.
Tip 1: You can see in the video that I used a cake ring to assemble the Sandwich Cake. It is not necessary but if you are able to make the round layers precisely the size of the ring, it will help keep the fillings from falling out.
Tip 2: Add small pieces of parchment paper underneath the first slice of bread. They will help with catching all the frosting later. Once frosted, you just remove the parchment carefully and there’s no mess on the serving platter.
Tip 3: It is easier to spread the fillings onto the bread if they are at room temperature.
Tip 4: It is easier to frost the cake with cold frosting.
Tip 5: It is not necessary but I like putting the cake in the fridge throughout the assembly and frosting process to make sure that everything is set. Especially during frosting. When the frosting is spread over the sides of the sandwich cake at first, it mixes with the filling a little bit. If you are going to cover the sides with some decorations, then it’s not an issue. But if you’d like the sides to be all white, then it’s easier to do if you frost with a thin layer first, then refrigerate to set everything and then cover with the rest of the frosting.
Tips for choosing bread for Smörgåstårta
It took me awhile to find an unsliced round loaf of bread. I’ve been checking out various local grocery stores for weeks and only found it in one place.
I wanted this Sandwich Cake to be round so that was important to me but rectangular or oval loaves are a bit more common so you can use those the same way.
It is important to make sure that the bread is sturdy though. So, you can use different kinds of breads:
- Sourdough (like I used)
- Dark rye (this is the version I made in my 20s and I love it)
- Light rye
- Sturdy Italian (perhaps a few day old one would work better)
- Challah bread should work well
- Brioche if you don’t mind slightly sweet flavour
Do not use regular sandwich bread. It is too soft and will not hold shape and weight of the fillings. It will also get too soft after a few hours (or overnight) in the fridge.
TIP: if you cannot find a whole (unsliced) loaf of bread, then you can use sliced. Just cut out the crusts and use 4 slices per layer to make a square sandwich cake. Or 6 slices per layer to make a rectangular sandwich cake.
Tips for choosing fillings for Swedish Sandwich Cake
Great thing about Smörgåstårtas is that they can be changed up in hundreds of different ways and the recipe can be adapted to suite various tastes and diets.
I like the idea of using two different fillings to make it more fun and interesting but one kind of filling can also be used if it is easier.
It is important to make sure that fillings compliment each other. So, for example, using Sardine Rillettes as one filling and, let’s say, ham salad as another filling might not be a good idea as those two flavours would compete with each other.
Here are some other filling ideas:
- Canned and Smoked Salmone Rillettes
- Smoked Salmon Cheese Ball, use it as a spread instead of a ball
- Tuna Salad
- Ham Salad
- Your favourite egg salad
- Shrimp salad
- Chicken Liver Pâté with Apple and Thyme
Fillings don’t need to be just in spread or salad form. You can use sliced fillings also:
- Slices of ham and cucumbers
- Slices of cheese and boiled egg
- Avocado and smoked salmon
What not to put inside the filling: tomatoes and anything else that is too juicy and will make the bread too soggy.
How to make savoury frosting for Smörgåstårtas
There are many different kinds of savoury frostings that you can use with your Sandwich Cake, they all depend on your taste.
I have seen recipes that use mayonnaise only which I think is a bit too one-dimensional and would make everything soggy so I wouldn’t recommend it.
I suggest making the frosting base with cream cheese as it holds the shape well and usually compliments most of the fillings. To make it a little bit softer you can use, like me, whipped cream or for a slightly healthier version, you can use sour cream or yogurt. You can add chopped herbs, spices like paprika, and lemon juice to flavour the frosting.
Tips for frosting the Sandwich Cake
I like to assemble the cake first and then put it in the fridge to set for an hour or so. This step is optional.
When I frost the Sandwich Cake, I like to do two layers of frosting: frost once, put in the fridge for an hour or two, then frost again. Similar to how real sweet cakes get a “crumb coat” layer of frosting. This step is also optional but it helps with making the cake look pretty.
NOTE: My particular recipe for frosting makes a bit more than this Sandwich Cake would need but the frosting keeps in the fridge for up to a week and it’s a great spread for sandwiches.
How to decorate Swedish Sandwich Cake
Decorating Swedish Sandwich Cake is part of the fun. You can use various vegetables, eggs, herbs, and ingredients from the filling. You can wrap the cake in smoked salmon slices. You can add radish rosettes. You can put sliced cucumber around the edges of the cake. Add sprigs of dill and parsley. Use sliced eggs.
There are tons of ways of making the Sandwich Cake look beautiful and I strongly urge you to google Swedish Sandwich Cake to see how other people decorate it.
For this particular Smörgåstårta recipe I used the following decorations:
- Chives at different lengths for the sides of the cake
- Cucumber ribbons (made with a potato peeler)
- Snow peas
- Fresh shelled peas
- Slices of lemon
- Sliced radishes
- Boiled quail eggs
And I also have a longer video if you’d like to see more steps and more details on how I created this marvellous Swedish Sandwich Cake
Swedish Sandwich Cake (Smörgåstårta)
- 1 package softened cream cheese (250 g)
- 1/4 cup horseradish (more or less to taste)
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- salt (to taste)
Make Savoury Frosting
- In a small bowl, whip 1/4 cup whipping cream with a mixer until soft peaks form.
- In a medium bowl, mix the softened cream cheese with 1/4 cup (if your horseradish is very strong then use only 2 tablespoons) of horseradish and the rest of the whipping cream until soft and fluffy.
- Carefully add the whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture and fold together, making sure not to deflate the whipped cream too much.
Assemble the Sandwich Cake
- Cut off all the crust from the loaf of bread, making sure that you preserve the shape of the loaf. Try to make it as round as possible if it is a round shape or make sure that all the edges are straight if it's a rectangular shape.
- Slice the loaf of bread into 3 bread layers.
- Place the first layer of bread onto a serving platter.
- Optional step: place pieces of parchment paper underneath the bread all around. This will help catch all the frosting that may fall onto a serving platter later.
- Spread Sardine Rilletes filling over it and cover with the second bread layer.
- Spread the Tarragon Egg Salad over the bread and cover with the final layer.
- Optionally: refrigerate for 30-60 minutes to let everything firm up a bit.
Frost and decorate the Sandwich Cake
- Spread the savoury frosting over the top of the cake and the sides of the cake with a cake spatula, making sure that everything is evenly covered and smooth.Note: you may have some leftover frosting. If so, it can be kept in the fridge for up to a week and used for sandwiches.
- Optional step: I like to spread a very thin "crumb layer" of frosting first, then let the cake firm up in the fridge for another hour or two and then add the second (main) layer of frosting. This is an optional step.
- Remove parchment paper from underneath the cake, if it was used.
- Decorate the cake with fresh herbs, vegetables, cooked eggs.
- Refrigerate for 2-3 hours or overnight before serving.