In May I spent three weeks in Copenhagen. It was surprisingly sunny, even warm (I say this as I had a suitcase full of woolen clothing and a raincoat). Unsurprisingly, my Danish did not improve despite daily one-on-one lessons from a bilingual four year old (though I did learn rather more than I wanted to about Frozen). I did decode some language mysteries - for instance, that the V is always dropped in words like havn, or Torvehallerne (my favourite food haunt, so therefore something I said a lot). I spent time with so many impressive English speakers, canoed on the harbour (havn!), and ate my fill of cinnamon buns and smørrebrød and sausages. Back in Sydney, in grey midwinter, it all feels a bit like a dream, which makes this cake all the more appropriate. With its cornerstone ingredients of sponge and coconut, drømmekage, or "dream cake" in Danish, is - to Australians anyway - a bit like a caramel lamington. Here, the coconut is tangled in brown sugar and butter (rather than chocolate) and crowns the cake rather than coating it. This makes it infinitely easier to whip up spontaneously for afternoon tea or school lunch boxes - a tray bake, essentially. I can't think where the coconut came from - it's certainly not a traditional Scandinavian ingredient. I can only imagine this cake - a staple of supermarkets - was conceived as a way to conjure up a tropical island in the darker winter months. So serve with cream and coffee and dream of summer. Or in my case, Scandinavia.
Danish dream cake (drømmekage)
Adapted from SBS Food
This worked just as well for me by making two thirds of the mixture (get out your calculators!) and baking in a square 20 x 20cm cake tin.
cake115g unsalted butter, chopped
185 ml (¾ cup) milk
185 g caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
185 g (1¼ cups) flour
1½ tsp baking powder
double cream or crème fraîche, to serve
150 g unsalted butter, chopped
150 g unsalted butter, chopped
250 g (1 cup firmly packed) brown sugar
60 ml (¼ cup) milk
200 g shredded coconut
Place butter and milk in a small saucepan over low heat and cook until butter is melted. Set aside. Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs for 8 minutes or until very thick and pale. Add vanilla seeds and ½ teaspoon of salt and beat for a further 2 minutes or until combined.
Sift flour and baking powder together. Using a spatula, fold flour and butter mixtures through egg mixture until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 22 minutes or until a skewer inserted into centre of cake comes out clean.
Meanwhile, to make coconut topping, place butter, brown sugar and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, add coconut and simmer for 1 minute or until thickened. Remove from heat.
Increase oven to 210°C. Spoon coconut topping evenly over cake. Return pan to oven and bake for a further 5 minutes or until top is golden brown and crisp. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Turn out cake onto a serving platter and serve with double cream or crème fraîche.