Sunday, May 8, 2011

Swedish food: The Smörgåstårta or The Sandwich Cake

                                                      (image from

It's spring – almost summer – and that means time for Swedes to whip out one of the few foolproof alternatives to herring as a celebratory meal – The Sandwich Cake.

Sandwich cakes look magnificent. They are beautifully crafted with seafood on top. They are colorful and artistic.

For years I have looked on in envy – since there are very few vegetarian sandwich cake options available at celebrations.

But then, about five years ago, my Swedish family decided I was worthy. And they crafted a Sandwich Cake just for me. And thus, these days, I have rather mixed feelings about the Sandwich Cake.
Here is my Sandwich Cake Pluses & Minuses list:


1. I have never met a carbohydrate I didn't like. I admit it, I can live without candy, I can live without chocolate, but I am afraid I might turn to violence if I went on a carb-free diet.

2. They are beautiful – really – I love the craftsmanship put into the sandwich cake.

3. You can use Sandwich Cake to bribe your local police force – one of my favorite weird Swedish news stories: A young trombonist got his trombone stolen. He managed to track it and the thief down and he contacted the police. The policeman said he was very busy at the moment, but might be able to make time to get the trombone in exchange for a Sandwich Cake. The young man bought the cake, got the trombone back, and then got the cop arrested for bribery. The trombonist is one of my personal heros.

4. In theory you can really make any sandwich into a sandwich cake – the sky is the limit! This means there has to be some really good sandwich cakes out there. I just haven't met them yet.


1. Sandwich cake tends to contain a lot of mayonnaise, egg salad, cheese, creme fraiche and seafood or at least one of these items. They are often served during warm events and left outside for long periods of time. Every year there are at least five stories of widespread food poisoning due to sandwich cake at a party. Eat with caution.

2. I'm not a huge fan of white bread, unless it is thick and chewy – Sandwich cake tends to be made with Wonderbread like bread and covered in things like I mentioned above – mayonnaise, egg, cream cheese – it feels like a heart attack waiting to happen. I get that you can make these with whole wheat bread, I just haven't had that version yet.

3. Very few Sandwich cakes are vegetarian – but what can you do?

Feeling eager? Here is a link to a meaty recipe for Sandwich Cake and one for Vegetarian (in Swedish - try google translate). My Swedish family buys these giant slices of bread just for this type of thing, but I'm sure you could just paste together some regular bread slices. 


  1. This by far the least favorite of any food I have ever tried. We were in Sweden for my SIL's confirmation and they had one, what really bothered me was the texture. It was not firm enough for me at all. They also wanted to get one for my July birthday which was thankfully averted with the other favorite Swedish food cookies and cakes.

  2. Oooh, you are right, the consistency is really a bit like glue or something.

    Ah well, I was just so excited to finally have vegetarian smorgastorta of my own..

  3. I am Swedish and I hate smörgåstårta. That makes people very confused and they always say: What will we give you instead? Like there is no other food to eat at special occasions. They also think I'm boring and other stuff. But just because most swedes thinks smörgåstårta is the best food ever, there is at least one (me) that don't eat it. I rather go hungry. You have a fantastic blog, and I enjoy reading it very much. Can I comment in swedish?

  4. Hej Gunilla,

    Tack, Visst kan du kommentera pa svenska. Kul att du lasa.

    As you can see I don't have my Swedish keyboard plugged in, but please do, and maybe I will occasionally try to answer in Swedish, as you might see from this blog my Swedish spelling is terrible and could use some practice :)