Saturday, August 27, 2011

Lagkage (Danish Layer Cake)

It's my birthday and I can bake if I want to, bake if I want to, bake if I want to...
OK so that's not the right words to the song, but it's how I feel.     And I did bake. 
Danish Lagkage with Strawberries

My birthday also happened to fall on Boat Club Monday as well.   How fortuitous was that?    Not only did I get to bake, but I was also able to share it with friends without having to have them over and having to clean house first.   Just kidding.  As you may have surmised by now, I like having people over, and quite frankly look at any excuse to have company in.  
Lagkage (Danish Layer Cake)

This cake is the one my Mom would make for us for our birthdays and also other special occasions.    A Danish Layer Cake in all of its whipped cream and custard glory.    Not too sweet, not too rich, just right.   My favorite version of the cake was when Mom made it with apricots for the filling, but it's also very traditional to have a very thin layer of Raspberry preserves in there as well.  You can also put a thin layer of Marzipan between each layer and also around the outside.   But I'm going to keep it simple and just make the version I like.  

To begin with you need to bake the layers, (if I was in Denmark I could just go and pick these up already baked)   They are called Lagekagebund, you can even find them in good Scandinavian deli's in the US.   I was going to use a recipe I found in my mother's handwriting, written on the back of a receipt dated from the 1920's, so I knew it was a good one, but part of it was obscured by a greasespot, (which is how I knew it must have been one she'd used), but then decided to go through her other recipes, and got totally confused.  She had over a dozen written down, and each one was just a little different.    I got curious at this point and I decided to do some research on Lagkage's (Layer Cakes) in some of the old cookbooks I have.   And found that there are so many variations of the recipe for a layer cake base as to totally dumfound and astound me.   One recipe book has recipes for an 'everyday' layer cake, plus versions for special occasions, eight different recipes in all.   They all hinge on a couple of simple practices.   Beat the eggs and sugar until they are white in color, and the sugar has totally dissolved within the eggs.   Then add the flour/potato starch gradually, beating between each addition.   (and at this point, you will be very grateful for modern conveniences like electric beaters or Kitchenaid Mixers trust me on this one).   

Some of the recipes call for just beating the egg yolks with the sugar and folding in beaten egg whites alternating them with the flour/cornstarch/potato starch.   A couple of recipes add butter, and there are all kinds of suggestions for baking pans.   It got a little on the confusing side to be honest.    However, I persevered and made the cake and it was good.    The only thing that would have made it better is more custard between the layers and actually making it the night before so that the whipping cream could have soaked into the cake a little better.  
I also did some research on line as well, and that's when I got really confused.  Just kidding, but there were as many variations out there as there were in my cookbooks.

Begin by measuring your sugar,and eggs into a mixing bowl, turn it on and let it go.

Check it from time to time, you want the sugar to be totally dissolved into the eggs.   Scrape down the sides while you're checking, that way you don't get any stray sugar grains in there.   You'll be able to see the egg/sugar mixture becoming whiter and whiter, the more it mixes.
Sift the flour/potato starch and baking powder together.    Set aside while you create your totally fun baking pans.  
While this is going on you'll need to get out your parchment paper.  We can have fun here.    Draw a circle on the paper, following the outline of an 8 inch plate.    Make three of these.   (of course if you have three baking pans the same size you can skip this step, just grease them very lightly and flour them to release the cake)
Now add the flour/potato starch mixture, a little at a time.   Mix well.
Then spoon on a third of the batter into the circles you drew on the parchment paper, spreading it out to the edges of the circles.
Bake in a warm oven, for about 8-10 minutes, just until they're a light golden brown.  (I forgot to take pictures at this point).  As soon as you pull them out of the oven, put on a cooling rack for just a few minutes, let the cool, then stack them on a plate, keeping them on the parchment paper, and cover with plastic wrap.
Open a couple cans of Apricots in Heavy syrup, drain, reserving the syrup. 

Make the custard that's going to go in the layers, while the cakes are cooling a little. 
Custard made with Birds Custard Powder
I always have Bird's Custard powder on hand, you can find it in some supermarkets or at your local World Market.
Place the first layer of cake on a serving platter, I flipped mine over, cut the parchment in half, then placed the parchment directly on the cake plate.

One of the layers with custard on top

Dribble or brush some of the reserved apricot syrup over the cake layer, then glop the warm custard directly onto the cake.  Spread it out and place the first layer of Apricots directly on the custard.
Custard and Apricots on one layer

Custard and Apricots on one layer and the top
Top with the next cake, and repeat the process, brushing it with the Apricot syrup, then the custard, and finally the apricots.
Assembling the Lagkage

Assembling the Lagkage

Assembling the Lagkage
(it looks so good).
Finally brush the top layer with some more of the reserved Apricot syrup.
Assembling the Lagkage
See the syrup glistening?

Assembling the Lagkage
Didn't get it real even, but I can fix that.
Whip up a pint or so of heavy whipping cream, and sweeten with about a tablespoon of sugar if desired.
And frost the cake with the whipping cream, making sure you get it into all the crevices.   Place in fridge for a few hours at this point.  This cake actually tastes better if you make it in the morning, and leave it in the fridge all day.   Of course, anything left over the next morning is even better, giggle.
Lagkage (Danish Layer Cake)
Lagkage (Danish Layer Cake)
I cut and ate the first slice, it was my birthday cake, after all.   And I have to say it was very good.

yield: 8-12 servingsprint recipe

Lagkage (Danish Layer Cake)

prep time: 30 MINScook time: 15 MINStotal time: 45 mins
This is a traditional cake served mostly for birthdays and special occasions in Denmark. There are as many variations of this as there are cooks, but all agree that fruit and custard are in the middle and real whipping cream are on the top.


  • 1 cup sugar, extra fine granulated
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
Topping and filling
  • 1 pint heavy cream, whipped with 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1-2 cups prepared Custard
  • 2 cans Apricot halved in heavy syrup, drained and the syrup reserved


  1. Preheat oven to about 350 deg. and prepare the parchment baking sheets. Trace a circle around an 8 inch plate onto the parchment paper, and set aside. Mix the sugar and eggs together using your mixer until the sugar has dissolved into the eggs, and it is a whitish color. Sift together the flour, potato starch and baking powder. Then add the flour mixture into the egg and sugar mixture a little at a time, making sure it's well mixed. When it is all incorporated, divide the batter into thirds. Spread the batter onto each parchment circle. Bake only about 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on wire rack, leaving paper on the cakes. Stack and cover tightly while you're making the custard. Follow the directions on the tin of Bird's custard powder or make your own from scratch. Open and drain two tins of Apricots in Heavy syrup, reserving the liquid. You'll use this as a kind of simple syrup for spreading over each layer of cake, before you layer the custard and apricots. Place the first cake layer on a serving plate. At this point I remove the parchment paper, cut it in half and keep it under the cake, you can pull it out just before serving. Helps to keep the edge of the cake plate clean. Sprinkle, or brush about 1/4-1/2 cup of syrup on the first layer, take about half the custard, spread it around, then arrange the contents of one can of apricots on the custard, top with the second cake layer, repeat the process, then finish it off with the last layer. Brush this layer with some of the syrup and set aside while you whip up a pint of heavy whipping cream. You can sweeten the whipping cream if you like, but it's not necessary. Frost the cake using the whipping cream and place in the fridge for several hours. This tastes best if prepared in the morning and allowed to sit until you serve it in the evening. I like it best the next day, but don't always have fridge space to allow that.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Lagkage (Danish Layer Cake)

Serve and enjoy.  

Sidsel Munkholm - Author
Sidsel Munkholm - Author

Sid loves to cook, feed people and have fun in the kitchen. She shares her successes and the involuntary offerings she sometimes gives the kitchen goddess as well. And she's still looking for the mythical fairy to help her clean the kitchen after a marathon cooking session. Currently working on a cookbook showcasing the recipes from her Danish heritage.


  1. What a wonderful Cake and you certainly can Bake if you want too:) I would love to try a big piece! Lynn @ Turnips 2 Tangerines

    1. It is a great cake, and in fact I think it's almost time to make it again. I usually bake my own birthday cake, mainly cause there aren't a lot of Danish bakeries around. But this is one of my favourite cakes.


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