Home » Sweet » Traditional Runeberg’s Torte | Recipe

Traditional Runeberg’s Torte | Recipe

by Saara

February is THE month to eat Runeberg’s Torte. But to be honest, the whole of January and February are an open window to bake and enjoy these decadent pastries. And if you have an excuse to make these unique, delicious little treats already in December, I don’t blame you.

Ever heard of Runeberg’s Torte before? It’s a special kind of pastry in Finland that dates back to the kitchen realms of the mid-1800s. If you’re a fan of cardamom, you will love these.

Imagine a rich, almond-based tender cake moistened with liqueur & finally decorated with raspberry jam & sugar frosting. Did I already mention cardamom?

Runeberg’s Torte has a unique & distinctive appearance. If you’re visiting Finland anywhere in January and February, you’re most likely to spot these wonderful pastries in shops & cafes. For the authentic feeling, go enjoy these in the Old town of the city of Porvoo.

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“The Porvoo Cake”

Food culture & national heroes. To sum things up, the history of the precious cake takes us to the small city of Porvoo. Runeberg’s Torte is named after a Finnish-Swedish national poet J.L Runeberg. However, it was his wife Fredrika who made them famous already during their lifetime. The pastry, however, has its roots in the hands of a baker L.H. Astenius.

Commercial baking soda was invented in the 1840s. I can only imagine the tricks Baker Astenius had in his pockets to succeed in making cylinder-shaped tall cakes. No original photos exist to my knowledge. The story goes that the poet’s wife herself decorated these with apple jam instead of raspberry jam. (Between you and me, raspberry is so much better choice. Trust me.)

Today’s Runberg’s Torte is an evolved & elevated version of the torte enjoyed in the past. To me, the mentality of Runeberg’s Torte has always been to work with what you have in your pantry. Most importantly, breadcrumbs. But that’s not all.

This is the perfect way to get rid of the last Christmas cookies, whether speculaas or another type of spicy winter cookie. Use them in the batter instead of breadcrumbs.

How we bake Runeberg’s Torte today?

The tradition lives strong & Runeberg’s Torte has seen many versions from modern raw cakes to swiss rolls and whatnot. My ring cylinders, for example, are 5cm x 6cm and represent a shorter version of the pastry.

You can easily prepare these pastries in muffin tins too, for instance. Personally, I prefer to bake a lower cake instead of using a traditional tall cylinder because I can have more toppings, hehehe.

I’ve often baked Runeberg’s pastries based on a recipe from blogger Kinuskikissa. She is the Finnish baking Queen & I trust her recipes. Also, her blog well showcases the creative freedom with Runeberg’s Torte: she has 8 different versions of this pastry and counting!

This is not a direct adaption or translation from Kinuskikissa’s recipe as I used rum instead of punch & replaced gingerbread with breadcrumbs. The recipe below gave me 7 pastries with the aforementioned cylinders.

It’s a good idea to prepare the pastries a day in advance. After a night in the fridge, the texture improves, and the flavors strengthen.

Runeberg’s Torte | Recipe

My cake ring cylinders are 5cm x 6cm but you can easily prepare these pastries in muffin tins, too. There Ateco Round Cake Ring and Dessert Molds 3.125 x 3-Inches)* are similar but a tad bigger than my molds.

If you don’t have hollow cake cylinders yet in your baking arsenal, I recommend investing in them because they are super versatile in pastry making. They don’t take too much space in the kitchen yet give you more freedom to play with recipes.

Runebergs Cake

Runeberg's Torte | My Vintage Cooking

Print recipe
Makes/Serves: 5-8 people Cooking time:
Nutrition facts: 200 calories 20 grams fat

INGREDIENTS

INGREDIENTS

THE CAKE

  • 125g butter (room temperature)
  • 140g granulated sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 100ml cream
  • ¼ tsp of bitter almond extract
  • 38g breadcrumbs (crushed gingerbread or a mix of the two)
  • 48g fine almond flour
  • 25g crushed almonds
  • 140g wheat flour
  • 2 tsp cardamon (+ a hunch)
  • 0,5 tbsp vanilla sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder

 

RUM WATER

  • 125ml water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 50ml rum, punch, or similar liqueur

 

DECORATING

  • quality raspberry jam
  • confectioner's sugar + water for frosting

METHOD

METHOD

  1. Grease your tins or muffin molds with a little bit of  butter and add a touch of breadcrumbs. If using open ring tins, prepare a baking tray with parchment paper. Pre-heat oven 200°C | 390°F (without fan).
  2. Measure and mix all dry ingredients. Cream the butter and sugar by hand or with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add one egg at a time into the butter batter and beware of curdling. Finally, mix and fold the dry ingredients into the batter by alternating with the almond extract spiced cream.
  3. Spoon the batter into the baking tins leaving 1,5 cm (0.6 inches) from the ring edge. The batter surface does not have to be smooth because the top of the torte is cut off when baked.
  4. Bake tortes on the middle rack for 20 minutes (do not overbake). When using ring tins, carefully remove the tins when the tortes are hot. Mittens or holders are advised. Let the pastries cool before soaking and decorating them. 
  5. Prepare the rum water. Boil water and sugar in a small saucepan. Add rum to simmer. Taste if the liquid mix is strong enough to your liking. Add a hunch more liqueur if you're unsure but bear in mind how much bitter almond you used in the batter. Set the liquid aside to cool completely before soaking the tortes.
  6. Soak the pastries one by one in rum water. Place the torte top down into the liquid for 2 seconds, then turn it on one side, and roll 360 degrees as quickly as you can. Set the torte aside on a separate plate bottom down. Do not soak the bottom of the pastry as the rum water will now run through the whole body of the pastry. 
  7. Store the soaked tortes in the fridge.
  8. Decorate the tortes just before serving with raspberry jam and sugar frosting.

 

 

NOTES

Instead of rum, you can use punch or another type of sweet liqueur. For a non-alcoholic version, sweetened lemon & pomegranate water is wonderful. The decorated tortes are to be stored in a fridge in an airtight box for a few days.

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Decorating Runeberg’s Torte

Whilst the tortes are resting on a cooling rack, you can prepare the rum water and sugar frosting. Choose quality jam or marmalade for the raspberry kiss. The jam I used has 75% of raspberry consistency.

Rum water | Ingredients

  • 125ml water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 50ml rum, punch or similar liqueur

Boil water and sugar in a small saucepan. Add rum to simmer. Taste if the liquid mix is strong enough to your liking. Add a hunch more liqueur if you’re unsure but bear in mind how much bitter almond you used in the batter. Set the liquid aside to cool completely before soaking the tortes.

Sugar Frosting

In a teacup, prepare sugar frosting by mixing confectioners sugar (100ml) with a small amount of cold water. Add water a few drops at a time until you find the right consistency. Set up your piping bag ready for icing. Do not cut the mouth too wide to better manage the frosting’s appearance.

Runebergs Torte dipped in Rum Water

Soaked Runeber’s Tortes before decorations

Cutting and soaking the pastries

Once the pastries and rum water are both cooled to room temperature, you can finish the cakes in no time. Carefully cut off the tops of tortes with a sharp knife. Rolling the knife around the pastry gives a more even look than the top-down push technique. Check the bottoms of the tortes, too. If they look too dark, scrape those burned bits away.

Soak the pastries one by one in rum water. Place the torte top down into the liquid for 2 seconds, then turn it on one side, and roll 360 degrees as quickly as you can. Set the torte aside on a separate plate bottom down.

Do not soak the bottom of the pastry as the rum water will now run through the whole body of the pastry. Again, you can set the pastries in the fridge if making them a day ahead before serving.

Again, you can bake and soak the tortes a day ahead before serving. Store the cakes in the fridge and decorate them just before serving.

Finally, the toppings for serving Runeberg’s Torte

Above all, these tortes are quick to serve. Place a spoonful of raspberry jam in the top middle. Pipe frosting sugar around the raspberry kiss & the torte is done! Invite friends over & or take a Torte Box to the office.

Officially Runeberg’s Tortes are enjoyed on the 5th of February but to be honest, January and the whole of February are an open window and an excuse to prepare these.

Fun fact! Fredrika’s original recipe from the 1800s was found in 2004. The staff from the home museum of Runeberg found it when dusting the bookshelves for the poet’s 200 years of celebrations. The original torte was based on shortcrust and requires a complex baking process. I can’t say I wouldn’t be intrigued to try it, maybe next year in addition to mini tortes!

Love, Saara

I hope you enjoy the recipe and this Finnish pastry tradition! Do let me know if you bake some :)

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Looking for more recipes to make the best of leftovers? One of my favorite topics, too! Have a look at these delicious recipes with vintage vibes:

Gluten-free potato almond cake

Soft bread rolls with juice pulp

No-knead potato breakfast rolls w/ sourdough

Apple Cake for Two w/ breadcrumbs

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2

Cheryl Whetham 2021-12-11 - 11:37 PM

Hei Saara, I just made the Runeberg’s Torttu and noticed your recipe does not mention when to add the almond extract or the cream. Just thought you might want to know. FYI. I baked it in 8“ x 3.75“ bread pan as I am making it like a rum cake.

Reply
Saara 2021-12-12 - 10:19 AM

Hi Cheryl! So nice to hear and a big Runeberg’s cake will look amazing :)

Thanks for noticing and letting me know! The almond extract spiced cream is added at the same time when the dry ingredients are folded into the batter. I corrected this into the recipe :)

Saara

Reply

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