February is THE month to eat Runeberg’s Torte. But to be honest, the whole January and February are an open window and also an excuse to make these unique delicious little pastries. Never heard of Runeberg’s Torte before? It’s a special kind of pastry in Finland which 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 January and February time, you’re most likely to spot these wonderful pastries in shops & cafes. For the authentic feeling, go enjoy these in the Porvoo Old town.
Disclaimer: this post includes affiliate links*, meaning that I get a commission if you choose to make a purchase through the given links. Read full disclosure here.
“The Porvoo Cake”
Food culture & national heroes. To sum things up, the history of the precious cake takes us to a small city of Porvoo. Runeberg’s Torte is named after a Finnish-Swedish national poet J.L Runeberg, but 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 Fredrika herself decorated these with apple jam instead of raspberry jam. (Between you and me, raspberry is so much better choice. Trust me.)
The pastry cake Finns bake these days 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 it’s 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 in muffin tins too, for instance. Personally I prefer a lower cake as oppose to traditional really tall cylinders because this way I can have more toppings hehe.
I’ve often baked Runeberg’s pastries based on a recipe from 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. The texture gets better after a night in the fridge and the flavors strengthen.
Runeberg’s Torte | Recipe
My cake ring cylinders are 5cm x 6cm but you can easily prepare these in muffin tins, too. There Ateco Round Cake Ring and Dessert Molds 3.125 x 3-Inches)* are similar but a tad bigger. If you don’t have hollow cake cylinders yet, I recommend getting them because they are super versatile in pastry making. A small investment to have more fun in the kitchen.
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.
1,25dl water 1 tbsp sugar 0,5 dl rum (+ a hunch)
Boil water and sugar in a small saucepan. Add rum to simmer. Taste if the liquid mix is strong enough for your liking. Add a hunch more if you’re unsure but bear in mind how much bitter almond extract you used in the batter. Set the liquid aside to cool completely.
Prepare sugar frosting by mixing confectioners sugar (1dl) with a small amount of cold water in a teacup. Add water a few drops at the time.
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 gives more even look than top-down push technique). Check the bottoms of the tortes, too. If they look too dark, scrape those bits away.
Soak the pastries one by one in rum water. Place the torte top down into the liquid for 2 seconds, turn it on one side, and roll quickly 360 degrees. Set aside on a plate bottom down. Do not soak the bottom 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.
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 box of these to the office.
Officially Runeberg’s Tortes are enjoyed on the 5th of February but to be honest, January and whole 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 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!
Looking for more recipes to bake with leftovers? One of my favorite topics, too! Have a look at these delicious bakings 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