September 09, 2011


Today I turn 30. It's a nice round number don't you think? I am expecting much more authority and credibility with this age, but lets face it... 30 really isn't that old, now is it ;-)

The last year of my 20's has certainly been one of the most memorable years so far. We travelled to Japan and Finland, I had a career change, we got engaged and now we are one major step closer to owning a new home (keep those fingers crossed!). Needless to say I have high expectations for my first year of the 30's too, but since I am highly superstitious, I won't jinx anything just yet...

As celebrating my birthday goes, some of you may have seen on Twitter that I turned down an offer to dine at Sydney's famous Tetsuya's restaurant. Why? Because I can think of a million better ways to use that money, and I really prefer something much lower key. It's a rainy day here in Sydney too - looks like Mother Nature decided to remind me that I am indeed an Autumn baby, not a Spring baby like the Australian calendar is trying to make me believe :-)

So I decided to make myself a tradition Nordic cake for the day. Voileipäkakku or smörgåstårta (literally sandwich cake) is often served at Christenings, birthdays and pretty much at any celebrations across the Nordic countries. The cake can be layered with a variety of savoury fillings, but I've made it vegetarian and introduced some new flavours in the way of sun-dried tomatoes and tzatziki. I've kept the traditionally heavy cake (which uses mayonnaise and cream in the filling) light by using wholemeal bread, Greek yoghurt and light ricotta. There are a few steps in preparing this cake, but I think it makes it all the more satisfying and special.

And PS. Don't worry, there will be another sweet birthday treat to follow later this weekend ;-)

Wish you all a great weekend ahead!

(serves 4-6)
1 loaf of bread (I used this one)
1/4 lemon, juiced

500g pot-set Greek yoghurt, drained for at least half an hour

50 g semi-dried tomatoes
1 small red capsicum (bell pepper)
freshly ground black pepper

15cm piece cucumber
tiny piece of fresh garlic
freshly ground black pepper
tiny pinch of salt
tiny dash of white wine vinegar

200g smooth ricotta (cream cheese or other with similar consistency)
zest of one lemon
lettuce and fresh herbs for decoration

* you need to start this recipe at least one day ahead.

1. Start by draining the yoghurt and grating and draining the cucumber.

2. There will be two different fillings to this cake. For the first filling, mix half of the drained yoghurt with finely diced capsicum and chopped semi-dried tomatoes. Season the mixture with freshly ground black pepper and set aside.

3. For the second filling, mix the rest of the drained yoghurt with grated and drained cucumber and grated garlic. Season the mixture with a small dash of white wine vinegar, freshly ground black pepper and a small pinch of salt. Set aside.

4. Cut the loaf lengthwise into 4 layers. Cut the crusts out. Place the first layer on a large flat dish and brush the layer with lemon juice-water mixture (about 1/4 part lemon juice to 3/4 parts water). Alternatively you can use vegetable stock or milk for this. 

5. Spread half of the tomato-capsicum filling evenly on the first layer. Place a second layer of bread on top and brush it with lemon-water. 

6. Spread half of the tzatziki mixture on the second layer and top again with bread. Brush with lemon-water. Continue with third and forth layers leaving the final piece of bread (crusts removed) on top. Brush that too with lemon-water. 

7. Cover the cake with cling wrap. Place a tray and a small weight on top of the cake and refrigerate over-night.

8. The next day, remove the cling wrap, spread lemon flavoured ricotta evenly on top of the cake and decorate it with fresh herbs, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, etc. Slice up and enjoy!

Alternative fillings:

smoked salmon, trout or gravlax and fish roe
meat (ham)

Instead of ricotta you could use cream cheese, soft goat cheese, even mascarpone would probably work. Just remember to keep it savoury, that's the whole point of this cake! You could use traditional mixture of mayonnaise and cream with the filling of your choice. You could also make this using shop-bought bread (of course), but I think it's much more satisfying to make completely from scratch.