Monday, 11 July 2011

Finnish Sour Cream Cake with Spices and Berries - Guest Post with Notes of a Foodie

I'm really excited about this - Frederike from Notes of a Foodie is one of the first bloggers I really connected with. In fact I wish she lived nearer so we could meet up and exchange slices of cake and soup recipes over a morning coffee...or a cocktail...Frederike, over to you!

There’s a first time for everything.’ A quote one hears quite often, and might have lost some of its charm because of it. But it’s still as true as it has always been.

A dear friend once gave me a postcard with the quote ‘Today is the first day of the rest of your life’ written on it, which is standing on my desk to this day.

Those two quotes together explain why I have the honour of writing a guest post for Ruth’s lovely blog. This is the (short) story:

March 2011 was the month I finally had the guts to start my own food-blog, instead of just reading lots of them every day and dreaming about creating my own. Why March? The postcard was staring at me. I was (sort of/trying to) studying behind my desk, I read the quote, and realized I might as well start writing that very moment because the ‘scary’ part wouldn’t ever go away anyway. This brings me back to the first quote, ‘a first time’. First times are exciting, scary, memorable and are often not as hard as we thought they would be. No, they are often not even close to being as hard as we thought they would be. They actually tend to be fun! So I closed my book and started Notes of a Foodie.

That start gave me new things and opportunities. It gives me more ‘first times’.

Ruth and I started our blogs around the same time and I’ve been reading and enjoying her posts from the beginning. Ruth gave me the opportunity for another ‘first time’ - writing my first guest post. Mostly exciting and only just a little bit scary. But like I said, there’s always a first time for everything. Thank you Ruth for giving it to me!

Besides a love for food and cooking, Ruth and I have another love in common:  a love of Scandinavia. Combine the two and you get Scandinavian food! So I thought it would make perfect sense to share one of my favourite Scandinavian recipes, one that also suits this time of the year.

This spiced sour cream cake has its roots in Finland, but the taste reminds me of the Swedish kitchen too. Especially because of the cinnamon and cardamom spice combination.  Those scents always remind me of the bullar (cinnamon rolls) my Swedish aunt bakes.

I know spiced cakes are usually more of a ‘winter bake’. But it’s the sour cream and the berries which turn it into something light and summery. The contrast of the ‘warm’ spices and the ‘fresh’ berries makes the berries taste even more fresh and juicy, and the sour cream makes sure the cake doesn’t become too sweet.

Talking about the sweetness; the cake does contain a fair amount of sugar, I’m not going to deny the 200g the recipe asks you to add. But it doesn’t taste very sweet. Don’t forget most berries taste a little sour instead of sweet (except strawberries), and the sour cream won’t make it sweet either.
I often serve this bake with some fresh berries on the side. The cake itself is simple and basic, and is delicious on its own (even without the berries and almonds on top), but I like to give it a little extra -and for me the combination of the spices and the sour berries just work.

Like most cake recipes, as long as you stick to the butter/egg/flour/baking powder quantities, you can play with ‘the final tough’. I tried out a few different things, and will give some examples below the recipe to give you an idea.

Not that it’s absolutely necessary, but to make the whole experience complete, bring this cake with you for a picnic next to a wide and empty lake.  My family and I used to dive in to the water, lie in the sun on the rocks until we were dry and wait for my aunt to open the basket with the home made bakes. Maybe that’s why I like Scandinavian bakes so much, they bring those childhood memories back to me…

Finnish Sour Cream Cake with Spices and Berries (Kermakakku)

400g self-raising flour
1½  teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons vanilla sugar
150g unsalted butter, melted
200g caster sugar
3 large eggs, preferably organic/free-range
250 ml sour cream
200g blueberries
50g flaked almonds

Grease the sides of a 24cm diameter cake tin with butter and dust with a little bit of flour. In a big bowl, mix the self-raising flour with the cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and vanilla.

In another big bowl, whisk the sugar with the three eggs until light and creamy.  Whisk in the melted butter, and next, mix in half of the flour- and spice mixture.

Make sure you keep the batter light by continuing to whisk, but make sure you don’t over stir it. When it’s mixed, it’s mixed, and it doesn’t matter if it’s still a bit lumpy, the oven will fix that for you.

Next mix the sour cream into the batter, and finally, mix in the rest of the flour and spice mixture. Pour the batter into the tin and smooth it with a spatula. Sprinkle with the blueberries, and push them into the batter a little, then sprinkle the flaked almonds on top.

Bake in the preheated oven for about an hour (could be 55 minutes, could be an hour and 5 minutes), start checking if it’s done after 50 minutes by putting a skewer into the dough. Count to three, if the skewer comes out dry, it’s done, if it’s sticky, give the cake 5 more minutes and check again.

Serve with fresh berries, whipped cream, or both!

  • Use raspberries or blackberries, or a combination of berries to sprinkle over the cake before it goes into the oven. I personally don’t like to use strawberries because I think they are too sweet, but that’s up to you!
  • Instead of the three different spices, only use cinnamon (2 ½ teaspoon).
  • Use more berries and mix them into the cake (not too many, otherwise the cake will be too wet).
  • Stir the zest of an orange into the batter and use blackberries on top.
  • Sprinkle with pine-nuts instead of flaked almonds.
  • Use 225g of sugar instead of 200g if you have a very sweet tooth.


Thanks so much Frederike! I know what I'll be baking this weekend!


  1. This cake looks fantastic.

  2. Nice photos! That cook sounds delish with all the spices in it as well.

  3. wonderful flavoured cake looking moist and tempting
    do visit for indian recipes and follow

  4. Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe. Really good photo's

  5. I love how you mentioned that you would to meet up in the morning for cake and some coffee/cocktails! :)
    I love this recipe from your guest post!! I'm a huge fan of using sour cream for dessert, and this looks delish! :)

  6. oh my gosh - this cake looks INCREDIBLE!

  7. What a beautiful cake! Love your photos too :-)

  8. The cake looks amazing and your photos are stellar! Congratulations on starting your blog...I can't wait to visit!

  9. Wow, this looks amazing and very delicious!!!

  10. I never been to the Scandinavia... and I wonder why people are so happy there. I had tried a few Scandinavian recipes during the years, I think I sort of get a little gist/picture of a Scandinavian life. This recipe is definitely speaks out Scandinavian to me. Simple ingredients, mild spices, and rustic outcome! A definite treat!

  11. what a lovely way to admire a fellow foodie... congrats on starting the food blog, I for one, LOVE what you're doing... xx

  12. This sounds really deliicous! I made a sour cream cake a few months ago and loved it. Looks like I'll be trying this version sometime!

  13. What fantastic photos and flavour combinations!
    Sour cream is a real winner in turning out cakes with a soft texture.

  14. Gorgeous photography - this must pair so wonderfully with coffee or tea. Thank you for this delightful recipe!

  15. This looks wonderful. As I think I've mentioned I love Scandinavian baking (it's the cardamom!) and I also have some sour cream that needs using. I know what I'll be baking this weekend as well. Thanks Ruth and Frederike!

  16. What a lovely guest post - this cake looks wonderful and I can't wait to try it!

  17. So wonderful to read all these comments - It feels kind of weird to write it since it's not my blog, but thank you all!

  18. This is such a beautiful cake!! I love scandinavian food as well. The sweetness level always seems perfect. Gorgeous dish!

  19. What a wonderful cake! My daughter and I love Scandinavian foods ... our older Swedish relatives have all passed and we regret not getting recipes and foodlore from them when they were still with us. This is a throwback to a cake that my husband's Aunt Hilda made ... thank you for posting!

  20. What a gorgeous cake! Looks so delicious! :)

  21. This is such a glorious cake- I love the combination of the sour cream, the cinnamon, cardamom and tart berries. I've just come across your lovely blog and off to excitedly explore the rest of it now!

  22. This looks really nice - these sort of cakes are really popular here in Iceland as well
    and I love how simple and classic they are :)

  23. What a beautiful cake! I love those berries!

  24. Oooo... A great cake recipe! I love cakes like this, and I agree with you they are great for any time of the year!

  25. First time here and loved the way you wrote this post. There is always a first time...that's very should have the guts to do something on his/her own! Even I started my blog in April and am still in the learning process, enjoying the experience thoroughly.
    The Finnish cake is extraordinary...bookmarking this.

  26. Absolutely delicious, I love the texture of the cake.

  27. I have a cherished post card that reads: "Live like your hair's on fire." Kind of the same philosophy. I'm glad you shared this wonderful and beautiful recipe. Thank you.

  28. Hi Ruth,
    This cake looks absolutely delicious.I m a huge lover of sour cream and with spices & berries- wow.what amazing flavors!YUM!
    Thanks for stopping by

  29. lovely cake and great guest post always nice to meet new food bloggers

  30. I do love the simplicity of Finnish cakes! This is very similar to the buttermilk cake which is also delicious. Berries are the perfect accompanion!

  31. This really is a lovely cake. Berries are perfect to serve with it. Your photos are lovely and the recipe sounds delicious. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  32. I've not come across a Finnish cake before, how interesting. It looks great.

  33. This looks amazing! Love all the spices. Great pictures!

  34. Beautiful studded crust on this beauty. Love it!

  35. What a great post and a beautiful cake! Just lovely! Thank you ladies! : )

  36. This cake looks amazing! I love all that is going on with this from the berries and the spices to the almonds on top!

  37. The almonds on the top of the cake look so pretty! And that's coming from someone who doesn't like and is allergic to almonds :D

  38. Gosh I am so glad I found this recipe! I too love all things Scandinavian, especially Finnish baking. My all time favorite thing to bake is Pulla, a Finnish sweetbread with cardamom also. I will be definitely making this lovely looking cake asap. Thanks!


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