If you’ve ever had a bite of Kvæfjordkake, then you likely understand why many people know it as cake is also known as verdens beste kake or world’s best cake. With layers of buttery cake, delicate meringue, silky vanilla cream, and chopped almonds, it is rich yet light, each bite almost like a cloud.
Kvæfjordkake is known as Norway’s national cake, and it has official ambassadors. I had the pleasure of interview one of them a few years ago when I was the food editor for The Norwegian American, and she shared the true recipe in the paper. (You can find the original article by clicking here. Note, there is a paywall.)
In the meantime, you can find a slightly adapted version of the recipe below; while many people use kakefyll, a packaged mix for cake filling, I’ve included my own recipe for vanilla pastry cream, adapted from my cookbook Modern Scandinavian Baking, below.
I hope you enjoy this “world’s best cake”!
Adapted from the recipe as shared by the cake's official U.S. ambassador for my article in The Norwegian AmericanNote that you'll need to make the pastry cream in advance, so that it has time to chill.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil an 11-by-16-inch pan (or similar size). Place a sheet of parchment paper over this, and lightly grease this too.
To make the cake, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, incorporating fully between additions.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and vanilla sugar. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture a little at a time, alternating with the milk. Spread the batter into the pan.
Next, make the meringue: In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
Using a spatula, carefully spread the egg whites on top of the cake batter. Sprinkle with chopped almonds and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the meringue is dry and golden. Cool in the pan.
When the cake and meringue have cooled, cut in half vertically. Place one half on a platter. Spread pastry cream over this, using enough to add a luscious layer without it spilling out the sides (you won't need the full portion). Top with the remaining half of the cake.
Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl–it should be big enough to hold the saucepan.
Place the saucepan over medium heat and add the milk. Bring it to a simmer, then remove from the heat.
In a bowl, beat the sugar and eggs until the sugar starts dissolving, then whik in the cornstach.
Slowly pour a half cup of the warm milk into the bowl with the sugar and eggs, then gradually pour this back into the saucepan, whisking constantly–you're tempering the eggs here, so they won't ccurdle.
Return the pan to medium heat and whisk until the custard thickens a bit.
Set the pan into the icebath and add the butter. Stir or whisk until the butter melts and the pastry cream is smooth. Then stir in the vanilla.
Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap and chill until cool, then it's ready to use.