Besides just talking about yummy food, I’d also like to talk to you about family. My family, that is. Did I ever tell you the story about my long-lost Swedish cousins? Since this week’s recipe is Swedish, it seems like a good opportunity.
So, back in the day my great-grandmother, Esther Grünberger, lived with her family in a town which was then in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was told it was known as Ungvar or Uzgorod. (It’s now in the Ukraine.) Family history tells me that young Esther got on a boat by herself – that is to say without the rest of her family, not completely by herself – and sailed to the United States at the age of 12 or 13. Can you imagine that? That’s a big trip to take at any age let alone at that age, and by yourself.
Earlier, her older brother had worked his way across Europe and ended up in Stockholm. Despite being far apart, Esther and her brother (I don’t remember his name) managed to stay in touch through letters. Until at one point, I believe it was between the two world wars, they lost touch and the family was separated.
Fast forward to a few years ago. My aunt (my mom’s sister) and uncle like to travel a lot. On a trip to Stockholm, they remembered this story and tried to do something about it. They were armed only with the family story and the family name. Seeing as how Grünberger is not a Swedish name, they figured they had a decent shot at finding our long-lost family.
So they picked up the Stockholm phone book (as I said, this was a few years ago) and just started calling anyone with the last name Grünberger. I have to say, this took a lot of chutzpah. To just randomly start calling people from the phone book in a foreign country with only a name and a vague family story? Wow.
Well as you might imagine, they struck out a lot. But eventually, they talked to someone who said it sounded familiar. I believe they then got an older relative on the phone who discussed it further. Did they find them? Or could there possibly have been another set of Grünbergers with a lost family connection?
Well after much discussion, they finally found the clincher. They faxed family pictures back and forth. (As I said, it was a few years ago.) It turns out they both had the same family picture. It was them! We had found our long-lost Swedish cousins.
What followed was a bunch of people visiting their cousins across the sea. Over the years, several people on the US side went to Sweden to visit, and several on the Swedish side came to the US to visit. So for instance, my mom and her sister met a bunch of their 2nd cousins and vice versa. I met a 3rd cousin of mine, etc. It’s been great getting to know them. There are some similarities and some differences. But interestingly enough, they feel like family.
Oh, and we found out why the two sides had lost touch in the first place. It turns out Esther’s brother had gotten divorced and then moved. When that happened, his ex-wife didn’t forward his mail to him. Mystery solved!
One more mystery that just now occurred to me is what happened to the rest of the family back in their home town? Did they stay there? Did they end up leaving too? I probably need to ask my mom or my aunt. They might know.
So now that you know the story of my lovely Swedish cousins, let me tell you the story about this lovely Swedish cake. If this recipe is any indication of the deliciousness of Swedish recipes, I totally should have been asking my Swedish family for recipes. However, when I met them I did not know such a recipe existed, so I did not get it from them. I got it how I often get recipes, just randomly looking through the interwebs. It looked easy and delicious, and when I showed the picture to my wife to see if she was interested, it took her about .0001 seconds to give me a resounding yes.
Having decided to make it, I then tried to figure out what size pan to use. I went from the first recipe I found, to the one it linked to, to the one it came from originally, to an earlier version of that one. It took all that digging to figure out that the recipe called for a springform pan. I used mine which I believe is 9″.
I ended up using the second version from the original author, but I also used bits of info from the others, so I’m including those for reference. I’ll also note here that I didn’t have salted butter so I added 1/2 tsp salt, and I didn’t have vanilla sugar so I used vanilla extract.
It’s a very simple recipe. I measured out the dry ingredients and preheated the oven. Then I melted the butter and greased and floured the pan. I mixed the dry ingredients and the vanilla and eggs into the melted butter. Then I poured it into the pan.
Normally I wait to preheat the oven because it takes me longer than the recipe indicates to prepare it. But I had a sense of how quick the recipe would be, and I was right. The oven became ready just before I finished it. It really came together quickly. I put it in the oven and baked it for 20 minutes. It didn’t seem quite set around the edges so I put it back in for 5 more minutes. That seemed good.
I let it cool. It was a little bit hard to get it out of the pan. I used a plastic knife. I was able to pull it away from the sides, and I pulled the side of the springform pan off. I tried getting it off the bottom, but it was challenging. I was able to get part of it, but then it wouldn’t come all the way. So I left it in the pan. I sprinkled the powdered sugar on top. I was able to cut and pull pieces away with a plastic knife and a spatula.
I think it was because I didn’t grease it well enough. I used cooking spray, but there was something wrong with the nozzle and it wasn’t coming out right. I thought I had gotten it well-greased, but maybe not. (It’s also possible that I cooked it a little too long.)
It’s supposed to be warm, but we had it as is, which was a little bit warm, but basically room temperature. It was rich, chocolately, chewy, and moist. Subtle and delicious. Not too sweet. Nice crunchy outside. Nice contrast between the crunchy and the chewy. Yummy! I couldn’t eat more than a slice because it was so rich. (And I might have cut the slices too big.) It reminded me of flourless chocolate cake.
My wife referred to it as “happy chocolate cake”. Also, because of the troubles I had getting it out of the pan, she said that if I had to make it again to iron out the kinks, she would support that. Thanks, hon! 🙂
So there you have it. A little bit of cake and a little bit of history. The cake is very easy, and very much worth your time to make. I challenge you to find a quicker and more delicious cake. (Seriously.) And family history, I love that too. Feel free to share either below!
Recipe originally found at Confessions of a Frosting Fanatic.
Which pointed to the recipe at A Cozy Kitchen.