In Norway, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of February, and not the second Sunday in May the way we do here in the U.S. The tradition behind Mother’s Day stems all the way back from the Hellenic people who celebrated the goddess of fertility and motherhood, Rhea. Her name means “flow” and “ease” and she represented eternal flow of time and generations.
Later on, the Romans celebrated the mothers, signified by the offerings they made to their great mother of Gods, Cybele. Christians celebrated this festival on the fourth Sunday of Lent in honor of mother Mary, mother of Christ. In England this custom spread to celebrate all mothers in the 16th century and was called Mothering Day. It is the Americans, however, who has ‘perfected’ this celebration and to this day, Mother’s Day is the busiest day of the year for restaurants all across the country. The tradition started 150 years ago when Anna Jarvis, an Appalachian homemaker, organized a day to raise awareness for poor health conditions in her community. She believed that mothers would be the best advocate for this cause, and she named the day “Mother’s Work Day”. Anna’s daughter later recalled a Sunday School lesson her mother taught, where she hoped, one day someone would found a memorial mother’s day. “There are many days for men, but none for women,” she said. Anna got her wish!
In Norway, the first Mother’s Day was celebrated on February 9th, 1919 in Bergen, and was initially celebrated by religious groups, but it was the Oslo women Dorothea Schjoldager and Karen Platou who, in 1919, in conjunction with fitting organization, business people and mass media, were successful in establishing Mother’s Day as a national holiday in Norway.
Typically, families will make a special cake (or five, we are Norwegians, after all) in honor of Mother’s Day, as well as serving mom breakfast in bed. I was a bit stumped when thinking of which cake I wanted to include, because honestly there are so many delicious options, my head starting spinning after only a few seconds of deliberation. Staying true to my blog’s content, I chose the traditional Norwegian cream cake “bløtkake”. This is a cake to be made on days like Mother’s Day, 17th of May (Norway’s Independence Day), weddings and confirmations. Festive, pretty and decadent all in one, it’s a symbol of celebration and perfect for the most important person in our world!
There really are endless varieties of “bløtkake” – below I’ve chosen a simple, straight forward, but very classic, recipe. Some choose to fill the cake with vanilla custard mixed in with the whipped cream (delicious), and top the cake with various other fruits such as canned pears, apricots or plums, kiwis or other exotic fruits. Here’s a picture of a bløtkake which has a strawberry cream filling with Daim (the chocolate) and topped with fresh berries (From Norwegian newspaper vg.no):
How can you not get excited at the sight of such a pretty cake? The most important element here is of course the whipped cream – many think it’s too much, but it’s ironically a very light and fluffy cake in texture, and I much prefer whipped cream to sugary and fatty butter creams and /or icings. So try the below recipe out, and substitute any filling you think sounds good to you – the fresh fruit topping is always great to incorporate as it’s a perfect companion to the fluffy whipped cream.
To all the fabulous Norwegian mothers out there I say: Gratulerer med morsdagen !!
Sugar bread/for the base:
150 grams (5.3 oz) sugar
150 grams (5.3 oz) all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup blueberries, tossed lightly in sugar
1/2 cup raspberries or strawberries, tossed lightly in sugar
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups fresh raspberries or strawberries
2 cups fresh blueberries
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 13×9 baking pan with parchment paper. Alternatively you can also use a 10 inch round cake pan, depending on what shape you’d like the cake to be.
For the sugar bread; whisk the eggs and sugar and vanilla extract until thick and frothy. Sift in flour and baking powder and combine everything carefully with a spatula. Pour into the prepared baking pan and bake in oven for approximately 30 minutes. Remove cake from oven and let cool on a rack and divide into three layers.
Whip the cream for the filling with the sugar and vanilla extract until nice and thick. Spread one cake layer with the blueberries, spread half of the heavy cream evenly on top. Place another cake layer on top of the heavy cream and sprinkle the raspberries/strawberries over it, topping with the rest of the heavy cream. Place the last and third layer on top. Meanwhile, whisk the cream for the decoration, fill into a piping bag and decorate the cake with the whipped cream in whatever pattern you like. Garnish with the raspberries and blueberries.
Image Source: hjemmet.no