Umami Mart Registry

So this weekend I was having a few people over for a potluck birthday party and I took it upon myself to make the dessert. A long time ago I remembered making a super delicious rye bread layer cake -- crunchy, fresh and sweet with raspberry cream--but I couldn't find the old recipe so I googled a new one online.

And yes, right now you're probably thinking: "Don't you know better? Never test a new recipe out on guests, stick to your tried-and-true dishes!!"

And you're right.

Therefore I won't bother anyone with the exact recipe I found. Because it was basically not edible. Poor guests.

So I'll just show a few pictures and describe the process of making it loosely. And hey, it was fun constructing this mess and perhaps someone might find inspiration in it and try to seek out a better alternative.


Rye bread is a staple food in Denmark. Most Danes bring open sandwiches (a base of rye bread with toppings of meat and vegetables) in their lunchboxes to work everyday -- it's a big part of being Danish and living healthy.

The bread comes in many varieties (grains, sesame seeds, cornflower seeds etc etc) and shades of brown, and is considered a very healthy part of one's diet as it contains almost no fat or sugar, just lots of stomach-friendly grains.

You probably won't find much of this healthy food item in the American midwest supermarkets, but one could imagine that the foodie hippies of Berkeley and beyond would dig this sturdy Woodman's Bread in the picture above.


I started out by making the layer cake "bottoms" -- the bread middle layers.

Divding the egg whites and the egg yolk... Hmm, one of the eggs broke and the yellow yolk ran into the bowl of egg whites.
Am I fucked?


Yes. As much as I whip and whisk the egg whites wouldn't stiffen. That's because some yolk came in.


Starting over with 6 new fresh egg whites! I throw half of the sugar in there and whip up again.




I mix the other half of the sugar with the egg yolks.


Mixing flour with baking powder.


... While weighing the fabulous loaves of rye bread.


By hand I crumble the loaves into small bits into the flour mix.




All things are mixed together and ready to be baked into shape.


I have this nice little baking pan with an easy slip surface, but since I need to bake a lot, it's quicker to insert a baking sheet.


Dough into paper into the pan into oven.


Out of oven. Looks ok! The many grains look nicely baked into the sweet mix of eggs and sugar.


In the morning I took out these frozen raspberries to let them thaw. Now they're ready.


I save a little bunch of berries in a cup for making pink frosting later on.


The rest I place in a pot over medium heat, along with heaps of sugar and bring it slowly to a boil. I love raspberries, they're such a powerful fruit of nature -- sweet with a fresh kick.


The recipe required 2 sheets of isinglass (gelatine), so I melt them in a cold waterbath for 5 minutes.


One (1!) liter of cream ready to be whipped. Which also appeared later on to be way too much.


Raspberries are now melted along with the sugar, and I pour in the isinglass.


And when the cream is whipped, the raspberry compote is folded into the white fluffyness.


... and everything becomes pink!


Placing a baked bottom on a plate I go to look for my port in the closet.


.. And liberally squirt the port all over the baked grains.


And then place a layer of pink fluff on top.


And some sliced bananas for a real layer cake-style.


Repeat until you have three layers. Looks quite good now, very Scandinavian and healthy. Alice Waters would love this. Perhaps I should have stopped here...


...But a real layer cake needs icing.


I add the leftover raspberries into the sugar mix and pour over the cake.




Decorate the top with walnuts.


Looks... well.. interesting. The icing suddenly appeared too thin, but it was too late, the cream had all started to run. But it caused a cool monster-brain look though.

Unfortunately as good as this baby appears visually it wasn't really a life changing experience to bite into. The rye bread was way too dominant and the whole cake tasted less sweet than I would like, since it's a dessert. Maybe I should've blended the batter so it would've become less grainy. Or perhaps added a mixture of blended nuts into the batter as well for more crunch.


So to conclude: there ARE good rye bread layer cakes out there, but this wasn't one of them. And I don't think I'm in the mood for testing out more. I made two cakes and the guests each politely consumed their designated piece. One of my friends who's from Guatemala clearly did not have a good time with this Alien Monster Cake, it was clearly too rustic, heavy and grainy for him.

The second cake was left on the table untouched and ended its life in the trashcan. Were I thrown into the 75th Hunger Games I still could not have consumed any more of this.

Oh well. Thank God I made my Bitchin' Brownies and bought some ice cream for the guests as well, otherwise they might never come back again!

Who wants a dessert that tastes like lunch anyway.
Column: Skankynavia


  • Visually, I love it. It’s very “Venom Yum” to me. It’s so sad that the other cake ended up in the trash. But I understand… when I make something gross, I want to pretend like it never happened and it goes straight into the trash. That actually why I don’t bake much. I admire people who bake very much for their perseverance.

    yoko on

  • Monstrous looking but full marks for effort! And your guests who ate their piece. I’ve never come across rye layer cake before so will go hunting in the Skandi shops that seem to be all the rage in London at the moment.

    sakura on

  • I hate rye bread from the bottom of my heart, so I wouldn’t bother to recreate this, for sure. Also using bread as crunch in batter is something I can’t understand. I feel it soaks up too much liquid from the other ingredients. As you said Anders, using nuts only may have yielded a better and simpler result.

    Moto on

  • OMG, it looks like it belongs in Claes Oldenburg’s “Pastry Case” (look it up).
    It’s pretty cool, like a cake got run over by a truck and it’s guts spewed out.
    Also, the Rye Bread Hunk looks a lot like the Brawny Man (look it up).
    Baking is the best.

    worm on

  • It’s impossible to go wrong with this one from D. Lebowitz:

    stevo on

  • Yes yes, ya’ll. I’ll just bend over and expose my naked (yet well shaped) butt cheeks for you to whip with a wet salad leaf.

    But thank you for giving me pity points for the effort.

    Yoko: Yes, I hate throwing away food too. Such a sin in these days of hunger. But I bet the birds outside my window would just fly away in horror if I left it for them.

    Worm: I love baking too! Let’s have a Berkeley Baking session in July.

    Moto: Yeah, you Japanese don’t seem to have been born with a love for Scandinavian food – I still remember when serving liquorice to my fellow colleagues in Harajuku. They formed a line in front of the trashcan to spit it out and clean their mouths.

    Stevo: How dare you! … but alas you’re right. That 3 piece combo is more a result of watching too many cartoons I think. Looks good in theory but it’s just too much all over the place.
    That David looks very inspiring. And I’m looking forward to a baking session in Stockholm in the future as well.

    Anders on

  • Much like when one is shown an artwork done by a friend’s infant child, I will say something encouraging — Good effort! So inventive!! Creative little fellow, isn’t he!! — but secretly I’m thinking, “Maybe the little fellow has some learning problems.” Once you saw bananas AND walnuts AND raspberries, did alarm bells not ring?

    Thank goodness you are brilliant with your main courses (and tablescapes!).
    When it comes to making dessert, salvation can be found at David Lebovitz’s website.

    stevo on

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