It’s just as glamorous as it sounds – you take some old bread that you have anyways, you take some eggs that you always have anyways, and you put some jam on it that you have in the back of your fridge anyways, and you friggin’ stack that shiz up. As easy as it is glamorous, it takes no more effort than say, finding a garbage Roll Up The Rim cup on the side of the road in the melted snow heap that hasn’t had it’s Rim Rolled Up yet so you just Roll it Up and it ends with you Win a free donut!!!!! And now you have a layer cake made of old bread that you can feed to friends, family, and vagrants.
Actually, building a cake out of bread has very deep roots in Scandinavian food history. The Swedes call it “Smörgåstårta“, the Finns “Voileipäkakku”, the Danes “Brøtåt”, and it’s a very resourceful way to use commonly scavenged household ingredients. The ingredients vary from home to home and as a result there’s no right way to fill or decorate a bread cake – though you’ve got to believe there are some pretty fierce arguments happening between those tall, statuesque, impeccably dressed Scandinavians about what constitutes the real deal.
Scavenger Recipe #7: Old Bread Layer Cake (or “Brøtät” adapted from Home Baked: Nordic Recipes and Techniques for Organic Bread and Pastry by Hanne Risgaard)
The point of the original version of this recipe is to have a lovely towering 3-layer 8″ round cake, so if you like to times this recipe by three then use three 8″ pans and bake them separately in the oven for 12-15 min. But I’m a vulture so I just wanted a couple of tiny cakes I could devour immediately without too much cutlery. This recipe yields approx. four mini layer cakes of two layers each.
35 g dark Rye bread/old bread
35 g hazelnuts/almonds, toasted and chopped
85 g sugar
1/3 tsp baking powder
blackcurrant jam/some jam you have
150 g whipping cream
extra nuts for decorating
Preheat your oven to 430°F. Grease a 12-hole muffin tin and set aside.
Using a food processor or grater, grate your old bread of choice (hopefully something with a nice taste, and you don’t want it to be too old, use the crusts as well). Chop your nuts not-too finely and combine with the old breadcrumbs.
Separate your eggies – whites right into a cold, clean bowl and yolks into a small bowl. Whip the egg whites, preferably with an electric hand mixer, sprinkling the sugar in a sprinkle at a time. Finally when the whites reach a stiff peak, tip the yolks in and blend thoroughly. Gently fold in the breadcrumbs, chopped nuts and baking powder.
Spoon the batter into the prepared forms – don’t be alarmed if it’s pretty loose, as this is just barely a sponge cake and could be mistaken for a beginner’s souffle. Into the oven for about ten minutes, they will puff up and then fall, but it’s not a big deal. Just try to keep the oven door closed until they are golden and toasted, so as not to disturb the rising. Cool on a rack and remove cakes from form once completely cool.
Using the same electric hand-mixer, whip up the whipped cream to great spreadable stiff peaks. Taking the baked mini cakes, build them up into layers with spoonfuls of blackcurrant jam and whipped cream between them, finishing the top layer with whipped cream and any remaining nuts you have left for decoration. Fresh berries would do here too and even a shaving of dark chocolate to really set off the rye flavour.