Smorgastarta 12.000

Dominic Bracco II for The Washington Post

Dec 24, 2008

This version of a Swedish savory sandwich cake has visible layers of salmon spread and shrimp salad between slices of rye and pumpernickel bread; traditionally, the smorgastarta would be frosted with a mixture of sour cream and mayonnaise, then garnished with shrimp, eggs and cucumber.

If possible, buy unsliced rectangular loaves of dark pumpernickel and rye breads; ask the bakery to cut them in long horizontal slices. That will make the layered sandwich cake easier to slice.

Make Ahead: The salmon spread and shrimp filling can be assembled 1 day in advance and refrigerated. The layered loaf must be refrigerated overnight to set up. It can be made 1 day in advance.

Servings: 12 - 16
  • For the salmon spread
  • 12 ounces skinless salmon fillet, pin bones removed (preferably center-cut)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise (do not use nonfat)
  • 3 ounces low-fat cream cheese, at room temperature (do not use nonfat)
  • For the cake and shrimp filling
  • 2 cups peeled and deveined cooked small shrimp, coarsely chopped
  • 6 ounces whipped cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped dill
  • 1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise (do not use nonfat)
  • 1/4 cup low-fat sour cream (do not use nonfat)
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • Kosher salt
  • 12 ounces (about 2/3 of a 1-pound loaf) sliced pumpernickel bread , crusts removed (see headnote)
  • 12 ounces (about 2/3 of a 1-pound loaf) sliced soft seedless rye bread, crusts removed (see headnote)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • For the garnishes
  • 1/2 seedless cucumber (unpeeled), cut into very thin slices (best to use a mandoline)
  • 2 medium lemons, peeled and cut into very thin slices (best to use a mandoline; use slices about the same thickness as the cucumber slices)
  • 2 to 3 small dill sprigs


For the salmon spread: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the salmon fillet in a baking dish; season lightly with salt and pepper, then sprinkle the lemon juice over the top. Spread the mayonnaise on top. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the salmon is just cooked through and flakes easily with a fork.

Transfer the salmon to a mixing bowl; let cool (about 15 minutes) to room temperature, then add the cream cheese. Use a fork to break up and incorporate the baked fish to form a smooth spread. Add salt and pepper to taste, mixing well. There should be about 2 cups of salmon spread.

For the sandwich cake and shrimp filling: Line a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan (preferably square-cornered) with plastic wrap, leaving enough plastic wrap hanging over the sides to envelop the finished cake at the top.

Combine the following ingredients in a medium mixing bowl: shrimp, whipped cream cheese, dill, mayonnaise, sour cream and onion, stirring to mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. There will be about 2 cups.

Begin building the cake with a single, even layer of pumpernickel bread slices on the bottom. Trim the slices of bread to fit into the pan as you work; reserve the trimmings for another use.

Spread half of the shrimp filling evenly across the bread, then add a second layer of rye bread. Spread half of the salmon mixture on that layer. Repeat with a layer of pumpernickel bread and the remaining shrimp filling, then rye bread and the remaining salmon spread, and end with a top layer of pumpernickel bread. Close the overhanging pieces of plastic wrap over the top of the cake. Gently press down to compact the cake, then refrigerate overnight (if desired, place a similarly shaped weight on the top).

Ten minutes before you are ready to serve, unwrap the top of the smorgastarta (cake), then invert it onto a large platter. Discard the plastic wrap. (It can be returned to the refrigerator unwrapped, if necessary.)

For the garnishes: Arrange the cucumber and lemon slices, laying them on the platter around the bottom edge of the cake. Sprinkle the dill around the bottom edge.

Use a thin, sharp knife to cut into slices (about 1/2 inch thick or so).

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Recipe Source

Adapted from a recipe by Swedish Caterers of Washington.

Tested by Jane Black.

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