Several years ago I bought a t-shirt at a little Finnish shop in Astoria, OR. The shirt said, “Miksi minä olen niin kaunis? [Translation: Why am I so beautiful?] Because I’m Finnish.” I’m 1/4 Finn thanks to my grandma; needless to say, she got a kick out of that shirt. My grandma was always kind enough to tell me I was beautiful and if being part Finnish had anything to do with it, she was fine taking credit for that. My grandmother passed away exactly one year ago, so I share this recipe she passed onto me in her honor.
My grandmother loved to make people laugh and her pleasant demeanor never hinted that her childhood had been less than perfect — her father being declared MIA when his naval ship hit a mine when she was five and her elementary school years being marked by the air raids of World War II. As a child, she taught me silly Finnish songs, instructed me in the art of making “leaf hats,” and told me the reason the Finnish had a skinny Santa is because he started his journey in Finland, but by the time he reached the US he’d eaten a lot of cookies which is why we had a fat Santa.
She was a talented cook and loved playing hostess.There is much about etiquette and social propriety that I should have learned from her. She gave Noel and I a key to her house and told me I was welcome to come stay anytime and she meant it. If she and my grandfather were in town there would be chocolates on the pillows and a full breakfast in the morning. Even if she was gone, she’d have something set aside in the freezer for us to heat up. This torte was actually a dish she pulled out of her well stocked freezer one time when we visited unexpectedly. This dessert is not particularly difficult to make, but it has a fancy feel to it and is sure to impress. It makes two tortes and unless I’m entertaining a large group I freeze the second one so I can always have one waiting in the wings should the necessity arise. My grandma taught me well.
Tosca Torte (Toska Kakku)
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 C flour
- 1/2 C melted butter (1 cube)
- 1 1/3 C sugar
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- ¾ C sliced almonds
- ¾ C butter
- 1 TBSP Honey or dark corn syrup
- ½ C Sugar
- ½ C Cream
- 1 TBSP Flour
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8” round pans. (Of course you could use a torte pan as the name implies, but I don’t think my grandma ever did. I’ve used cake pans, pie pans, and my spring form pan with success.)
- Beat eggs and sugar until creamy, add the flour and baking powder. Mix into a thick batter.
- Pour in the melted butter and mix well. Divide batter between the two prepared pans spreading it to the edges the best you can with a rubber spatula.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned on the edges.
- While they cook, add all the filling ingredients to a small saucepan. Boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 13-15 minutes.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and pour half the almond mixture in the middle of each cake. Spread almost to the edge with a rubber spatula.
- Bake 10-15 minutes more until edges are golden and the almond mixture is bubbly. Remove from oven and allow to cool before serving. You can serve straight out of the pan, or run a knife along the edges and use a spatula to leverage the torte out onto a plate. (Tip: Popping the torte in the freezer for 15-20 minutes can make it easier to get out of the pan.)