Princess Cake (Prinsesstårta)

Recipe by Hannah Ziskin

Consisting of layers of sponge cake, jam, and pastry cream, all topped with a dome of whipped cream and covered in marzipan, Swedish princess cake is a complex undertaking with many parts, but the result is well worth it. Ethereally light, rich, and zippy all at the same time, it's a beautiful cake for a special occasion. Here, pastry chef Hannah Ziskin shares her recipe for the famous princess cake that’s served at Quarter Sheets Pizza in L.A.  

3 hrs
2 days
one 6" cake; serves 8 to 12
Princess Cake - select to zoom
Princess Cake - select to zoom
Princess Cake - select to zoom
Princess Cake - select to zoom


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  1. Note: We recommend making some of the components, like the chiffon cake and jam, in advance to split up the production time. See “tips,” below for a sample timeline. 

  2. To make the pastry cream: Place the water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Stir with a small whisk or your fingertip to fully hydrate (this is known as “blooming” the gelatin). Set aside. 

  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and sugar. Set the bowl near the stove.  

  4. In a medium pot, combine the milk, vanilla bean pod and scraped seeds, and salt. (If using vanilla bean paste, wait to add it until the mixture is off the heat.) Cook the milk mixture over medium heat just until steaming. As the milk heats, whisk a splash of warm milk into the cornstarch-sugar mixture to make a slurry. 

  5. When the milk is about to simmer, add the yolks to the cornstarch mixture and whisk to fully combine. While constantly whisking, gradually add some of the hot milk to the egg mixture, stopping when the egg mixture feels warm. Now whisking constantly in the pot, pour the hot egg mixture into the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, still whisking constantly, and cook for 20 to 30 seconds at a full boil, until the pastry cream thickens to a custardy consistency and is smooth and shiny. 

  6. Strain the pastry cream through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl and whisk in the bloomed gelatin. Discard the strained solids and save the vanilla bean pod for another use; alternatively, add the vanilla bean paste. Then add the butter, allow it to melt for a few seconds, and whisk to fully incorporate. Press a piece of plastic wrap or parchment onto the surface of the pastry cream and allow it to cool to room temperature. Transfer the pastry cream to the refrigerator to cool until firm, at least 3 hours or up to 3 days in advance. 

  7. To make the sweet milk soak: In a small bowl, combine the milk, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Whisk to dissolve the sugar, then refrigerate until ready to use. 

  8. To make the diplomat cream: When you’re ready to assemble the princess cake, remove the pastry cream from the refrigerator and transfer it to a large bowl; it will be quite stiff. Beat it vigorously with a flexible spatula, then a whisk, to break it up as much as possible.

  9. In a separate large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the cream to stiff peaks. Whisk about half of the whipped cream into the pastry cream to lighten it, then fold in the remaining cream. The diplomat cream will be quite thick. Transfer it to the refrigerator while you cut the cake layers. 

  10. To assemble the princess cake: Using a 6" round of parchment as a guide or a 6" cake ring, cut three 6" circles out of the chiffon cake. Use your fingers or a nylon spreader to peel off the dark surface from the top side of each cake round to expose the crumb. (Save cake scraps in the freezer for trifle or rum balls, or to make miniature princess cakes.) 

  11. Line a 6" cake pan or 6" cake ring with plastic wrap so that it completely covers the pan and hangs generously over the sides. 

  12. Place 1 layer of cake into the prepared pan. Brush with 1 tablespoon (20g) sweet milk soak. Dollop 2 1/2 tablespoons (52g) raspberry jam over the top and use a small offset spatula or the back of a spoon to spread it nearly to the edges in a thin layer. Spoon on 1 cup (200g) diplomat cream and spread it into an even layer. Repeat once more — cake, soak, jam, diplomat cream — then place the third and final layer of cake on top. Cover the cake with the plastic overhanging the edge, then transfer to the refrigerator to set overnight or up to 3 days. 

  13. When you’re ready to finish the princess cake, remove it from the refrigerator, unfold the plastic from the top, then invert it onto a serving board or plate. Lift up the pan and remove all of the plastic wrap. Lightly press down on the edges of the top layer to make a domed shape rather than a flat top. 

  14. To make the whipped mascarpone: In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, whip the mascarpone, cream, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and salt to stiff peaks. Pile the whipped mascarpone on top of the cake, concentrating it in the center. Use an offset spatula or a spoon to shape the cream into a dome. Transfer the cake to the refrigerator while you roll out the marzipan. 

  15. Cut off about a quarter (135g) of the marzipan. Set aside. (You can use this to make decorations for the princess cake, marzipan fruit, or to cover mini princess cakes.) On a surface dusted lightly with confectioner’s sugar, roll out the remaining marzipan into a 12" to 14" circle about 1/8" thick. Use a rolling pin to lift the marzipan, then center it on top of the cake so there is an overhang on all sides. Working quickly, use your hands to flatten the marzipan around the cake, working around the cake from top to bottom.  

  16. Use a sharp knife to cut the excess marzipan as close to the base of the cake as possible. Decorate the cake with fresh edible flowers, marzipan flowers, piped buttercream flowers, or simply a dusting of confectioners’ sugar. Keep the cake chilled until ready to serve. 

  17. Storage information: The finished princess cake can be stored in the refrigerator overnight in a cake box or cake keeper for up to 4 days.  

Tips from our Bakers

  • To substitute storebought marzipan, use 360g (you’ll need two 7-ounce tubes).  

  • Sample timeline #1: (3 or 4 days of prep)

    • Day 1: Make the marzipan and raspberry jam. Make the chiffon cake, pastry cream, and sweet milk soak. (Or split this between 2 days.)
    • Day 2: Make the diplomat cream and assemble the cake. Chill the cake overnight.
    • Day 3: Top with the mascarpone whip and cover with marzipan. Slice and serve the cake. 
  • Sample timeline #2: (2 days of prep) 

    • Day 1: Make the pastry cream, raspberry jam, marzipan, chiffon cake, and sweet milk soak (in that order so the pastry cream and jam have time to set). When the pastry cream is chilled, make the diplomat cream and assemble the cake. Chill the cake overnight. 
    • Day 2: Top with the mascarpone whip and cover with marzipan. Slice and serve the cake.