Suksessterte (Norwegian Almond “Success Cake”)
I had been waiting until Easter to bake a suksessterte (also called suksesskake and gulkake, or success cake in English), mostly because it’s a festive yellow, but I couldn’t wait any longer so I made it a few days early. But this way you’ll have time to get the ingredients to bake your own suksessterte for Easter! Norwegians will also bake this for any kind of celebration throughout the year, including weddings, confirmations, and holidays.
Suksessterte is a Norwegian almond cake with a lovely yellow egg cream frosting. The almond base is very simple, made with just eggs, almonds, sugar, baking powder, and a couple spoons of flour, and the yellow cream is equally simple, made with egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, and heavy cream.
Suksessterte has always been my favorite Norwegian cake, and in fact I’d say it’s always been my entire family’s favorite cake. My mom usually makes this so I was nervous to make it myself, but I’m happy to report that this is the most delicious cake I have ever baked.
Okay but here is suksessterte’s dirty little secret: suksessterte might actually be Swedish.
Suksessterte was first named in “Den lille bakeboken” which was actually a translation of a Swedish cookbook! In the Swedish version the cake is called King Oscar II’s cake. Apparently suksessterte, also called almond cake in Sweden, was often served at Swedish royal engagements at the end of the 19th century and it was King Oscar II’s favorite cake. Though interestingly King Oscar II also ruled Norway from 1872 until Norway gained independence in 1905. So I guess since he was ruling over Norway, that makes the cake Norwegian as well?
But what matters most here is that suksessterte is delicious and incredibly popular in Norway today.
You’ll often find suksessterte served at Norwegian cafés and bakeries, but to be honest I gave up ordering them because none were ever nearly as good as my mother’s – hers is somehow more flavorful. But don’t worry, she has generously shared her suksessterte recipe with us here so you’ll definitely be making the most delicious version of this almond cake.
Out of curiosity I did compare her recipe to other recipes I found online, and I think I might have figured out the secret: most suksessterte recipes only use egg whites in the almond base, whereas her version uses whole eggs, including the yolks.
As with her fantastic sachertorte, my mother found this recipe in an Alt Om Mat magazine from sometime before 1991, back when Queen Sonja was still the Crown Princess. My family is in good company here, because according to the magazine, suksessterte is also Sonja’s favorite. This recipe comes from Crown Princess [now Queen] Sonja’s handwritten cookbook.
Queen Sonja’s version is a bit fancier, decorated with marzipan, whipped cream, and exclusive candied violets that the magazine recommends buying on your next trip to London. But for us commoners the yellow egg cream alone is topping enough.
I’ve also seen some bakeries drizzle chocolate over the yellow cream, but if you make a good egg cream the chocolate is unnecessary (and detracts from the delicious egg cream flavor).
The baking time will depend on how big your cake form is. The original recipe suggests about 45 minutes, but I baked mine for just under one hour using a 27 cm (10.6 inch) springform. If you’re using a smaller form you might need to bake longer so that the center cooks through. I baked the cake until the top started to turn dark brown (right before burning) and that ensured that the cake was fully baked but still nice and moist in the center.
Getting the baking time right is definitely the most difficult part of making a suksessterte. If the cake is under baked, the center will cave in. That’s why I bake it right until the top is about to burn – just keep a close eye on the cake so that it doesn’t actually burn.
Cook the egg cream on low enough heat that it doesn’t quite boil, but high enough heat that it does thicken. If you’re unsure if it has thickened it probably hasn’t. You can raise the temperature if it still isn’t thick after fifteen minutes – just make sure it doesn’t reach a full boil as the eggs will start to curdle (a few small bubbles are okay).
Make sure to let the egg cream fully cool before adding in the butter. I used an electric mixer to make the cream a bit more fluffy, but it’s not necessary.
Flip the cake over after taking it out of the form so that you can frost the smoother bottom of the the cake.
Suksessterte (Norwegian almond “success cake”)
- food processor or almond grinder
- hand mixer
- 300 g almonds
- 3 eggs
- 300 g granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
Yellow egg cream
- 5 egg yolks
- 100 ml heavy cream
- 85 g granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract)
- 100 g butter (room temperature)
- Preheat oven to 175°C (347°F) and grease cake form (I use a 27 cm spring form).
- Grind almonds in an almond grinder or food processor. I like to keep them a bit coarse.
- Using a hand mixer, whisk eggs and sugar together until thick. Carefully fold in the ground almonds, flour, and baking powder.
- Pour batter into cake form and bake for about one hour, monitoring to make sure the top doesn't burn.
Yellow egg cream
- Add egg yolks, heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla to a saucepan. Heat over low/medium heat while stirring constantly until the mixture thickens – about 15 minutes. Turn up the heat if the mixture doesn't thicken, but be careful not to boil.
- Let the mixture cool to room temperature and then add the butter. You can use an electric mixer for a fluffy egg cream.
- Wait for the cake to cool completely before removing from form and frosting.