Smörgåstårtan, the Swedish Sandwich Cake is often an obvious choice for Swedes when celebrating special occasions or when you just want to treat yourself to something extra. The sandwich cake can have all types of fillings - from salmon and dill to shrimp and roe, meatballs and ham. You can use anything you feel like, all goes well in a sandwich cake depending on what you like. A more traditional sandwich cake from the past would not be quite as tasty for someone who is used to eating modern varieties, because in the past, it was customary to fill the cake with buckling and liver paste…
Almost every Swede is familiar with the sandwich cake and chances are high that you like it, but what do we really know about its history? Sliced, light bread is not something we think is particularly remarkable today. However, in the 1930s when it was new, it contributed to a sandwich hysteria in Sweden. While most people had previously baked themselves or at least bought locally produced, now more and more people began to buy commercial bread. Early on, people started experimenting with what could be put on the sandwich. It was this sandwich hysteria that paved the way for the sandwich cake to make its entrance. Exactly when it came about, however, is still being determined. In a cookbook from 1940, “sandwich with cake” was mentioned for the first time. It was not a regular sandwich cake, but it was at least something that can be considered a precursor to recent years' sandwich cakes. The recipe consisted of two layers of bread, filling and beautiful decoration. The name "sandwich cake" was mentioned five years later in an advertisement in Swedish newspapers DN and SvD.
However, it was not until the 50's, that sandwich cakes really took off. It was then considered a perfect dish to serve when you had guests, much like you look at it today. Serving sandwich cake was actually quite practical as well. Less energy (and dishes) than offering a complete three-course meal.
Some claim that the sandwich cake as we know it today originated as late as 1965. Some say that it was invented by the confectioner Gunnar Sjödahl. He says that he made loads of “snittar och landgångar” (mini sandwiches and long sandwiches with different toppings) for special occasions such as weddings, funerals, graduations etc. One day he thought to himself: “Surely I can make a cake with filling out of this” and so he did. Gunnar Sjödahl says that he and his colleagues at the patisserie managed to make hundreds of thousands of sandwich cakes before he retired. However, this is a bit controversial as the Sandwich cake is mentioned in Vår Kokbok's (Our Cook Book's) edition from 1951.
Today, after living in the shadow of "novelties" such as sushi and tacos for quite a few years, the sandwich cake is on the rise again. But it has never really been gone. It may have lost its popularity in the big cities, but never on the countryside, and regardless of when the sandwich cake was born, it has a connection to Gunnar Sjödahl. His birthday on November 13, has actually been designated as the Day of the Sandwich Cake in Sweden.