Smörgåstårta – A Very Big Multi-layered Swedish Sandwich

In Cuisine by Skjalden

Smörgåstårta is a delicious cake from Sweden that turns the concept of cake on its head. Unlike the sweet cakes we’re all familiar with, smörgåstårta is filled with ingredients you might find in a sandwich. It’s a centerpiece at gatherings, blending the joy of eating together with the creativity of Swedish cooking.

Let’s dive into what makes smörgåstårta so special, and how it came to be a beloved part of Swedish cuisine.

What Exactly is Smörgåstårta?

Imagine layers of soft, delicious bread, not sweet but more like what you’d use for a sandwich. These layers are generously smeared with creamy spreads, from mayonnaise to soft cheese, and packed with fillings like ham, shrimp, eggs, and veggies. The whole thing is then decorated with precision and care, making it look as stunning as any traditional cake.

But here’s where it gets interesting: despite its appearance, smörgåstårta is served as a main dish, often at celebrations or special events. It’s a perfect example of the Swedish love for practical yet delightful foods.

A Brief History

The concept of smörgåstårta isn’t new. It first made its mark in the mid-20th century, around the 1940s and 50s, a time when Sweden was emerging from the constraints of wartime rationing. Ingredients became more accessible, and there was a collective desire to celebrate and enjoy communal meals again.

The earliest mention of smörgåstårta dates back to a newspaper from 1934, but it was in the post-war era that it truly flourished. Initially, it was a symbol of luxury and abundance, showcasing a variety of ingredients layered between bread in an artful manner.

Making Smörgåstårta

Creating a smörgåstårta might seem daunting, but it’s quite straightforward. You start with choosing your bread – typically alternating between light and dark to create a visually appealing base. Next, you decide on your fillings. There’s a lot of room for creativity here, mixing and matching flavors according to your taste or occasion.

The decoration is where the fun really begins. Using ingredients like sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, and lemons, you can turn your smörgåstårta into a work of art. Some opt for simple designs, while others go all out to impress their guests.

A Typical Smörgåstårta Recipe

Now that you’ve been introduced to the wonderful world of smörgåstårta, why not try making one yourself? Here’s a step-by-step recipe to create a classic smörgåstårta.


1 loaf of unsliced white bread (sandwich or sourdough)
1 loaf of unsliced dark rye bread
200 grams of cream cheese, softened
200 grams of mayonnaise
300 grams of cooked and sliced ham
200 grams of shrimp (cooked and peeled)
4 boiled eggs, sliced
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 lemon, sliced for decoration
Fresh dill, for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste


Prepare the Bread: Trim the crusts off the bread loaves. Slice each loaf horizontally into three equal layers. You should have six layers in total, alternating between white and dark bread.

Mix the Spread: In a bowl, mix the cream cheese and mayonnaise together until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Layer the Smörgåstårta: Place the first layer of bread on your serving platter. Spread a layer of the cream cheese mixture over the bread, then add a layer of ham, followed by a layer of sliced eggs.

Repeat: Add the next layer of bread and press down lightly. Repeat the spreading and layering process with the cream cheese mixture, shrimp, and cucumber slices.

Continue Building: Keep building the smörgåstårta by adding layers and filling them with your chosen ingredients. End with a layer of bread on top.

Frost and Decorate: Frost the top and sides of the smörgåstårta with the remaining cream cheese mixture, like icing a cake. Decorate with sliced tomatoes, cucumber, lemon slices, and fresh dill. Be creative!

Chill: Cover the smörgåstårta with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours, or overnight, to allow the flavors to meld and the structure to firm up.

Serve: Remove from the fridge about 30 minutes before serving. Cut into slices, like a cake, and enjoy!

Feel free to get creative with the fillings and decorations to suit your taste preferences. Smörgåstårta is all about creativity and enjoying the process. Happy cooking!