Magnus Nilsson's sadwich torte, as prepared on PBS's Mind of a Chef

'Highly recommended' - Magnus Nilsson on the sandwich torte

The author of The Nordic Baking Book shares a mid-century Swedish dish that’s still a popular party recipe today

Magnus Nilsson comes from the home of the Nordic sandwich cake. The tale behind this unusual dish, which features in The Nordic Baking Book, begins in Nilsson’s hometown of Östersund in northern Sweden, two decades or so before the chef was born.

It was then, in the mid 1960s, that Gunnar Sjodah, an employee at the city’s Wedemarks coffeehouse claims to have invented the Sandwich torte, or savoury layer cake, as Magnus’s new book labels this dish.

It is “made up of layers of white bread (instead of cake) and savoury fillings such as seasoned mayonnaises and the like (instead of pastry cream),” explains Nilsson. “The stack of bread and fillings is then covered with a mix of mayonnaise and crème fraîche or mayonnaise and whipped cream – much like a cream torte is covered in whipped cream.”


Magnus Nilsson by Erik Olsson
Magnus Nilsson by Erik Olsson

To discerning gourmets, the sandwich torte might sound like a mid-century invention that - alongside Jell-o salad and ham mousse – is best consigned to the 20th century. However, Nilsson disagrees.

“Even though it was only popularized as late as the mid-1960s, this oddity of a dish has become a modern classic,” writes Magnus. “Often served at occasions like weddings, funerals, birthdays and other festivities when a lot of people are to be fed in a practical way, it is usually consumed with beer and aquavit on the side.”


Sandwich torte

And, just like a conventional sandwich, a sandwich torte can be filled with pretty much anything you like. “Wild combinations like salmon, meatballs, grapes, shrimp, cucumbers, pineapple, cheese, preserved mandarin wedges and ham are more common than they are uncommon," he writes.

“However surreal it might sound, if you make it from proper bread, put some effort into the seasoning, and use tasty combinations of toppings, all of which are great in quality, then it is basically just a tasty, giant sandwich,” Nilsson concludes, “which is easily cut into pieces and conveniently feeds a huge number of people. Highly recommended.”


Signed copies of The Nordic Baking Book are available in our store
Signed copies of The Nordic Baking Book are available in our store

You can watch Magnus make a sandwich torte in the video above (the title of the dish in the video, smorgastorta, is how you say sandwich torte in Swedish). For the full recipe, as well as much more besides, order a copy of The Nordic Baking Book here.