Scandinavian-Inspired Recipe: Avocado & Bacon Club Sandwich Cake

Last week we introduced you to the Swedish Smörgåstårta (aka Sandwich Cake). Did you love the idea? Were you perhaps just curious about it? I was indeed curious, but I didn't want to shell out big bucks for a ton of seafood if it didn't work out. Instead, I made something a little more Super Bowl friendly and recognizable to American palates. Think of it as a club sandwich on steroids. (And in this case, that's a good thing!)
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Sandwich cake is all about the presentation. It's a magical surprise. No one knows what the inside looks like and it doesn't really matter. Decorating with food is rather fun. Have you ever walked through your produce department and thought of everything as decoration? Finding pretty peppers and healthy looking greens is just half the battle.
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The inside of this cake was pressed together and bound by a coating of cream cheese and sour cream. Mixed in with those tasty fats is a little salt, black pepper and garlic powder. Think of it as thick dip — and who doesn't like dip!
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I found myself snacking on the cut-off crusts with a little on top. It's darn tasty, and I found myself eating more crust snacks than I should probably admit to in such a public place. Let's just say it's not bad if there are leftovers.
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So what's in this bad boy? All good things, my friends! We went for American staples like turkey, ham, bacon, avocado... is your mouth watering yet? What really matters is that it tastes as good on the inside as it looks on the outside.

Now here's where you can get fancy, or you can make it easy. If you're the type to make your own mayonnaise, then go ahead. If you're the one who wants to pick up thick cut turkey from your deli, blaze a trail! If you're all right with grabbing a bag of shredded lettuce because it's on sale for $0.79, then that's fine, too. You can dress your sandwich cake for the prom or the Sadie Hawkins Dance, but either way you'll have good times.

If you're still not sold on why this is a good recipe for your next party, let's take a closer look at a few of those ingredients to get you in the spirit, shall we?

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First, there's bacon. Beautiful glowing bacon.
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Next up is ham. Now this pile of diced ham is getting ready to mingle with those cute little pickles.
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Everything is cuter in miniature size.
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Mix your ham and pickles with a little mayo and spices and you have ham salad. If you want to go all out, run it through a meat grinder. Ham salad was probably a staple at your grandparent's house and it's pretty tasty in Sandwich Cake.
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Avocados are so good we didn't dare leave them out of this creation. Not only do they act as a glue to keep things bound together, they meld together with a bit of mayo to keep their color and help balance out the tangy cream cheese exterior.
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The base of the cake is made from layers of fresh bread. In this case we picked up a few loaves of sourdough. But you can pretend I made them.

The assembly process isn't as tricky or exact as it seems it would be. If you watch videos online of pro Swedish chefs taking a stab at this creation, they're usually made on a grand scale intended to feed at least 20 people or more. I liked the idea of something more modest to serve 6-8. The recipe below makes two of these cakes.

They can be made in advance, so they're great for entertaining. Use them as the appetizer or the main dish! Are you ready to see how to whip one up in your own kitchen? Right this way:

Free Form Club Sandwich Cake

serves 6-8

4 to 7 inch bread loaves, such as the boules pictured here
1 medium avocado
3/4 cup mayonnaise, divided
Kosher salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
Garlic powder to taste
6 to 10 ounces cubed ham
10 small gherkin dill pickles, diced
3 tablespoons butter, softened
6 strips bacon, cooked
8 to 12 slices turkey meat
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly

Icing for the Sandwich Cake
8 ounces cream cheese
4 ounces sour cream
Kosher salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
Garlic powder to taste

Garnish Options
1 red pepper
6 radishes
1 handful of shredded lettuce
3 tablespoons crumbled bacon
1 bunch parsley (leaves only)

Slice boules into 3/4"to 1" thick slices. Remove crusts with knife. In a small bowl combine avocado and 3 tablespoons mayonnaise. Season with a pinch of salt, pepper and garlic salt and set aside. In a separate bowl combine ham, pickles, remaining mayo, another pinch of salt, pepper, and garlic salt and stir until well mixed. Set aside.

Butter slices of bread with softened (not melted) butter. Place base layer of bread on a plate or piece of parchment paper (for easy transfer to a serving piece later). Add 1/4 of avocado mixture. Next, add half of your bacon and then half your turkey. Add 1/4 more avocado mixture to the bottom side of the next piece of bread. Press second piece of bread down on top. Use a scrap piece of bread to help press things together to avoid getting butter fingers.

Add ham salad mixture and press together. If you happen to have a ring mold this can help, but being gentle with a spoon works fine, too. Layer on your onions and then top piece of bread.

At this point, things might look a little, well, messy. Use a pair of kitchen shears to snip off any stray meat bits that might be hanging out. Mix together cream cheese and sour cream for exterior icing. You can use a hand mixer or soften your cream cheese in the microwave (30 seconds on high and 10 second intervals after that until soft enough to stir the lumps out) first. Add seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic salt).

It's time to ice! Your goal isn't perfection.Your garnishes will cover most mishaps and in the end, it's a cake made of sandwich, so no one will be criticizing your icing job. If it helps, place a wooden skewer through the middle of the cake layers to hold things together.

Ice like a traditional cake and add garnishes. Get creative, look through other ideas online (find lots of reference here) or just wing it (like I did) and trust your gut. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Repeat steps above to create second cake. Once cakes are chilled and icing has "set" cut each cake into 3 to 4 pieces depending on how hungry you are. Serve and enjoy!

Note: This recipe can also make one larger layered cake instead of two smaller ones. Stay under 12" and you'll be alright to use whatever bread you can get your hands on.

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Serve up your sandwich cake in style at your next get together and wait for everyone's shock and amazement. It's savory and delicious!
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(Images: Sarah Rae Trover)

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