In Finland, sweet cakes have been baked since the 17th century, first in mansions, from where the recipes slowly spread to ordinary people. In the early 20th century, coffee and sweet pastries were rarely eaten in Finnish homes, aside from on festive occasions. Unfilled and undecorated, but flavoured, coffee cakes were the first to arrive. Lemon was a typical cake flavouring. There were various lemon cake recipes in every caterer’s cook book.The Maria Lönnrot cake was named after Elias Lönnrot’s wife. In addition to being a doctor, botanist, developer of the Finnish language and poet, Lönnrot compiled the Finnish national epic Kalevala. In the late 19th century, the Lönnrot family lived in Sammatti, in southern Finland, around 80 kilometres west of Helsinki. The Maria Lönnrot cake is considered a local Sammatti delicacy, although Mrs Lönnrot was born and lived in northern Finland before marrying. The cake is made with cream, sugar and wheat flour, raised with baking soda and flavoured with grated lemon peel or cardamom.
Grease a round cake mould and dust it with sugar (NB: do not use breadcrumbs). Whisk the cream and sugar until creamy. Mix the dry ingredients and add into the cream and mix.Bake for about one hour in a preheated oven (175°C). Turn out onto a plate when hot.