writer + artist

Silltårta // Pickled Herring Cake

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I was in Sweden celebrating midsummer a few years ago, and someone brought a pickled herring cake to the dinner. Beautifully decorated and pairing all of my favorite midsummer flavors in one dish, it was an instant favorite. Ever since, I’ve been making my own to add to the midsummer dinner spread.

If you’re a little weirded out by the idea of a herring cake, think of it more like a glorified open-faced sandwich. The bottom is a layer of sweet, dense rye bread which is then topped with herring, chives and eggs. Traditionally, the herring is mixed together with sour cream and cream cheese or quark, and then gelatin is used to firm it up. I never have any of the above on hand in my kitchen, so my twist is to use yogurt, straining it first to thicken it and make a kind of labneh, that is then mixed in with the herring.

Be sure to serve with some aquavit! And follow it up with this strawberry cake for dessert.

Savory Pickled Herring Cake


1 cup (240 milliliters) yogurt

About 7 ounces/200 grams rye bread (about 5-6 slices, depending on size)

5 tablespoons (70 grams) butter, melted

16-ounce (453 grams) jar of pickled herring

Salt + pepper

2 to 3 tablespoons chopped dill


3 eggs, hard boiled

1 large shallot, finely chopped

A large bunch chives, finely chopped

Dill for garnish


Before preparing the cake, you want to strain your yogurt so that it’s a very thick consistency. This is easily done by lining a mesh strainer with cheesecloth and letting it sit to strain. My preferred option is to strain it through a coffee filter. Let the yogurt sit and strain for at least an hour, and longer if possible.

When you are ready to make the cake, crumble the slices of rye bread into a bowl. If you want to have a smoother consistency, you can also put the pieces of rye bread in the food processor. Pour in the melted butter and mix together, using a fork to mash any remaining larger pieces of rye bread.

Press the bread and butter mixture into a springform pan, pressing it down evenly in the pan. Place in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Using scissors or a knife, cut the pickled herring into smaller slices. In a bowl combine the pickled herring with the yogurt, a little salt and pepper and chopped dill. Remove the pan from the refrigerator and spread the mixture on top of the bread layer.

To garnish, cut the boiled eggs into smaller pieces (or mash with a fork) so that you have a crumbly consistency. Starting in the middle of the cake, sprinkle a straight line of crumbled egg. Working your way out, add additional lines of chopped shallot, chives and eggs, so that you get a “striped” cake.

Chill until ready to serve. If you’re planning on serving this in the evening, the best is to make it in the morning so that the base has time to set.

Note: this makes for a thinner cake. If you want it to be a little “taller,” do a thicker base with a little more rye bread and butter.

Want more Swedish recipes? I have many more in my books Fika The Art of The Swedish Coffee Break and a few in Live Lagom: Balanced Living the Swedish Way

Written by Anna Brones

June 20, 2019 at 09:25

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