Runeberg’s Cakes

Today is the day of the Finnish national poet, Johan Ludvig Runeberg, and a great number of these little cakes are enjoyed all over the country. They were baked by Johan Ludvig’s wife Fredrika in the 19th century, and there’s a story that the poet enjoyed them with his morning Punsch. He probably wasn’t the ideal husband type, but Fredrika’s cakes are lovely. Bakeries bake their Runeberg’s cakes in special tall cake tins, that produce cakes that are higher than regular cupcakes. Muffin tins make fine little cakes just as well.


Some people prefer their cakes moistened with Punsch, but most use rum or almond extract as a flavoring instead. As with any traditional recipe, there are numerous variations of the Runeberg’s Cake – some make theirs with ginger bread crumbs, and most use almonds in some form; some want their cakes very moist, and some prefer a crumbly cake. Most recipes have twice as much margarine or butter as my recipe, but I wanted to make a lighter cake, so we could eat several of them!

My Runeberg’s cakes include things I found in the cupboard yesterday evening: digestive cracker crumbs, bread crumbs, ground almonds, almond extract, and hazelnut-almond rice milk. We couldn’t resist having a bite of these yesterday evening, but the real treat was at the breakfast today, when the flavors had developed in the fridge overnight. The texture is quite crumbly, since I don’t like my cakes too moist, but the moistness is easily adjusted by the amount of liquid infused in the cakes after baking. This recipe makes exactly 12 cakes.

Dry Mix:

  • 2 and 1/2 dl ground cookies (we had digestives)
  • 2 and 1/2 dl wheat flour
  • 2 dl bread crumbs
  • 1 dl ground almonds (50 g)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon potato starch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
  • pinch each: cinnamon, cardamom, dried ginger

Wet Mix:

  • 1/2 dl dark syrup
  • 1/2 dl sugar
  • 1 dl liquid margarine (or melted margarine)
  • 1 and 1/2 dl soy yogurt (plain, unsweetened)
  • 1 dl hazelnut-almond rice milk (or other vegan milk)
  • a few drops of almond extract (not more!)


  • about 2 dl hazelnut-almond rice milk (or other vegan milk)
  • 1/2 teaspoon rum extract


  • 2 and 1/2 dl confectioner’s sugar
  • a few teaspoons orange juice (or water, or soy milk)
  • raspberry jam

I made the cake batter like a muffin batter: mixed wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls, then combined the two, and mixed just enough to combine. Now, I greased and floured my muffin tin, and spooned the batter in the cups. I leveled the surface of each cake, and then baked the cakes in 175 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes, until they were a little browned over the tops.

After the cakes had cooled down a little bit, I removed them from the tin, and moistened them with rice milk flavored with rum extract. I spread the milk over the cakes with a teaspoon and let them infuse all of it. Some people just make a mixture of rum, water, and sugar to moisten their cakes, some use additional almond extract in this. More liquid can be used to make moister cakes.

I made the icing as thick as possible, first adding just enough liquid in the confectioner’s sugar to produce a crumbly paste, and then adding some more drop by drop until the consistency was just thin enough for piping. I placed a dollop of raspberry jam in the middle of each cake, and then piped a circle of white sugar icing around the tops of the cakes. Now, I leveled the jam to make it coat the whole cake. After having a test bite with Heikki, I refrigerated the rest of the cakes until the next day.