A traditional Swedish midsummer table set outside with fresh potatoes, pickled herring, eggs, salmon, meatballs and flowers.

What is it with herring cake?

You don’t have to travel to Sweden to get the right Midsummer feel. Celebrating a Swedish style solstice anywhere in the world is perfectly doable, as long as you can make that herring cake, right?

You could celebrate the longest day of the year with a cake. You could also celebrate it with a herring cake, especially if that long day is the Swedish Midsummer holiday. When you gather friends and family around a feast heavy on seasonal and local foods, there are some dishes you don’t dare to leave out. Such as cured salmon, sour cream, new potatoes, strawberries and all the variations of pickled herring.

David Johansson and the IKEA Food product developers work on future ideas, innovations and recipe development out of a food lab in Malmö, Sweden. Together they develop food for more than 400 IKEA stores in 49 markets. We asked him about his relation to the traditional Midsummer food.

What is it with herring cake, David?

“Once in a while, new dishes adds on to our classic Swedish celebrations. Herring cake is one of them and I think it is here to stay. It is just a different way of serving herring. Basically using the herring to flavor the dish with the saltiness and spices that’s in the matjes herring. That’s why it’s usually popular by many people and not only the genuine herring lovers. And when done right, it also looks beautiful and works really nice as a center piece on your buffet,” says David.

What will you serve friends and family this Midsummer?

“The must have combination: Fresh potatoes boiled with dill stems, matjes herring, sour cream, red onion and fine chopped chives. To that I like to add crispy crumbles of a dark rye bread, black seaweed pearls and radishes,” says David.


Herring cake with chives

A bundle of chives and a pair of scissors next to a herring cake, with one piece of the cake served on a small white plate.
Herring cake, a Swedish midsummer tradition.

Serves 8-10
1 hour + 2 hours for the bread

250 g BRÖDMIX FLERKORN, multigrain bread baking mix
1 tsp brown sugar
75 g butter, melted
3 sheets of gelatine
1 jar of SILL MATJES matjes herring fillets
1 red onion, finely chopped
200 ml crème fraiche
250 g curd cheese, 10% fat
100 ml chives, finely chopped
Salt and white pepper

How to do it:
1. Prepare the whole package of BRÖDMIX FLERKORN according to the instructions on the package. When it has cooled down, cut 250 g in small pieces and mix in a blender. Add brown sugar and butter. Mix until it becomes like crumble.

2. Cover the inside of a round baking pan, 24 cm diameter, with cling film. Pour the bread crumbs in the baking pan evenly and press/ flatten. Leave in room temperature for 30 minutes.

3. Place the sheets of gelatine in cold water. Cut the herring in small pieces. Combine herring, onion, crème fraiche and curd cheese in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Melt the gelatine in a saucepan with 1 tbsp. water, low heat. Allow to cool and pour into the bowl in a gentle beam while you’re whisking constantly.

5. Distribute the mix on the bread, cover with cling film and place it in the fridge for 2 hours.

6. Remove the cake from the baking pan, put on a serving tray and garnish with chives.

Three small jars of pickled herring on a marble top, with a fork stuck into one of them.

Use the SILL MATJES herring fillets for the saltiness.

A man and a woman wearing wreaths at a traditional Swedish midsummer lunch, helping themselves at a buffet table outside.

Serve the herring cake together with other Swedish goodies on the midsummer buffet.

Did you know?

In the IKEA Swedish Food Market, you’ll find a wide range of ASC certified salmon and MSC certified herring products. This means that when farming and fishing, we have taken great care not to disturb the sensitive marine ecosystems. That’s our contribution to protecting seafood supplies for generations to come.