This week's Tuesdays with Dorie was chosen by Nancy of The Dogs Eat the Crumbs: Swedish Visiting Cake. Through TWD I've discovered some terrific blogs and found so many friends who share my passion for baking/cooking. I'm happy to count Nancy among those friends. She's a genuinely nice person and a fabulous blogger - her posts are always so detailed and she's quick to offer tips/advice via Twitter whenever I ask. So, even though the last thing we needed around here was another dessert, I couldn't skip Nancy's pick.
Fortunately, her selection couldn't have been easier to make. In fact, Dorie mentions that this cake is so quick that supposedly you could start making it when you saw visitors coming up the road and have it finished by the time they arrived at your home. I'm not sure it was quite that quick, but it definitely ranks among the easiest recipes we've made from Dorie's book. It can basically be made in just one bowl (if you ignore the bowl you use to melt the butter) with a whisk and a rubber spatula and since I started my cake Sunday night at 10:30 pm, that was a very good thing! The ingredient list is short and includes sugar, lemon zest, melted butter, flour, eggs, and both vanilla and almond extracts (though Dorie notes that the extracts are optional - I used both). The recipe calls for baking the cake in a 9-inch cast iron skillet, but my only cast iron skillet is 12 inches so I just used a regular 9-inch cake pan. Sliced almonds are sprinkled on the cake before it's baked, but I only had whole almonds, so I did my best to slice them as thinly as I could. I think this cake would have been impossible to turn out of the cake pan so I just left it in there and cut slices as necessary.
Since there is no leavener in the cake, it bakes up fairly thin and falls in the rustic category for me. It's wonderfully moist and chewy, and dense - but in the best possible way. I'm not a big fan of almonds but there's almost no flavoring I love more than almond extract, which I acknowledge is somewhat weird. I've found it rare to include almond extract in a dessert and not have it play a starring role and that was certainly the case here. The almond is definitely the prominent flavor in the cake though I could also detect the lemon hanging out in the background. The only thing I didn't love about the cake were the almonds I sprinkled on top - I picked them off before eating my slice and wouldn't include them next time. I would have skipped them entirely, but I knew the cake would photograph better with them on there and I'm not above including garnishes just for photos. I gave most of the cake to my mom and she commented that it might be her number 2 favorite recipe - so high praise all around on this one!
Thanks, Nancy, for a great pick this week! You can find the recipe for the Swedish Visiting Cake on Nancy's blog or on page 197 of Baking: From My Home to Yours.