Tuesday, April 13, 2010

{TWD} Swedish Visiting Cake


When my daughter JDE came home from college two summers ago a copy of Dorie Greenspan's book, Baking: From My Home to Yours soon appeared on my kitchen counter. In quick succession she baked the Perfect Party Cake (which she wrote up as a guest post on my blog) and then the Tarte Noire (which has not yet been chosen as a TWD recipe but is, by the way, indulgently delicious).

She mentioned that a group of food bloggers were baking their way through the book and pointed me to the Tuesdays With Dorie site. I was hooked! I joined the TWD baking group in July 2008, becoming the 200-and-something-th member of the group. I've baked along every single week since I joined - this is my 90th TWD weekly post. I have learned many baking techniques, conquered some fears (cough, cough, caramel, cough) and have enjoyed myself immensely.

When I opened the covers of Baking for the first time, the recipe that immediately appealed to me was the Swedish Visiting Cake on page 197. It looked straightforward and inviting. Even the name was homey and welcoming. Of course a cake that looked this good would be have to be made with almond, one of my favorite flavors. I vowed on the spot that I would choose this cake if it were still available when my turn rolled around, although I couldn't imagine that it would happen.

Time went on, and as things go in this kind of group, bakers came and went, so I've moved up the list and my turn to choose a recipe came much sooner than originally estimated. Lo and behold: the Swedish Visiting Cake was still available! Although my head was turned just a bit by some of the flashier recipes in Dorie's book, I stayed true to my original resolve and chose the Visiting Cake.

This one was baked in an 8" cast iron skillet
n.o.e.'s notes:

- If you want to bake the cake - and you should - I've included the recipe at the end of this post, see below. But you truly should bake many more of Dorie's wonderful recipes, so you'll be well served to buy your very own copy of the book.

- Dorie Greenspan has written about the Swedish Visiting Cake on her blog and it's worth a visit there to check out this and other wonderful treats that she features. About this cake Dorie says:

Making the cake just now reminded me for the nine-millionth time why baking is so dear to me: it is a pleasure that engages all your senses. In the 10 minutes it took me to get the mixture into my old cast-iron skillet, I rubbed sugar and zest between my fingers, watched a batter grow from thick and dull to lithe and shiny, caught the fragrance of lemon, vanilla and almond and had the satisfaction of knowing that I was making something completely by hand and that it would be something others would soon enjoy.

The fact that the house will smell like butter, sugar and vanilla for hours is just a happy extra.
- Dorie also posted a Swedish Apple version of this cake in her column for Serious Eats. I fully intended to bake that variation and include it in this post, but I couldn't bear to stray from the original recipe (it was just that good!)

- I LOVE that this cake requires just one bowl, one pan, and very few other dirty dishes. No mixer, no creaming of butter. "You're welcome," fellow TWD bakers!

- In an effort to be a good hostess this week, I took "process pictures" of each stage of the cake-making (well, nearly), but this cake is so easy that photos are not really necessary (although I did include them, below). If you can stir with a spoon, you've got this cake made.

- The cake has no leavening, and the eggs are not beaten, so it doesn't really rise. As a result it ends up with a distinctively dense and chewy texture.

- I baked this cake twice. First I made 3/4 recipe in my 8" cast iron skillet. (If you go to the P&Q for the Visiting Cake on the TWD site, I posted the ingredient amounts for 3/4 recipe.) I used 1 duck egg and 1 bantam hen egg, which came out to the perfect weight for the scaled recipe. I order these unusual eggs, along with regular chicken eggs, from my farm box, so I always have a variety of egg sizes on hand for recipes. If I do end up with extra egg parts from my baking activities, I usually throw them into my next batch of scrambled eggs.

- The second time, I baked this cake in my 10" non-stick skillet, and made 1 1/4 recipe. (This cake is the one pictured at the beginning of this blog post. The math for scaling the recipe up is on the P&Q post) I served this cake, along with a David Lebovitz chocolate flourless cake, to my book group.

- Dorie says that this cake is best eaten the day it is made, and she is, of course, right. However, if you should find yourself with some leftover Swedish Visiting Cake, you might agree with me that it's quite acceptable on the second or even the third day.

Adding a little "Swedish color": a red IKEA potholder

the verdict:


It was quite fitting that my daughter JDE was home for Spring Break when I baked this cake, since she got the TWD ball rolling around here in the first place. One taste of Swedish Visiting Cake, and she said "Oh man. This is good."

I was also glad to be able to share the cake with my book group. The members have tasted and evaluated over half of the TWD desserts. The group is filled with great cooks and I value their honest opinions about the baked goods (well, and about the books we read also!) Reviews were quite positive about the cake, although it was a tiny bit overshadowed by the showier chocolate cake that I also served.

The Visiting Cake was all that I'd hoped for, and more. Simple but not boring. Substantial in texture and subtle in flavor. The lemon was a background player and the almond more up front. The cake reminded me somewhat of a big chewy (almond-flavored) sugar cookie.

The recipe is extremely quick and I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't enjoy the finished product since the flavorings are optional and can be customized to individual tastes (although I'll be visiting all of the TWD bakers' blogs so I'll get to find out!)

Thanks so much to everyone who baked along with me!

the recipe:

Swedish Visiting Cake

from Baking, From My Home to Yours

Makes 8 to 10 servings

1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

Grated zest of 1 lemon

2 large eggs

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

About 1/4 cup sliced almonds (blanched or not)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a seasoned 9-inch cast-iron skillet or other heavy ovenproof skillet, a 9-inch cake pan or even a pie pan.

Pour the sugar into a medium bowl. Add the zest and blend the zest and sugar together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and aromatic.


Whisk in the eggs one at a time until well blended. Whisk in the salt and the extracts.


Switch to a rubber spatula and stir in the flour.

Finally, fold in the melted butter. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Scatter the sliced almonds over the top and sprinkle with a little sugar. If you're using a cake or pie pan, place the pan on a baking sheet.

Of course I forgot to take a picture of the cake in the pan BEFORE I popped it in the oven. Here's a very blurry picture of the cake IN the oven; I made it reeeeally small so the lack of focus won't hurt your eyes as much
Bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it is golden and a little crisp on the outside; the inside will remain moist. Remove the pan from the oven and let the cake cool for 5 minutes, then run a thin knife around the sides and bottom of the cake to loosen it. You can serve the cake warm or cooled, directly from the skillet or turned out onto a serving plate. [I was too chicken to turn the cake out, so served it both times from the skillets]

One reason I don't take "process pictures" more often: the need to keep an eye on the doggies to make sure the food survives the photo shoot! Meet Bro, our new rescue Australian Shepherd.

94 comments:

Mary said...

What a fantastic pick, Nancy! I would take this cake over a chocolate one any day! Great step-by-step photos. I loved this cake, and am sad I only made a half recipe. Thanks!

Valerie said...

Nancy, this is one of my favourites so far. Thanks! Lovely pictures btw. The first one could be right out of the book. :)

Rachelle @ "Mommy? I'm Hungry!" said...

Happy TWD week! This was a great pick after all, and I'm glad I baked along, because I've found a new Fave! =)

Leslie said...

Great pick, Nancy! I love your process photos (and that one with Bro is especially cute).

The Food Librarian said...

Love this one Nancy. Thank you for the no creaming and one bowl! :) You are one of my favorite TWD bloggers, and your dedication is remarkable. Thanks for a great pick Nancy. I'll think of you and this cake when I'm in Ikea. :) - mary

Tracey said...

Thanks for hosting this week Nancy! I really enjoyed this one - almond extract is one of my favorite flavorings even though I don't really like almonds (weird, I know). I've been busy lately so I appreciated you choosing a super simple recipe this week :)

cindy said...

I love your blog. This recipe has great possibilities.

PheMom said...

Yes, THANK YOU!! My sanity, my tummy and my family all thank you for choosing one this week that didn't involve making a huge mess. :)

BTW, I completely agree, that Tarte Noire is fantastic! I wanted to choose it back when it was my turn to pick the recipe, but since I fell around Passover I felt like I needed to choose something 'Passover friendly'. I can't wait till someone chooses it though.

Your cake looks gorgeous and I really love how relatively 'tall' your cake turned out in the slightly smaller pan. Gorgeous!

mike said...

I think this might top the "favorite TWD recipe" of all. I know it's right up there with me. Great post Nancy - I love the prep photos and setup. You can really tell you enjoyed making and hosting this week's special cake. I'm telling friends to "visit" your blog for the recipe (but also suggesting they buy the book). You skillet cake looks superb - I now have to make version #4 with a skillet!

alvarosa said...

Thanks for sticking to your first intention and chosing this cake! Sometimes, the most plain and straight-forward things are the best (at least when it comes to baking...)

Preparation-pictures are somehow tricky, because there is not much to see - but yours are great, especially the first one with all the ingredients on the plate!

Hope you enjoyed your "big day"!

Lauren said...

Hi Nancy, what a wonderful looking cake!

I've always strayed away from weekly baking groups, because the monthly ones are hard enough for me! So I am very jealous at your dedication to getting far enough to chose the recipe :)

Clivia said...

Thanks for the lovely choice, Nancy! It did indeed taste like a big chewy almond sugar cookie. Perfection!

Audrey said...

Congratulations on having your turn...I knew you would pick something wonderful. I loved this and shared many of the same thoughs about it. It's great to know, just like you are!
Audrey

Amanda said...

Aww Bro is so cute!!

Nancy - this was a marvelous pick, I loved it! It reminded me of a Sour Cherry Almond Cake I made last year (in my post) that I will now have to try in my cast iron skillet to get that fabulous crust! YUM!!

Oh, and I baked mine in a 9.75" skillet, and while it's not as tall as the one in the book - it looks almost as tall as your first pic. Chewy on the inside and crunchy-chewy on the outside. Perfect!

Bellini Valli said...

This is an excellent choice for the group. Nancy. Can't wait to see the apple version:D

dorie said...

As always, a lovely post. Like you, I was surprised that this recipe wasn't chosen earlier, but I'm delighted it was 'saved' for you. I'm so, so happy you liked your pick. So many years later, this continues to be a favorite of mine and a cake I make often -- I hope it will be that way for you and the other TWD bakers.

chocolatechic said...

Fabulous pick, Nancy!

I just loved it.

Cristine said...

Thank you for hosting this week and choosing such a fantastic recipe! I loved this cake!!!

carmencooks said...

Great pick, Nancy! We just loved this. :)

dharmagirl said...

i loved this cake, nancy! thank you for selecting it, and thank you for your engaging blogs, your helpful baking math, and just for being you:)

Pamela said...

Fabulous choice, Nancy. I probably would never have baked this one on my own, but now I know I have found a new and delicious favorite! I skipped the almond extract, but I absolutely loved the lemon flavor in this cake. It was chewy and so, so good! I'm so glad I could bake along with you. :o) Oh, and I love that over-head picture with all of your ingredients! Great work.

Mary Ann said...

Great choice Nancy! We had this at Easter dinner and everyone absolutely loved it and requested that I make it again soon. I am so glad you started baking with TWD-I have enjoyed your blog and you so much!

Karen said...

We love love, loved this pick! :)Great picks and thanks to your daughter for getting the TWD ball rolling around your house!

steph- whisk/spoon said...

i'm so glad you picked this one...i've feel i've been waiting for it for ages! great photos and description. it looks so cute served in the skillet, i'm not sure why anyone who baked it that way would turn it out anyway!

Jules Someone said...

This was an excellent pick. I'll have to go look at the measurements for the 8" cake. It seems almost snack size...

Monica said...

Loved your choice, my family thanks you, my friends thank you and I thank you!

Amy said...

My favorite TWD recipe so far!!! Thanks so much and yours looks delicious!!!

Lady Baker said...

this easily became a fast favorite of mine--not only b/c of the easy prep but because of the amazing outcome!! Thanks Nancy!!! :)

Beryl said...

Beautiful job! I can't wait to make this cake- hopefully this afternoon!

Piggy said...

Thanks for the great pick, I love this cake!

Cute doggy, btw! :-)

The Mortensens said...

I loved this cake! So simple and delicious. Thanks for a great pick!

Barbara said...

Lovely cake! And I think I better break down and buy Dorie's book!

Book groups are willing to test anything...such good sports!

myfamousrecipe said...

Beautiful choice! I loved this cake. I'm impressed that you were able to take a photo before eating a slice. My cakes are always ravaged first, then photographed later. Impulse control is not one of my strong points. Thanks for choosing this one!

CB said...

Love your write up and process pics. You should do them more often! Dog is no excuse. My dog is just outside my kitchen entrance every time but I multitask! HA! I really loved this cake and I never would have baked it without you hosting. I tend to like the "flashier" cakes I guess. ;)
-CB
http://iheartfood4thought.com

Jeannette said...

Well aren't you quite the wonderful hostess? :) Process pictures and everything!! You really did choose the most fitting recipe, and I must thank you for the simplicity! After a busy week, it was a breath of fresh air!! It is easily one of my faves!! I can't wait until I get to host. EEP! It's probably a million light years away ;)

Rachel said...

Great pick this week!! Yummy!

natalia said...

Great choice Nancy ! Thank you for hosting !

JoAnn Freda said...

I was reading my copy of Baking, from My House to Yours and I had my eye on Swedish Visiting Cake. What a happy coincidence that you chose it for TWD for this week. I love how simple it is and that I actually have all the ingredients in the house. Love your photos of the different stages and of course the adorable, sweet face of your new family member Bro.

Flourchild said...

Thank you for hosting this week. My family and I really enjoyed the cake.

Joy said...

Beautiful photos! I love the one with the "swedish color" :), great picture!

Like you wrote, this might not be the flashiest cake, but it is delicious! We loved it - thanks for the great pick!

Jaime said...

thank you so much for allowing me to discover THE easiest last minute entertaining recipe! :) great pick!

and what a cute rescue :)

Marthe said...

Pretty!!! This was a really good pick, thank you so much!! And how great that you've actually baked all the recipes since you've joined, that's quite an achievement!!

Charli said...

This was such a fabulous cake! Thank you for an excellent choice!

vibi said...

Thank you so much Nancy, for I owe you lots of kisses and hugs!

No, no, I'm not coming over to deliver them... I mean, I got lots of kisses and hugs, lots of Ooohs! and Ahhhs! with this one.

Thank you also for giving us a dish washing break and a quick and simple idea to serve when unexpected people come over!

You rock! Oh! Yeah... your cake does too!

Snooky doodle said...

awesome cake!

Katrina said...

Absolutely great pick, Nancy. Thanks so much. Everyone here loved it and it was gone in a flash. I can't always say that about everything I bake! I can't wait to try this again with different flavors, like making lemon the key flavor and the apple version. Thanks, thanks. Love reading your take on the recipes each week.

bexbakes said...

Thanks for choosing this week's recipe, and your dog is adorable! Such a tasty cake.

bakingwiththeboys said...

This one totally surprised. I never would have made it without TWD. But, we loved it. Thanks for the great pick.

Jencrafted said...

Nancy, excellent, excellent, excellent choice! And thanks for the detailed step-by-step instructions and recipe scaling! What wonderful dedication! And your cake looks perfect. Thank You!

spike. said...

So sorry I wasn't able to make this one. I will in time, I've read so many great reviews today!

Amber Marie said...

Thanks for the wonderful pick this week! I agree with you - simple but not boring. The process pictures turned out great.

April said...

Thanks for such a great selection! It's a recipe that'll be added to my rotation. Your photos are great too!

Susan said...

Love the picture with Bro. :) Thanks for a fabulous pick. I almost didn't make this and what a shame that would have been. I loved it and will make it again and again. Love all the photos. :)

Sweet and Savory said...

Nancy, I owe you big time for this cake. It was a snap to make and it turned out to be so good. My hubby got ahold of it and it disappeared.

Fortunately, it is easy enough to make again and again.

Erin@The Sweet Life said...

This was so very good! It looks so simple and, well, unimpressive, but the flavor is wonderful! It was a hit with my family, and it's something I know I'll bake time and time again! Thanks for choosing this one for us!

Engineer Baker said...

All I'd hoped for, and so so so much more. What a fantastic pick, Nancy. Thank you ever so much!

Heather B said...

Thanks for the great pick! It was a big hit with me. Love your pictures!

jillbert said...

Congratulations on picking this week's recipe! I think Dorie's simple recipes are some of her best.

Lisa said...

So glad you stayed true to your original desire!!! This was fantastic!!!!

Mimi said...

Thanks for such a great pick. We really enjoyed this cake. It was gone in under an hour, with the kids begging for another.
Mimi

HanaĆ¢ said...

Your cake looks wonderful. I can't tell the difference between your picture and the one in the book. Great job. I'll have to put this one on my todo list!

Di said...

Love the picture of Bro. =) I'm so glad that JDE told you about this group! It's always so nice baking with you. I finally had a chance to taste the cake, and it's delicious.

Tia said...

thank you for picking something which was so easy and enjoyed by so many. A nice change from all the coconut and chocolate we've been having lately.

Ellie said...

Great pick! I love all the photos and the cake is delicious!

Nickki said...

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You for choosing this recipe Nancy :-)

This was a brilliant pick! I will now make this cake on a regular basis. One of my favourite recipes from the book so far!

Jessica said...

I can't believe I'm just getting around to commenting on your super scrumptious TWD pick. Thanks for picking such a simple and tasty recipe. I love the process pictures -- especially the one with Bro! How funny and cute -- I'm sure he keeps you on your toes in the kitchen.

Anonymous said...

I have made this a hundred times from a neighbor's recipe. She knew not from where it came. It is often a gift I give, not knowing it is a "visiting" cake. How appropriate!

You might be interested in knowing my recipe calls for the pan to be fitted with a generous piece of buttered aluminum foil. Push the foil into the form of the pan and let the excess (as much as you want to rip off roll) hang over. Rub butter on it, pour in batter, bake cake, let pan set 10 minutes or so, lift out foiled cake, and set on cooling rack. The foil can be gently pealed off when cool or used to wrap cooled cake for storage.

Hope this gives you a new way to present the cake.

TeaLady said...

this was a wonderful pick. I'm glad you chose it since it was on my list when I had to decide what to 'assign' everyone.

It was so good it was gone by the time I posted it.

Thanks for the great pics. And thanks for the great pick. ;)

Cathy said...

Great post and awesome pick, Nancy! This is already one of our favorites around here. I am so glad that you stuck with your original pick and didn't get swayed by other, showier, more bowl-intensive recipes. Love your pictures!

claireallison said...

Thanks for hosting this week! You definitely picked a really good recipe. :)

Carla said...

Thanks for picking this delicious cake!! Honestly, I probably wouldn't have baked it on my own. So simple yet so yummy.

Carol Peterman said...

Yes, I loved this cake and appreciated a one bowl and stir recipe this week! Your pictures make me want more cake. I used lavender and pine nuts in mine.

lasinthekitchen said...

Nancy, that was a fabulous choice! Who knew that with a few ingredients you can make such a delicious cake? Thanks so much for the 10" ingredient adjustments too!
Bro looks so sweet!

Jaime said...

i'm a stickler when it comes to grammar and things like compliment vs complement ;) thanks again for a great pick :)

Liz said...

This was an inspired pick! Probably in the top 5 of TWD recipes I've made, and I never, ever expected it to be so awesome. Thank you!

LDH said...

Hello Nancy! You picked a real winner with this recipe. It was a great success for most bakers and enjoyed by everyone. So nice to visit with you and get to know you through TWD!

Kindly, ldh

margot said...

Hi Nancy, thank you for a wonderful selection. Your cake and process photos both look lovely. How cool that your original choice was still left (mine is for now, too, hold my breath for another year or so). I think your detailed notes each week more than make up for not taking more process photos.

Your new family member is adorable! I often take photos upstairs where there is better light and I had trouble making it up past the dog with this cake in my hand.

Jacque said...

Great pick, Nancy! And you get bonus points for picking an easy to throw together (and delish) recipe. Yours look fantastic.

Debinhawaii said...

This cake looks so simple but so very good!

Lynnylu said...

Great pick! I'm glad that after the long wait, no one had made this cake before you chose it for your hosting. Your book group is very lucky to have you as a member! Beautiful cake!

theeclecticconnoisseur said...

Great choice, Nancy! This cake was easy and delicious.

Ingrid said...

That looks wonderful! Totally my kinda cake.

My parents are coming over for dinner tomorrow. I'm going to make this for dessert.
~ingrid

Kayte said...

If that photo of Bro doesn't look like a guilty face, I don't know what does...LOL! I've already been over here to read and gawk at the photos, so now just leaving a comment...thanks for picking this one, definitely a huge hit here with everyone, and definitely my Top Five. Love this whole post, particularly fond of the last photo, however. So cute.

Gourmified said...

This cake was absolutely delicious! Thanks for choosing it for our baking pleasure this week!

Lisa
gourmified.blogspot.com

Mary said...

Great pick. This is definitely one of my all-time favorites. I really appreciate all your baking notes too...they always help me out each week!

farah said...

Nancy what a great pick, it looks so delicious. I really miss baking with twd and hope to be back soon. Not being in my own kitchen with my books and utensils for this long is tough! Again, great job on your cake, i can't wait to try it :)

Anne said...

Oh Nancy the pictures on this post are making me hungry! Yum! I didn't know about the apple version! I've been out with hand surgery and just posting old stuff I have saved up but will have to make this cake. It looks amazing and I love your posts as usual. :)

Jess said...

I can't believe it took me an entire week to get to my commenting - because this is one of my absolute favorite TWD recipes. One of those that makes you grateful for this experience - and for wonderful baking bloggers like you. Thank you, thank you! Your visiting cake, of course, looks fantastic.

Ingrid said...

Hello, again! Just wanted to let you know I made this on Sunday and we loved it.
~ingrid

Donalyn said...

I'm stopping by to invite you to come and check out DessertStalking.com - some of your fellow TWD folks are contributors, and their posts about this cake lead me to your blog. I hope you come and check us out and give us a try - all the info you need is included in our FAQ and Submission Guidelines - hope to see you soon!

tina_bakes said...

Hi Nancy! This comment is a little (a lot!) belated as I had been meaning to leave you a comment after having read your Swedish Visiting Cake post and baked the cake 5 times in 2 weeks!! thank you for selecting the wonderful recipe and sharing it with others like me.

catnap said...

I like that "What?" look on dog's face. Like he wouldn't dream of sampling your cooking when your back was turned. Thanks for recipe. May try adding raspberries as I have a bumper crop right now. Raspberries wait for no one.

Kristen Kemp said...

I made this cake today for my Swedish husband's annual crayfish party. It was a huge hit. The cake was amazing. Thank you.

Margaret said...

This cake is quite good. Crunchy on the edges, soft in the middle. Didn't have any almonds so sprinkled the brown sugar on the top before baking. Now I'm just waiting for someone to come visit...