Tuesday, April 13, 2010

TWD: Swedish Visiting Cake

I'm twenty months into (mostly) weekly baking and blogging, and, much as I enjoy it, it can get a little tiring at times. Every once in a while we just get sweeted out around here, plain and simple, and the thought of baking another cake seems outrageous. Giving the goodies away sounds good in theory, but unless you're friends with the high school swim team (know anyone, Kayte?), even my most enthusiastic sweets recipients experience dessert fatigue after a while. Plus, it seems like everyone is watching some combination of sugar/fat/calories/carbs, while I'm a big proponent of "everything in moderation" myself, I certainly don't want to be the evil temptress sabotaging anyone's dietary efforts by showing up at their door with a bundt cake. Then there is the blogging part -- while I suppose it's not technically necessary to come up with new ways to say "I liked the cookies!" every week, if one is inclined to do so, well, that gets difficult after a while. New adjectives really need to be invented to do Dorie's desserts justice, but until then, some of us will stare at the computer and think: "this tart was fabulous. No, I already said the crust was fabulous. Maybe, this tart was most excellent! No, too Wayne and Garth. This tart was superb?"

But one aspect of blogging with Tuesdays with Dorie that has never gotten tiring for me is getting to know many great people, including Nancy of The Dogs Eat the Crumbs, who chose this week's recipe. Nancy and I realized early on that we share an alma mater (wahoowa!!), we're both born and raised Northerners living in the Southeast, and we both have husbands who don't eat chocolate. Clearly we were destined to be blog friends. Nancy's blog is wonderful (fabulous? superb? -- All of the above). Her posts are consistently detailed, informative and fun, and her pictures are beautiful. And wow, can she ever pick recipes!

Nancy chose the Swedish Visiting Cake, which Dorie tells us was traditionally brought by Swedish women when they visited one another. The cake is supposedly so quick to make that you could start making it when you see guests coming up the road, and it will be done by the time they arrive at your door.

We were not expecting any Swedish visitors this month (other than a Hanna Andersson package or two), so I decided to try the cake out on a Missourian visitor, a North Carolinian visitor, and a couple of Alabamian visitors. Also, I kind of cheated and made the cake early in the day that I knew our visitors were coming, rather than waiting until I actually saw them coming up the road. So I didn't really test "up the road/cake ready" speed claim.

No doubt this is a fast cake to make, though. And it's all made in one bowl! Rub lemon zest into sugar (a great Dorie trick - really brings out the lemon flavor); whisk in eggs, salt and vanilla and almond extract. (As an aside, Dorie says that the extracts are optional, but I feel like the almond extract makes this cake, and I will definitely use it every time). Mix in the flour, then fold in a stick of melted and cooled butter. And that's it! Impossibly quick and easy! Bake it in a 9" cast iron skillet for 25 or 30 minutes.



The first time I made this, I was a little worried it was going to be too thin. There is no leavener in the cake, so it wasn't going to rise much. And it is a thin cake. But once I tasted it, all worries flew out the window. This is an AMAZING cake! It's sweet but not overwhelmingly so, with an irresistible almond flavor. I think the texture is almost a combination of a cake and a blondie. It has a little chew to it, kind of like a blondie, but it also has a softness and a moistness that is more cakeish. David (who also loved the cake) told me not once, not twice, but at least three times over the course of two of these cakes that the texture reminded him of cornbread. And as I told him, that kind of remark makes me reluctant to ask him what he thinks about these desserts ever again, because this is NOTHING like cornbread. Cornbread is dry and crumbly and this cake is neither. I THINK what he was trying to get at was the cake was dense like cornbread, as opposed to being a light and airy cake? In any event, we may not agree about how best to describe the texture, but we both agree that this cake is incredible. Our visitors seemed to love it as well.

This is one of my favorite TWD recipes yet. It's delicious; it works as a dessert or as a snack cake; and it is insanely quick and easy to make. I won't just say I'll make this again and again -- I already HAVE made this again and again (and I'll continue to). Our first visitors (Missouri and Missouri-via-North Carolina) liked this so much that I made it again for the second wave of visitors (Alabama). It's a safe bet that any regular visitors to this house will have this cake sooner or later. Thanks Nancy for the great pick!

40 comments:

Nancy/n.o.e said...

I'm sorry that you used so many of your store of great adjectives and descriptive phrases to describe this cake, but I agree that all of the praise is well-deserved. I've already made this cake again, and given how easy and delightful it is, I'm thinking this might become a signature welcoming treat around here. That is, when we're not on some diet with weird restrictions! Thanks for baking with me (on this and many other recipes!) Wahoowah!

alvarosa said...

Great (wonderful? very-true? superb?) entry! I'm with you for the "what to say about this recipe"-problem (even after a much shorter done-that-list) - and for your description and appraisal of the cake!

mike said...

Your cake looks fantastic.

* pause . . . . . . . *
It's 1am... I'm out of adjectives at this point, but your photography is fabuloso (my new word of the day). It makes me think of morning sunshine. I think this cake is some of cult recipe or something. It will soon take over the country (just like Sweden). And with 3 comments from David it's no wonder that you've done a wonder-ful job!

Audrey said...

You forgot to mention whether you started baking this as your visitors were walking up the driveway! I think the trick will be to give the recipe to all those appreciative visitors so they'll be able to make it for US when we visit them. :)

Wasn't it good? I had to look at the recipe two or three times because I was sure the leavening was right there in black and white and I wasn't seeing it (that, or a typo...nothing in the ingredients list but a sly mention of baking powder in the directions!) But even though it didn't rise it had great texture.

Yay for Nancy!

Cristine said...

This cake was wonderful! Yours looks great!

chocolatechic said...

I didn't use almond flavoring.

I just doubled my vanilla.

soooooo good!

Pamela said...

No matter what adjectives you choose to use in writing your posts, I know I will be reading with a smile on my face! The cake was a winner, for sure. I didn't add any almond extract, but next time around I will be sure to give it a whirl.

cindy said...

Great post! I think you hit the problem I had!! You mentioned it was somewhat like a 'blondie', I cannot make a decent blondie to save me. They cook fine but somehow turn gooey and greasy in the middle. That's what happened to my visiting cake! I blame it on my altitude. Thanks for the insight. Yours looks amazing.

Beth said...

Great job!! Wonderful pics, too.

CB said...

Blondie! Exactly! I knew it tasted like something that I've had before but I couldn't think of it. Whew. Thanks for saving my sanity. I'll join your adjective revolution. I probably say "great, awesome, fabulous" about 100x every Tuesday. Hopefully it doesn't lose it's meaning. Your cake looks... Arrrghh! I choked under the pressure.
-CB
http://iheartfood4thought.com

Jeannette said...

I'm starting to think that my coworkers are weird, they are never on dietary restrictions OR sweeted-out. Maybe I'm just blessed?

Your cake looks delish!

Marthe said...

Somehow my coworkers never tire of me bringing baked goods into work with me.... On the contrary: they get cheeky with me if I don't bring something into work with me for some time!!

This was received very well, both at work and at my parents'!

Tracey said...

I can so relate Cathy - some days I can't find the words to write nor the mouths to feed :) Luckily, my mom was happy to take this delicious cake off of my hands before I went overboard with it! Yours look awesome and I'm glad it was such a big hit with your family and the visitors too!

Mary Ann said...

I couldn't agree with you more about everything- the overdose of sweets, the lack of new words, not enough people to pawn dessert off on, and that this cake was deliciously wonderful.
I love that your husband compared it to cornbread- kinda made me laugh.
I love your blog. It makes me smile.

bakingwiththeboys said...

I am - and have been for awhile - completely out of adjectives, metaphors, similes, creativity. I am running on fumes.
You know, I think Will thought it was cornbread because he didn't ask for any. It looked a little like cornbread but did not taste like it.

Flourchild said...

Your cake looks so good and how sweet of you to share..I too get tired of all the sweets and sugars..I have really cut back on baking. Im glad you enjoyed this recipe. I enjoyed reading your post, you always make me smile!

Karen said...

We do need many many more adjectives for these desserts, don't we? :) It is funny that your husband compared this to cornbread because I made cornbread a few days before this and thought the same thing! Not once I tasted it of course but they were made in the same pan. :)

Katrina said...

Well said about describing what to say each week and in talking about Nancy. Good stuff, this one. How's that for eloquent.

Susan said...

Hahaha! Too Wayne and Garth! Funny!

I am an upstate NY gal who ended up in VA married to a southern boy. Only mine likes chocolate. :)

Great looking cake. I loved it.

The Mortensens said...

So true about the blogging. I guess that's why my post are usually really short!

It's funny that your husband thought this cake was like cornbread. When I looked at the picture, I thought it was going to taste like cornbread with almonds on top!

Engineer Baker said...

Oh my, you are so right about dessert overload and blogging fatigue! If you knew how many times I hauled out a thesaurus to write a blog post... :P Your cake looks amazing though! Oh, and I'm joining your Northerners turned Southeasterners club soon - July, I'll be in Chapel Hill!

Lisa said...

I think I'm gonna have to make this cake again after I doled out some small slices to as many friends as possible. They're never satisfied! It's so easy and so good!!!! I know now, why you made it several times!

Debinhawaii said...

You could try a few terms from Hawaii--"ono"--good or delicious, "onolicious"--no one really says that here but what the heck or my personal favorite the pidgin term "broke da mouth" which means it was so delicious it broke your mouth.

Hope those help! ;-)

By the way, I am part Swedish and the cake looks pretty darn ono to me!

Tia said...

it's ono oh-so good! :)

Di said...

Making new friends is definitely the best part about blogging. =) I'm glad to hear that your visitors loved this one so much. So far, I'm the only one here to taste it, and if they don't get some quick, no one else is going to. =)

Maria said...

Making this one soon. Glad you loved it! I am a huge almond fan!

Leslie said...

It's a keeper! Yours looks great (wonderful, delicious, etc.) When I read what Dorie said about starting it when you see them coming down the driveway, I reasoned that the driveways in Sweden must be much longer than they are in California.

lasinthekitchen said...

You're so right on about trying to think of new adjectives to describe the sweets! I use a lot of exclamation points in my comments too and sometimes wonder if people think I'm being insincere...
Your cake looks fabulous! This is one of Dorie's recipes where you can say you'll bake it again and amazingly have the time to repeat one of her recipes!

TeaLady said...

If I just say DITTO can I get away with that as my comment.

Okay, FINE!! DITTO!!!

Liz said...

I know what you mean--I get blogger's block on a regular basis. But at least we have some delicious (scrumptious? yummy? tasty?) desserts to get us through the rough patches.

Nickki said...

I know what you mean about "bloggers block" - it's hard to find new ways of describing how delicious every new recipe tastes!

I also agree with you on the almond extract. I loved this cake, in fact I'm planning on making it again very soon!

Mary said...

The almond flavour was great in this cake--it tasted like marzipan! I am quite new to blogging, and know what you mean about finding things to say. Anyway, your cake looks superb (first time I've used that adjective in blogging) with all those almonds on top!

The Blonde Duck said...

I wish I could join a baking thing, but it's just the two of us and Ben's on an eternal diet, and so is everyone else.

Kayte said...

Definitely Top Five around here as well, which is why I can't make it too often as this is one I would have a difficult time turning down. Your cake looks perfect! I always wanted to order out of those HA catalogs, but Mark said, "NO WAY," as he felt no self-respecting guy, even if he was only 2, should be seen in the Hanna wear. Maybe I will get girl grandbabies...then it's Hanna land I go! Who knows, you might just have a place to dump baked goods in the future if the swimmer ends up at Alabama.

The Food Librarian said...

Isn't Nancy the best? She is quite beloved in the TWD community. Your cake looks great! :) - mary

pinkstripes said...

Yay! I'm glad the cake was a success.

I hear you about dessert fatigue. I'm actually hesitant about bringing in treats to work. I think they are all tired of sweets. Need to figure out a solution fast!

pinkstripes said...

Yay! I'm glad the cake was a success.

I hear you about dessert fatigue. I'm actually hesitant about bringing in treats to work. I think they are all tired of sweets. Need to figure out a solution fast!

Bridgett said...

I understand your loss of creativity when it comes to popping out a blog post sometimes. I feel that way and just let the post sit for a while in the hopes that inspiration will strike. Sometimes we just cook average stuff that really isn't anything new, you know? Your treats are always gorgeous and I love reading what you have to say. Looks like Nancy picked a winner for all of you.

p.s. Sorry for not visiting sooner, but I ADORE your blog design. Super cute!

Jess said...

I also suffer from adjective fatigue. Especially with cakes like this one. It's just...awesome. WICKED awesome. Yours looks great.

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