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!
8 months ago