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March 02, 2007
The water is still crashing over the dam, the rain is still strong and steady and the leak over the stove is still leaking - the roofer said he couldn't get here until Monday (actually, he said he was "swamped" - really) - but I am in a much better mood and all it took was a couple of minutes in the kitchen.
I thought I was going to make muffins and then the Swedish Visiting Cake came to mind (the recipe's in Baking) and I could think of nothing else. The recipe for his cake was given to me by my friend Ingela, who said her mother claimed that you could start making this cake when you saw visitors coming up the drive and have it ready for them as soon as they were settled into your home. And mothers never lie.
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.
Swedish Visiting Cake (adapted 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.
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.
In and Around the House in Connecticut
Lori in PA
| March 4, 2007 1:29 PM
I made this cake recently when a couple of homeschool friends were coming to plan our history co-op for the upcoming semester. It goes so well with cups of tea and talk of Ancient Greece and Rome! Everyone from the two year-old to the forty-somethings enjoyed it very much.
| March 8, 2007 1:43 PM
Dorie, When I saw this entry, I was immediately excited to think this recipe might remind me of breads with cardomom that I've had, but that ingredient was nowhere in sight. Is it wrong of me to associate this spice with Swedish baking? (Btw, your chocolate crackle cookies were a great hit over the holidays.)
| March 8, 2007 1:55 PM
Lori, how great is it to think of a cake that can hold its own with talk of Ancient Greece and Rome.
Kenn, you're absolutely right -- cardomom is a signature spice in Scandinavian baking. I love cardomom and think it could be a really good addition to this cake. Either add a little cardomom (I'd start with 1/4 teaspoon or even a tad less) to the flour or to the sugar when you're rubbing in the zest. I'd keep the vanilla extract, but I might omit the almond extract with the cardomom. When you do it - let me know what you think.
| March 12, 2007 9:23 AM
Dorie, You guilted me into testing this out. Although I have no comparison, I have a feeling the almond flavor goes better with this texture and weight of cake (if that makes sense). I'd prefer the cardomom flavor with a yeast dough (but it is getting raves at my office this morning).
| March 12, 2007 9:31 AM
Kenn, I really didn't mean to "guilt you into testing the cake" -- although it is good to know that my guilt-inducing powers are still intact, since they don't seem to work on my son any more. I'm surprised the cardamom wasn't perfect with the cake, but glad to know that it's still being gobbled up at the office.
| March 13, 2007 10:58 PM
You've probably never kept the leftovers of an uneaten cake around long enough to experience this, but this cake definitely improves with age. The two-day old piece I just ate was the best of its three nightly tastings. Denser and a just a little bit chewy ("aged, as it was, on a foil-covered plate atop the fridge), the texture was perfect with a cup of coffee. Willpower is not getting up right now to make another one!
| March 18, 2007 11:20 AM
My sister made this cake today for a dinner party,and it was everyone's favorite! There were 3 other desserts on the table but they were left practically untouched. What a simple yet delightful cake!
| March 18, 2007 11:39 AM
Isn't it remarkable when something so simple can be so good! I'm so grateful to my friend Ingela for bringing me both the cake AND the recipe!
| March 18, 2007 12:09 PM
Am Christine's sister who made this cake which was a hit at our dinner party. It has such a lovely texture and taste. My husband and 5 kids just loved it. And they came running to the kitchen when I opened the oven, the aroma is heavenly. Defintiely, this will be a staple dessert at home. The best part is it's simplicity.
| March 23, 2007 1:26 PM
Can you bake this cake in a different pan?
| March 23, 2007 1:29 PM
Maria, the cake can be baked in a regular 9-inch cake pan or in a pie pan -- just make sure to butter the pan well.
| April 18, 2007 6:27 PM
Hi Dorie - I just got your "Baking- From my Home to Yours" Book and the first thing I made was the Swedish Visiting Cake. I used a 9" dark metal pan that is on the heavy side since I don't have a cast iron pan. I started to think I was missing a leavening ingredient when the cake came out a bit lower than that in the photo(mine was about 1" or so in height). And after cooling it really collapsed to, as best as I can describe, a thin (approx. 1/2") chewy, but moist bar-type "cookie." The taste was EXCELLENT and the product was quite addictive. I made it twice with the same results. But I cannot help but think I did something wrong, or am missing an ingredient. The only things that I can imagine are making it rise are the eggs and the salt. There is no baking powder or soda. Any tips???
| April 18, 2007 6:41 PM
Hi Deborah -- I'm absolutely flummoxed by what happened with your cake. I've never heard of it collapsing before. Remarkably, the cake does not have leavening, it depends on the beaten eggs and the water in the butter for its height, which, as you can see in the photo, is not considerable. The only thing I can think of is that you might have over beaten the batter at the points at which you added the flour and folded in the melted butter. While, as with all cakes, you want to beat the eggs, you don't want to over do it when you add the flour -- simply stir it in gently. I really can't figure out what might have happened.
Does anyone else out there who's made this cake have a conjecture?
| June 13, 2007 2:57 PM
I love your book and this cake is the first thing I've made. I was out of almonds and being the chocoholic that I am I sprinkled small chocolate chips on top. Having added the chocolate chips, I also substituted a 1/2 tsp of coconut extract for the almond and it was delicious. I am anxious to try the original recipe, I know it will be equally wonderful. Thanks for the wonderful recipes!
| June 13, 2007 3:11 PM
jjob -- what a great idea to top the cake with chocolate chips and to add coconut extract. I bet the coconut was good in the cake. I made the cake over the weekend and sprinkled raw brown sugar over the top and really liked the little crunch it gave it.
| August 27, 2007 11:47 AM
I was very disappointed in my Swedish Visiting Cake, sorry to say. I wondered at the lack of leavening, not even beaten egg whites, but stayed faithful to the recipe. Just as I was about to pour the batter into my 9-in pan I realized how little of it there was (only 1 C flour!), but again followed directions. It came out as flat as a pancake, a little higher around the edges. Delicious, but not what I'd hoped. Anyone have a similar experience?
| November 28, 2007 12:48 PM
Hello! Just wanted to tell you that I made your Swedish Visiting Cake a while back and even at my first attempt, it came out "perfect." It has now been a hit at work, home and at gatherings. Thank you so much for this delicious (and easy) recipe. Have a wonderful day!
| November 30, 2007 7:11 PM
Oh my Goodness, thank you so much for posting this cake recipe. This cake brings back so many wonderful memories. I remember this cake from my youth, my mother used to make this cake all the time. The recipe was lost when she passed and since I didn't know the name of the cake, I've been unsuccessfully searching for it for years.
| November 30, 2007 7:31 PM
Jeannie, I got goosebumps when I read your comment - I am thrilled that you have this recipe. I hope it will make you and everyone you share it with happy.
Tulipflowers - it's great to hear that you're making this recipe often and that everyone loves it. I think it's a remarkable recipe - so easy and sooooooo good.
Margo Marie, Colorado
| December 23, 2007 1:39 PM
When I made this cake it also did not rise but had a great flavor. I also live in a high altitude area. Could this be the reason for it not rising? Do you have high altitude directions for this recipe?
Ju (The Little Teochew)
| May 30, 2010 5:49 AM
Hi Dorie, I made this incredibly easy but utterly delicious cake. I used my muffin tins and made cute mini ones. :) Thank you for sharing with us Ingela's wonderful recipe!
| July 7, 2010 12:42 PM
This was so delicious!
| November 30, 2010 5:11 PM
Hi Dorie, greetings from Russia :) Thank you so much for this recipe! The cake looks and tastes really good and ... very homy :)) Mmm...
PS Having read all the comments here, I decided to add 1/2 tsp baking powder to the batter. Just to be on the safe side.
| January 5, 2011 5:29 PM
I am literally eating your lovely cake as I write to you. I can not believe how easy it is - I really had my doubts about the absence of baking powder! But it is just perfect. PERFECT! I am linking to the recipe later today, but I just had to drop by and say thank you!
| July 14, 2011 7:10 AM
I live at about 4,000 feet in the Himalayas & just made this lovely cake! I used mayonnaise instead of butter & omitted the salt (the butter here is from water buffaloes & tastes a bit gamey - I thought the mayo had salt enough already) & the cake turned out perfectly! I did have to bake the cake for 40 minutes instead of 30 but that's to be expected at high altitudes. I'm buying your book first thing when I get back to the US!
(that means 'thank you' in Nepali)
| December 5, 2011 6:41 PM
I LOVE your work. This is a fantastic cake. I've made it several times and mentioned it on my new food blog. The cake was incredibly easy to make and really delicious. I'm currently studying abroad in Munich, Germany and the cake turned out nicely with ingredients available here. I have a very limited kitchen in my apartment here and actually do my baking in a toaster oven! Turned out perfectly!
Danke schÃ¶n, Dorie!
replied to comment from Morgan
| December 5, 2011 8:04 PM
Morgan- Thanks so much for your sweet comments. I am glad you are a fan of the Swedish Visiting Cake and I am very impressed that you are baking it in a toaster oven! Good luck with your studies.
| January 29, 2012 4:25 PM
True story: Every time I make this cake, someone asks for the recipe. Seriously, this cake bats 1.000, which is lovely for such a straight-forward preparation. In fact (and the reason why I'm finally commenting), my darling aunt just called me wondering if I'd share it, and of course I was delighted to send her the link. And now I know what cookbook to give her for for Christmas. Tack sÃ¥ mycket, Dorie!
replied to comment from Michele
| January 29, 2012 7:40 PM
Michele- I love this anecdote and am thrilled that you have had such success with the swedish visiting cake.
| June 11, 2012 6:49 PM
More success, even with a few substitutions (which is one of the reasons I love this recipe -- it's so flexible).
1. I didn't have any lemons or white flour (shame on me), so I used orange peel instead and 3/4 cup whole wheat flour and 1/4 cup corn flour.
2. Also, because it's the season here in the Pacific Northwest, I swirled in some strawberry-rhubarb jam at the end.
3. Finally, one of my friends is lactose-intolerant so I've been using a blend of melted beef suet, bacon fat, and canola oil instead of butter for some of my baked goods. Said blend worked for this recipe just fine.
Baked the batter in mini-cupcake tins. Delicious and adorable.
replied to comment from Michele
| June 12, 2012 9:58 AM
Michele- I am so glad you enjoyed this recipe. I love when people write in and tell me about successful substitutions. Enjoy the rest of strawberry-rhubarb jam season!
| July 28, 2012 5:03 AM
Thank you for this gorgous recipe which has been a real hit with people I have served it to. The addition of a rounded cup of blueberries added a new dimension - blueberries and almond flavour go together exceptionally well.
replied to comment from Caz
| July 30, 2012 9:31 PM
Caz- I am so glad you are enjoying this recipe. Blueberries are a great addition!
| August 21, 2012 11:08 PM
What a wonderful, easy recipe! My cake turned out really well. Thank you.
replied to comment from Fun
| August 22, 2012 9:16 PM
I am so happy to hear you enjoyed it!
| November 28, 2012 6:09 PM
It's the first time that I will make this cake. I want to make it for a birthday party. I'm afraid that the cake will not rise properly. Would it be ok if I use a little baking powder to make sure it rises? Would that affect the texture and taste of the cake?
| November 28, 2012 6:10 PM
I'm so sorry, I don't know why I called you Julie. :(
replied to comment from Khoa
| November 29, 2012 8:18 PM
Khoa- I am thrilled you are going to make this cake for a birthday party. The cake is not meant to be particularly tall and doesn't really need the addition of baking powder. Happy Birthday to the lucky cake recipient.
| May 31, 2013 9:48 AM
Hi Dorie! I absolutely love your recipes. I made this cake last night and it was amazing. I substituted 1/3 of the flour for almond meal. It was so delicate and flavorful. We could have easily eaten the entire thing. Thank you so much for always inspiring!
replied to comment from Amanda
| June 2, 2013 8:23 PM
Amanda- I am thrilled you loved the Swedish Visiting Cake and had good luck substituting some of the flour for almond meal.
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