Today is the birthday of my baking idol Dorie Greenspan. I simply adore her cookbooks. Her recipes are never too sweet and often consist of traditional treats with a modern twist. Her writing style makes you feel as if she is an old friend who has just happened to drop by to help you bake. I have loved just about everything I have made from one of her cookbooks and Paul is absolutely in love with her because she brought these cookies into our lives.
In honor of Dorie's birthday, I am sharing her recipe for Swedish Visiting Cake. This is one of the easiest cakes you can throw together on the fly - perfect when you need a sweet treat to pair with a warm cup of coffee or tea. For being so simple (the recipe only includes a handful of ingredients and is mixed together in a single bowl), the flavor is delicate and sophisticated. The crumb is simply lovely with a nice crunchy crust on the top and sides created by the caramelization of the sugar while baking. I love it. Then again, it is really hard for me to resist anything flavored with both lemon and almonds.
Happy Birthday, Dorie!
Swedish Visiting Cake
adapted slightly from Baking: From My Home to Yours
Note: I insist that you bake this in a cast iron skillet should you own one. It helps the cake develop an delightfully addictive crust and crumb.
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 cup all-purpose flour
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4-1/3 cup sliced almonds
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. If you do not have a cast iron pan, you can use a 9-inch cake pan or pie plate.
In a medium bowl, 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 vanilla. 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 25-30 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.