Spring. My backyard has gone from yellow to pink to white (or, daffodils to plum and apple blossoms). Each afternoon over 60° has me longing to get outside, in the sunshine, with a glass of white wine in my hand. Preferably, with my husband or a girlfriend by my side and my dogs at my feet. This season brings with it a jovial state of mind. And with that comes the desire to be amongst friends, sharing in the pleasantness of open windows and the greenish light of sunbeams passing through new growth.
I believe it is imperative for every person to have a quick and simple cake in their repertoire. One that, when invited over for a last-minute afternoon visit, or next-day weekend brunch, is easy to whip up using ingredients always on hand. I have a few, but I think that this Swedish Visiting Cake is my very favorite. Not too sweet, but with a substantial, moist crumb, it can pass for either dessert or a morning coffee cake. I adore the crunch of almonds atop the dense base, and the way the edge and bottom of the cake crisp to create a shell that keeps it all together. You know, just in case you choose to pick up an entire slice between your thumb and forefinger. No need to dirty a dish if you're sitting outside and your other hand is occupied with a glass...
I found this recipe last year on Melanger, and it is not surprising that after making it once it has remained at the top of my list. Julia's taste in baked goods is steady; never too rich, most often simple and leaning towards rustic, always comforting. If you haven't yet, you should visit her lovely site.
Swedish Visiting Cake
I realized this time, after I'd already prepared the pan and staged the table for photographs, that I was out of vanilla extract. So, I used a full teaspoon of almond extract instead. The cake is delicious both ways.
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more to grease pan
- 1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
- zest from 1 lemon
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat oven to 350°. Butter a seasoned 9-inch cast iron pan. (If you don't have a cast iron pan, a 9-inch cake pan works as well).
- Pour sugar into a medium bowl and add lemon zest. Use your fingers to rub the zest into the sugar, until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking to combine.
- Add the salt and extracts and whisk to combine.
- Stir in the flour using a rubber spatula.
- Fold in the melted butter.
- Pour batter into your prepared pan and smooth top with rubber spatula. Sprinkle almonds over the top of the batter and finish with a sprinkle of sugar.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until the edges are golden brown and starting to pull away from the edge of the pan.