Shavuot just ended. Last year, in the spirit of the dairy tradition of this holiday, I made a cheese tart. In addition, I taught a dance/movement class for a tikkun leyl Shavout — an all-night learning session to commemorate the giving and receiving the torah. A dance class as part of Jewish learning?, you might ask. Well, it’s just one of my things and the cooking class I had planned didn’t work out.
Having a pantry filled with almonds — natural, sliced, slivered, roasted and salted, and crushed into meal — and a serious craving for all things amandine, I flipped through my cookbooks and found Dorie Greenspan‘s Swedish Visiting Cake. I’ve heard it described as tasting like a large almond macaroon. Yes, I meant to say macaroon rather than macaron — the consistency is somewhere between a cookie and a cake (at least the way I made it), similar to a chewy macaroon (and not the coconut kind). Anyway, it seemed worth a shot and the name alone made it sound like a good gift to offer friends.
I didn’t stay up learning all night, so I managed to bake the cake in the morning. The cake itself barely rose at all – not surprising as the only leavening agent was eggs. As I set it to cool, I decided to read a little bit in bed, and, you guessed it — fell asleep. Lucky that I waited to take the cake out of the oven before cozying up under my duvet as the rain pelted outside. 2 hours later and I had missed lunch. Despite having my cake, I just couldn’t bear to be that fashionably late.
So, I did what any of you would do – I cut a slice and ate it myself. Not bad, but it would have been nicer to share.
Swedish Visiting Cake (variation)
adapted from Dorie Greenspan.
The batter for this cake is very thick. I lost some of the almond flavor when I realized that I didn’t have almond extract and substituted orange blossom water which complements almonds. I think next time I might replace some of the flour with almond meal. Even though I neglected to share this with my barbecuing friends, I did treat a visiting friend to a slice with some red wine.
- 1/2 C butter or margarine
- 1 C sugar
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 t salt
- 1 t orange blossom water
- 1 C flour
- 1/4 C sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 350°.
Make batter. Mix sugar and zest until sugar is fragrant and moistened by the oils in the zest. Beat in eggs one at a time along with orange blossom water. Then, use a spatula to fold in the flour. Finally, add the melted butter/margarine and incorporate into the batter.
Bake cake. Grease and sugar a springform pan and pour the batter in. Since it is so thick, you’ll need to smooth it out so it spreads evenly. Sprinkle sliced almonds and a little extra sugar on top. Place pan on a cookie sheet (the original recipe calls for baking the cake in a skillet, so the sheet adds a bit of extra thickness). Bake 25-30 minutes (I would err on the side of less time).
Cool and serve.