Dorie Greenspan is awesome. I’d never heard of her before, but I’m certainly going to be checking out more of her recipes after having tried this one. I looked her up (she has a website)- apparently she once burned down her parents’ kitchen (she was 13) and was working towards her doctorate in gerontology before switching gears and becoming a food writer. Her book Baking From My Home to Yours is now on my wishlist. She says, “Bakingwas about my long-running love affair with pastry.” Sounds like my kind of cookbook.
This recipe teaches you two new techniques (since ACC is supposed to be a cookbook for beginners): Roasting nuts and folding (not laundry). I’m familiar with both of these (my mom taught me years ago) so it wasn’t a big deal for me. But it did come in handy when I had to teach my sister how to fold. How did my sister miss the folding lesson from our mom? I think I just bothered Mom enough so she’d teach me. My sister isn’t into baking like I am, so she never ran into that in a recipe that required folding and never needed to learn.
This is called “Visiting Cake” because, as Dorie Greenspan says in ACC, “you could start making the cake when you saw the guests coming up the road and it would be ready by the time they settled down for coffee.” They must be able to see really far in Sweden. Further than me, anyway (though I am quite blind without my glasses or contacts on).
This was a very simple recipe. So maybe it’s possible to make it and have it ready in time for coffee with friends- if you chat a bit first. I read the recipe, got all my ingredients together, got out my mixer… and promptly put it away. Despite reading the recipe, I forgot that a mixer isn’t necessary! I’m so used to using it, I was on autopilot. I think my mom, who bought me the mixer, is happy that I’m using it so much.
So I made the cake without a mixer (I was kind of sad about it, I’m not going to lie- I’ve gotten attached!). I wish I had a picture of the lemon-zest-and-sugar mixture, I really liked that despite my dislike for zest.
If you’d like the recipe, you can find it on Dorie’s website, here. MG doubles the amount of almonds and toasts them in the oven. She also suggests only 1 teaspoon sugar for sprinkling while Dorie just says “a little extra” (which I like better, because I used more than a teaspoon).
I really didn’t know what to expect with this cake. I haven’t been particularly wowed by any of the cakes I’ve made from ACC. Sure they’ve been good, but I wanted something fantastic. This flat little cake with it’s lemon zest and almond extract didn’t look like the winner I was hoping for.
This was a cake I took to work. When I got there, I put the cake out for coworkers to see and sent out a company email about it. No one was really in the office yet, though, and I was dying to know if it would taste ok. I was really afraid this would be a flop. It was so thin and unlike anything I’d ever made. I didn’t want to give my coworkers a sub-par cake, so I took a small slice and ate it with my coffee.
Looks are deceiving. This is by far the best cake I’ve made out of All Cakes Considered. Dorie Greenspan is my new hero. I love this cake. I tend to think cake should be taller and have chocolate, but I admit that I am wrong- this cake is awesome. It was almondy with a touch of lemon. A little crispy on the outside, but moist inside. I think there were too many almonds on top, so I’d stick with Dorie’s suggestion of 1/4 cup instead of MG’s 1/2.
The cake was half gone by 9:30am, and most of my coworkers arrive at 9. People really liked it! I got a number of compliments- more than any of the other cakes got. By 11am there was only 1 slice left. Someone asked about the almond flavor- was there marzipan in it? (No). No one wanted the last slice- they kept doing the “take half” thing. At 11:20, the cake was gone (I took the last little sliver to give to my mom, who asked for a slice).
One person said he liked the coffee cake better, but in general the reaction to this cake was better than the others. I felt like this was how people shouldbe reacting to the cakes! I was very pleased with the outcome and I hope that other cakes are similarly good. I’m definitely making this cake again!