10/26/08 – Photo added, and see the sidebar at right for info on SHF. Thanks!
Thank you all for your contributions to this month's Sugar High Friday – I am truly overwhelmed by the number of entries and the creativity of your creations. I am currently organizing them all and I'll try to respond to all of you sometime this weekend so you know I received your entry. Don't forget for those of you who haven't submitted yet, there's still time! The last day for submissions is Monday, October 27th, and the round-up will be on October 31st – although judging by all the entries so far, I might have to break it into several parts. I'm overjoyed to see all this fabulous baking going on out there!
By the way, I also wanted to thank all my readers for continuing to support Dessert First. There are so many things I've been wanting to do on this site and haven't gotten to yet - I guess it's time for a few more updates on what I've been doing instead, isn't it?
First, the official publication date for Field Guide to Cookies is rapidly approaching – Nov. 19th. However, I've gotten reports that the book has already started showing up in stores, and I got to confirm this last week at my local Borders! If you do see the book at bookstores, post a comment here and let me know! I also have some other events in the works in November for the official release, so stay tuned!
Second, the other big thing that's been keeping me away from this blog is that I've just signed on to do my second book! I'm working with the same publisher I did Field Guide to Cookies with, and I'm super excited – and super busy doing research! As before, the topic is going to be a secret for a while, but if you keep a watch out on the entries and recipes I'm going to do for the rest of the year, you might get a hint as to what it'll be about:)
In the midst of all this excitement, I realized I miss just baking. I miss waking up and having the whole day in front of me, to ponder all the possibilities and permutations, to go to the market and look at what's available and let my mind meander over various muses and motives. I miss being in the kitchen, stirring eggs and sugar and flour together, filling pans with batter, and popping them in the oven, and waiting for the kitchen to fill with the scent of something delicious.
I managed to scrounge a few free hours together yesterday, and I found the perfect recipe to scratch the baking itch: Dorie Greenspan's Swedish Visiting Cake from her Baking: From My Home to Yours book. It is a supremely simple, one-bowl recipe that yields a satisfyingly golden, fluffy cake in less than an hour. It can be baked in a skillet, which makes for a wonderfully homey, run-next-door-and-invite-your-neighbor-to-share presentation, as the name of the cake implies. And best of all, it doesn't require a mixer, which means you get to stand there and whisk all the ingredients together into a smooth, shiny golden batter. Sometimes it's really gratifying to go back to the roots of baking and remember how rewarding it is to put something together all by hand.
The cake is flavored with almond and vanilla, but I added in a bit of cardamon, which I thought was appropriate since the spice is popular in many Swedish recipes. It gives the fairly mild cake a little whiff of the exotic, and also lets it fit in nicely with my SHF Spices theme. I also really love how the almonds and sugar on top give it that lovely thin crackly crust, which gives way to the moist cake below. You can serve it warm or at room temperature but I really like it warm, with perhaps a little drizzle of honey over the top.
It's been so amazing to see where my love of baking has taken me, but in the end baking will always be my first love, and what makes me happiest. Whether you love to bake or love to eat baked goods, I hope you all get a little sweetness in your weekend! Come back next week for my Daring Bakers entry, and, of course, the SHF round-up!
Swedish Visiting Cake
adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-in ovenproof skillet or a 9-in cake pan.
Combine sugar and eggs in a large bowl and whisk together until combined.
Add the two extracts and whisk until combined.
Add the flour and cardamon and fold in with a rubber spatula until fully combined.
Add the butter and fold in with the spatula until the butter is fully incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared skillet. Sprinkle the sliced almonds and some extra sugar on top.
Bake for about 25-30 minutes until the top is golden and the top is dry to the touch.
Let cool on wire rack for about 5 minutes before running a knife around the edges to loosen it before serving.