So, this cake. I made this cake for my boss and his family. His wife is currently going through chemo treatment (they expect her to make a full recovery) and a bunch of us in the office decided to put together a care package of food for them after her latest round. Not only was I happy to do this for my wonderful boss, but it allowed me to do my favorite type of baking - bake and release, as Dorie Greenspan calls it.

The only instruction I was given was to make something apple. I did not really have any idea what I wanted to make, except that I knew I didn’t want to mess around with pie or anything that required rolling out dough. After a food blog search I found a recipe on Serious Eats that was a modified version of Dorie Greenspan’s Swedish Visiting Cake with apples. Perfect. I printed this recipe at work and left it on the printer. It did me a lot of good there.

Since I am sometimes super lazy about the dumbest things, I decided to just use Dorie’s recipe in Baking: From My Home to Yours and add sliced apples, instead of searching and reprinting the recipe at home. Whatever. Don’t judge me.

Here is what Dorie has to say about this cake, because, who am I kidding here, I cannot say it better myself…

“This cake is thin and light with a golden sugar crust and an interior that is soft, chewy, moist and reminiscent of cakes made with almond paste. Although it is amply satisfying in its plainness, I upped the flavor just a little by adding vanilla and almond extract.”

Seriously, this cake could not have been easier to make. The batter comes together literally in minutes, in one bowl, no mixer needed, no waiting for things to come to room temperature. The makings of a recipe I like. Dorie calls for this to be baked in a 9 inch cast iron skillet. Problem: I do not own said 9 inch cast iron skillet. Solution: I own cake pans or I own 10 inch cast iron skillet.

I went with solution “I own cake pans", for no particular reason. Next time, I will try solution “I own 10 inch cast iron skillet". BECAUSE - this mother f’ing cake took FORever to bake. Okay, not forever, but like double the time the recipe called for. That becomes a problem when I am trying to fit this cake in after making dinner and before getting to the gym. I suspect part of the problem was that the cake pan I used was too small and maybe the addition of the sliced apples threw this cake for a loop. It just couldn’t handle being baked with apples, it didn’t know what to do with itself.

Truth be told, I made this cake twice. The first cake was a real hot mess. It was in the oven at 350F in an approx. 8.5 inch cake pan for an hour and was still totally raw in the middle. I had to abandon this cake and leave it in the good(?) hands of Nick while I went to the gym. My instructions were “take the cake out when it is not wet in the middle and don’t ruin it". Yeah. I came home to an undercooked cake which was sitting inside a turned off oven. Huh? Okay, let’s not even go there.

Let’s make a long story short and say that after some stomping, pouting, and removal of cake from pan and into garbage, a second cake was made.

This time I wised up and used a larger 9.5 inch cake pan. This worked out much better in that after an hour of baking, I had a cake that I could actually give to someone. A cake that was actually the consistency of cake and not cold lumpy gravy. Still, this second cake baked for double the 25-30 minutes Dorie calls for AND about 20 minute in when I saw it was not even close to done I turned the heat up to 375F. I am perplexed.

The silver lining in this Swedish cake saga is that at least I got to taste cake #1 a.k.a hot mess. There were some edge pieces that were acceptable to eat, and they were freaking delicious.

Cake #2 came out looking fabulous, way better than it’s deformed hot mess of a sister. It was totally cooked through and nicely golden brown (I loosely covered it with foil near the end). The top became a puffy sugary crust that sparkled with sugar but the inside was still all moist and cake like and the apples got nice and soft.

I will for sure be making this again for my own consumption. Maybe with apples or maybe not. I would like to try it without apples to see if they were the culprit of my baking time issues. The more I think about it, the more likely that seems.

The recipe that is posted after the jump is Dorie’s original recipe from the book. The cake that I baked was modified. This pretty much entailed not adding almonds, and adding sliced apples of the Pink Lady variety instead. I know, I’m a visionary, you don’t have to tell me.

Follow up:


Swedish Visiting Cake
Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
page 197
makes 8 - 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar, plus a little more for sprinkling
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I used 2)
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • about 1/4 cup sliced almonds (blanched or not) OR 1 sliced apple

Directions

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350F (if you are using apples, consider baking it at 375F). Butter a seasoned 9 inch cast iron skillet or other heavy ovenproof skillet, a 9 inch round cake pan or even a pie pan.
  2. Pour the sugar into a medium bowl. Add the lemon zest and blend the zest into the sugar with your fingers until the sugar is moist and aromatic. Whisk in the eggs one at a time until well blended. Whisk in the salt and the extracts. Switch to a rubber spatula and stir in the flour. Finally, fold in the melted butter.
  3. Scrape the batter into the skillet and smooth the top with the rubber spatula. Scatter the sliced almonds over the top or arrange your apple slices in a pattern of your choosing, and sprinkle with a little sugar. If you’re using a cake or pie pan, place the pan on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake the cake for 25-30 minutes, or until it is golden and a little crisp on the outside; the inside will remain moist, even, as Ingela says, “slightly damp". (For me this took closer to 60 minutes). Remove the skillet from the oven and let the cake cool for 5 minutes, then run a think 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.

Storing: The cake is an excellent keeper. Well wrapped, it will keep for about 5 days at room temperature or for up to 2 months in the freezer.