Swedish visiting cake single

For me, food and travel is inextricably linked.  Travel inspires my food exploration.  Food motivates my travel destination choice.  Some of my fondest memories of traveling revolve around food.  Food tells you so much about a place.  The culture, customs and traditions.  It is so central in defining a location.

I was fascinated by the history and origin of this Swedish Visiting Cake.  This Scandinavian sweet treat comes from Dorie Greenspan.  The recipe was passed on to Dorie by her Swedish friend Ingela Helgesson who said you could start the cake when you saw friends coming down the road and it would be ready by the time they settled in and sat down for coffee.

The key for me was how quick and easy this cake seemed to be.  The hidden gem was the taste.  The cake is light and airy, and with additional texture provided by the roasted flaked almonds, you are offered great crunch to each mouthful.

Mr Mélanger actually selected this cake for Simple Cakes Month.  Flipping through Baking: From my Home to Yours he noticed the photograph, threw his hand down and immediately pointed to the picture exclaiming, “Can you make this?”  We then eyed the recipe title, paused, then laughed.

Being half-Finnish, I figured he has some built in Scandinavian/Nordic food radar.  Or perhaps he recognised the style of cake from his travels through Sweden while living in Finland.  Either way, it was the best selection he could make.

Knowing this was meant to be served with coffee, I had to make one key adaptation of the recipe.  I removed all traces of the vanilla extract and almond extract and replaced with one generous tablespoon of ground cardamom.  Cardamom and coffee is one of the ultimate food combinations around.

Coffee is such a significant part of life in this area of the world.  I can vividly picture friends or family sharing this cake, sipping piping hot coffee and sitting around table tucked away in a cosy Swedish kitchen.

Swedish visiting cake set

{ Swedish Visiting Cake } Recipe by Dorie Greenspan, from Baking: From my Home to Yours

I omitted the vanilla extract and the almond extract.  As a substitute, I added 1 tablespoon of ground cardamom and folded into the batter along with the flour.  Original recipe below.

* Ingredients *
125g (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for preparing pan
1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sliced almonds

* Directions *
Centre a rack in oven and preheat to 350F/180C. Butter a seasoned 9-inch/22cm cast-iron skillet or other heavy oven-proof skillet.  Pour sugar into a medium bowl. Add lemon zest and blend zest into sugar with your fingers until sugar is moist and aromatic. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, until well blended. Whisk in salt and vanilla and almond extracts.  Switch to a rubber spatula and stir in flour. Finally, fold in melted butter. Scrape batter into prepared skillet or pan and smooth top with rubber spatula.  Scatter sliced almonds over top and sprinkle with sugar. If using a cake or pie pan, place pan on baking sheet. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden and a little crisp on outside; the inside will remain moist.