This week for French Friday’s with Dorie we made a Visitandine cake. A Visitandine cake is a delightful short crumb cake that is probably the precursor to the shortbread cakes we eat today and it’s quite similar to financiers, though not quite as spongy. This very simple cake originated in the convent of a community of French nuns called the Sisters of the Visitation, or the “Visitandines.” I wonder what it would have meant to be visited by the nuns. I would guess that upon being served this cake, they would have easily won over whomever they visited for whatever purpose they wanted.
Normally, a very white cake, it suddenly takes on a deep, nutty flavor and brown hue when you take the opportunity to brown the butter. The scent alone of the cooking butter is enough to make you want to devour the cake the moment it emerges out of the oven. But if you are patient and take a little time to macerate your berries with a bit of sugar and lemon juice and drizzle them over heaps of whipped cream sitting on top of layers of this cake, you will be most pleased with the result. It’s incredibly simple to make. And yet, it’s scrumptious and will be a huge hit with everyone you serve it to. Those nuns knew what they were doing. The table was cleared and ready for dessert in no time flat.
I will definitely be making this cake again (and not just to bribe the kids into submission) and will be sure to double the recipe as it disappeared quickly. Everyone really enjoyed it. And despite the butter and whipped cream, it’s really a rather healthy dessert. (Ok, maybe not, but it feels healthier!) It would also be delicious with so many different toppings, not just berries, but lemon curd, apples, caramel, chocolate, peaches and even plums. It is a great base that would let you be very creative with it. I already have too many ideas for it!
While I cannot share this delicious recipe, you can (and should!) buy the book and cook along with us. It’s great fun! Every Friday we make a new recipe. Looking forward to next weeks! For details and to see how others are recreating the dishes from this awesome book, check out the FFWD site.
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