I'm sure I have mentioned that I am a huge fan of the supremely reliable and creative Dorie Greenspan, who has a new(ish) book out. It is also not a secret that I have a bit of a problem involving my collection of cookbooks, which is maybe too large to be in a private home-particularly the private home of an Apartment Dweller of Moderate Means. (The reason it is not a secret, is that it is Too Big to Hide.* It is not that I am not suitably embarrassed-I'd hide it if I could. Many a casual visitor- for example, the plumber- has been moved to ask me why I have so many cookbooks.) I'll bet you can guess what I just did.
Yup. After a perfunctory internal debate, I bought Ms. Greenspan's Baking, From My Home To Yours. This looks to be a pretty thorough survey of her approach to home baking, which is my kind of baking, for sure. Although there is a wide range of recipes, for all kinds of great looking stuff, I was drawn first to her selection of simple cakes and small baked goods, which can be turned out easily. I love sweets which are not too sweet, go well with tea and coffee, and have some nuance, flavor-wise. It looks like this book is just full of that sort of thing. Plus, it has a number of my personal favorites, including World Peace Cookies (a/k/a Korovas-best chocolate cookie ever) and her lovely sables.
I thought I'd try this simple cake first. It appeals because of its ease (Ms. Greenspan's Swedish friend said her mother claimed you could start making it when you saw your friends coming down the road, and it would be ready by the time they settled in for coffee), its ingredients, and the fact that I am a sucker for any thing made in a well-seasoned 9" cast iron pan. ( I just like to show mine off, and it's fun to use.)
granulated sugar, 1 cup
grated zest of one lemon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp almong extract
1 cup all purpose flour
8 tbsps melted butter-1/4 lb.
1/4 cup sliced almonds
demarar sugar or sanding sugar
Preheat your oven to 350F and butter a 9" seasoned cast iron skillet, or similarly sized cake pan. In a bowl, mix the lemon zest and sugar with your fingers, distributing well. Mix the eggs in one at a time, preferably with a whisk, until well blended. Add salt and the extracts and the flour, and switch to a rubber spatula or spoon to mix. Fold in the melted butter.
Scrape the batter into your skillet, smooth and sprinkle with the almonds, then some of the demarara or sanding sugar. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until it is golden and looking a bit crispy on the edge. Cool 5 minutes, then loosen the edges and bottom with a knife, or a thin spatula. Serve from the pan. It is moist in the middle-a bit marzipan-ish.
The non-cake pictues that you see are of the pantry of my Not So Tidy Kitchen* , because I told Karen I would. For reasons unclear to me, the walls look white. Actually, they are elephant gray. Maybe you will show your pantry too, for her collection?
*What is it that occasionally compels me to capitalize words in this apparently random fashion, ala Winnie the Pooh's Very Big Surprise? I suspect it has something to do with being embarrassed.