The dictionary describes a “hostess” as “a woman who receives or entertains guests in a social setting”. Well, this definition leaves a lot to be desired! If *I* had a dictionary and you looked up the word “hostess”, it would have a picture of my sister-in-law Marianne next to it.
She truly was the epitome of the “hostess with the mostest” and elevated “Entertaining” to a whole new level. In many ways, she was my entertaining idol. I was just 13 when she married my oldest brother Cole and so I grew up watching her cook and bake and decorate and…you name it! I was cataloging it all in my young brain for use when I was a “grownup”. :-)
Unfortunately, 4 years ago yesterday, Marianne was suddenly taken from us. She passed away on July 14th, 2007 and even though each year the sting is a little more bearable…her presence, her indomitable spirit, her joy for life, her passion for bringing friends and family together is deeply, deeply missed. Fortunately, her oldest daughter Katherine put together this wonderful cookbook, “Entertaining – Marianne Sant Warner and our favorite family recipes“. It’s a collection of Marianne’s amazing recipes to help the rest of us carry on her legacy of elegant entertaining. You can even purchase it for your cookbook library by clicking on the title.
So I wanted to dedicate today’s post to her and share a recipe I found awhile back that when I read it IMMEDIATELY made me think of Marianne! She used to make a very similar recipe at Christmastime that you would literally sell your soul to the devil for a piece of! lol! OK…I might be over-stating just a bit…but I’m pretty sure people have committed crimes trying to get her closely-guarded recipe!
So this is for you Marianne. I only wish I could visit you and bring you one. Well, not today. But I’m holding on to it….for someday. I love you and miss you Marianne.
Swedish Visiting Cake
(don’t you just love the name??!!)
A delightfully simple, lemon-almond cake with a gorgeous light brown crust and just enough crispness around the edges.
Adapted from “Baking, From My Home to Yours” by Dorie Greenspan
Makes 8 to 10 servings
1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure 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)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a seasoned 9-inch cast-iron skillet or other heavy ovenproof skillet, a 9-inch cake pan or even a pie pan.
Pour the sugar into a medium bowl. Add the zest and blend the zest and sugar together with your fingertips 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.
Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Scatter the sliced almonds over the top and sprinkle with a little sugar. If you’re using a cake or pie pan, place the pan on a baking sheet.
Bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it is golden and a little crisp on the outside; the inside will remain moist. Remove the pan from the oven and let the cake cool for 5 minutes, then run a thin 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.