French Friday with Dorie – Haiku!
what's so special about this?
teacakes made by nuns
look! fussy styling
a ruler strikes my knuckles
(i'll skip this next time)
brown'd butter used here
my choice if its optional
did nuns do that too?
Visitandine Strawberry Shortcakes
Visitandine is a simple French teacake and yet I had never heard of it before this assignment. Perhaps this is because I don’t take my culinary or cultural cues from nuns? No matter. The cake is named for the nuns of the Order of Visitation, a French religious order founded in 1610 so it would seem they have been making this one for a very long time. Its provenance therefore is much older than the curiously similar Financier, those mini-cakes we have sampled almost exactly one year ago. These desserts are so close that one wonders if Mssr. Lasne, the baker credited with inventing the financier (to appeal to the bankers that worked nearby) merely appropriated the dear Sisters’ recipe and just poured the visitandine batter into his tiny molds instead of a larger cake pan?
Don’t forget he was appealing to bankers so it is very doubtful they ever would have previously seen the cake in church.
Regardless, the cake itself is nearly identical in both taste and preparation. Both recipes were included in Dorie’s book so it was only a matter of time before we would discover their similarity. As presented in “All Around My French Table” the visitandine is absent the almond flour called for in the tiny financiers. This interpretation seems to be unique to Dorie’s version as just about every other online recipe I found for the cake includes the almond flour missing here. No matter. The cake is without a doubt delicious either way its made thanks in no small part to the prominence of the butter and sugar. Without any fuss to get it its way butter and sugar will always save your soul, won’t they?
It is a most versatile desert as it, like a financier, can serve as a pedestal for just about anything, including many of the dishes we have already made from the book including spiced pears and roasted rhubarb, and long and slow apples. When baked in the suggested 10 inch pan the cake made a noble effort to rise towards heaven but its resulting heft didn’t save my soul so I opted to get out some biscuit cutters and do a little form factor revision of my own by making individual visitandine strawberry shortcakes and including a dollop of rhubarb puree from Dalesford brought to me from England by my mum. Lastly, I took the extra step to brow the butter because, well, when browned butter is suggested as an option I always take it.
Even the nuns couldn’t resist this kind of temptation, I’m sure.
For the recipe please go see my friends Zack and Clay at The Bitten Word where they have proclaimed it ‘phenomenal”.
This Visitandine lovingly made into fussy strawberry rhubarb shortcakes was an assignment for French Friday’s with Dorie, a cooking group working its way through Dorie Greenspan’s culinary tome “Around My French Table”. We generally avoid including the recipes in our posts. However, wherever there has been a significant adaptation by me or where the recipe has already been publicly posted by Ms. Greenspan or her publishers or by hundreds of other bloggers, or it is, in fact, not much of a recipe at all, I will either include it here (adapted) or provide a direct link to it. Please feel free to contact me via the link provided on my page if you need any assistance finding a French Friday with Dorie Recipe. You should buy the book though.
It will change your life — as it has mine.