Visitandine Strawberry Shortcakes

French Friday with Dorie – Haiku!

Visitandine Strawberry Shortcakes

a visitandine
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”.

Visitandine Strawberry Shortcakes

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.


About Trevor Kensey

To be truthful, I don't know what “Sis. Boom. [blog!]" means either. The name implies something explosive just happened I suppose I would like it if each post would make made a small 'boom' in your day or at least a fizzle. Even though a recipe is included with every post I have a hard time calling this a "food blog" or even myself a "food blogger".

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  1. Nuns know a lot about baking… remember they have time on their hands to experiment. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Financier was stolen from the Visitandine… sounds like the natural course of things. Excellent photos… like your layering.

  2. Holy moly that looks great! Nuns are the best bakers – it’s rumoured that they were the very first people to make certain kinds of macarons too. I’ll be making this cake again 🙂

  3. Love your presentation! There is a cafe in Barcelona that only serves sweets made by the local nuns, and they are incredible. I was surprised by how rich the cakes were. I’d sought out the cafe because I thought it sounded cool, but I’d expected simpler, less indulgent desserts. I’m happy I was wrong!

  4. What did you do with the ring shapes left behind after you cut out the circles of cake used in your presentation?

    Is it possible you turned them into little circlets for soda bottles? I think that would be so charming.

  5. Holy Tea Cake! That is glorious! I adore Financiers ( the tiny cake kind, that is), so I am sure I will like these. What beautiful work, and as always, charming, clever and wonderful writing. Merci!

  6. Haikus, have returned!
    This cake, 10 in pan, too flat.
    Smaller pan might do…

    Bankers in church?
    The walls would surely crumble.
    Run for the hills now.

    Cake in small glasses.
    Needs a side of alcohol.
    Then can go to church.

  7. Love your gorgeous parfait version…another Bill approved option, I’m certain. Had to giggle about the bankers in church 🙂

  8. Love your presentation. Looks so pretty !

  9. You might call them fussy, but to me your parfaits look parfait. I took the browned butter option too. Nice touch.

  10. As always a fun post and a beautiful presentation! Your photos are sensational, Trevor! Have a great weekend!

  11. Love your parfait take on our week’s recipe! Was entertained, as usual!

  12. Dominus Vobiscum and pass over one of those strawberry shortcakes. I’d never heard of this either. Since 1610 these nuns ate this cake? Who knew!

  13. The presentation
    Is fussy, but it’s beauty
    Cannot be denied.

    Browned butter glory,
    Stacked with strawberries and cream,
    Who could ask for more?

  14. I hear that the church is suffering from dwindling attendance. They may want to have the nuns start catering. I certainly would have gone more if they had served this cake.

    And I also noticed that this seemed to be quite similar to the financiers. And if I’m honest, I think that I like the financier batter better.

    • I think i did too. And that was the almond flour. Dorie didn’t want us to make that connection so she opted it out. Bu tI liked it…and would have even in this cake. Next time…

  15. I thought that this was a fun cake! Yours looks delicious, and I love the sound of rhubarb with it. Hmmm…boozy bourbon cherries… why do I always think of adding some adult beverage to something when I think of you? I agree with you, this cake would work so well with so many things, but it was also fabulous on its own. Well done!

    Happy weekend!

  16. Trevor, love your presentation in the glasses – well, you already know that I adore the strawberry-rhubarb combination, so your choice of fruit compote , together with the brown butter and whipped cream certainly is right up my alley!
    And your photos always amaze me – love them too!

  17. I do love your fancy styling – it looks sensational. You are right – the nuns might rap your knuckles for fanciness because of their vow to live simplistically and close to God or something like that – or perhaps I have been watching too much The Sound of Music ….

  18. I loved every little buttery crumb of this cake! Brown butter of course… who new that nuns have such a sweet tooth e? Thinking about it they all plump and soft it must be the butter lol
    Love, love, love your photography – you must be getting tired of me telling you that 🙂

  19. I love the way you served the cake. So fancy!

  20. What could be bad with Brown Butter? Not much I do think! I agree that it’s always an option to take if given the chance! I love your photos -stunning- and happy to see your haiku.

  21. It’s been a very long time since you’ve Haiku-ed us. A definite treat this week along with the Visitandine. Maybe the brown butter provides the same flavoring as the almond flour. I also did the brown deed and could actually taste it in the cake. I am definitely going to copy cat you with the glasses/goblets/brandy snifters and the cut-out rounds. You took those nuns to an entirely new presentation level. I loved everything about this cake and it appears you did and most of the FFWD crew did.

  22. Hail Mary! These goblets of sinful berries would surely have me headed to confession where I still need to atone for kicking Fr. Gonzalez in the 80’s but we shall save that for another time. I will dig down deep to the under layers leaving my diet in god’s hands. Two Rosaries, three Our Father’s and one guilty pleasure. Surely worth the knuckle rap.

  23. I think Mary nailed it – the browned butter made up for the nutty flavor of the almond meal!

  24. These look far too indulgent to be nun approved 🙂
    I smiled from start to finish of your post. Thank You.

  25. These looks delicious, and so, so pretty. I enjoy Zach and Clay’s blog too.

  26. Rhubarb with this sounds fabulous, not that the strawberries aren’t gorgeous in their little cup. Love the Haiku. I guess I should get back to be a banker now.