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Friday, April 3, 2009

Toscatårta and Swedish Coffee


I'm always hesitant to reply when people ask me to name my favorite dessert. My tastes run to the barely sweet, but within that category I have a dozen favorites. This petite cake is one of them. I learned to bake a version of it as a child. A neighbor was my teacher. Armed only with a wooden spoon, her massive arms beat butter and sugar to submission and produced cakes and pastries that, to this day, astound me. Coffee was always simmering on her stove but a fresh pot, complete with a raw egg, was always made to accompany this lovely almond-topped cake. That, too, was watched with fascination. My first cup of coffee - a café au lait much heavier on au lait than café - came as a reward for making my first tårta. The cake is simple to do but make sure you use an 8-inch cake pan. I actually use a cheesecake pan with fixed sides to make mine. Make sure to spread the topping on a still warm cake. Keep a careful eye on the cake once it goes into the broiler as it takes only seconds for the topping to burn. This tårta does not keep well, so plan on serving it the day it's made - it's best eaten warm. I really, really like this cake. I think you will, too. As a curiosity, I'm including a recipe for Swedish egg coffee in this post. Why an egg? It helps the grounds settle to the bottom on a pot. It's not a bad technique to have at your disposal if your coffee pot breaks.

Toscatårta

Ingredients:

Cake:
2 teaspoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon dry bread crumbs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Almond Topping:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons milk
1/3 cup sliced blanched almonds, toasted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

To make cake:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally coat bottom and sides of a high-sided 8-inch round pan with 2 teaspoons butter. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs or flour. Tap out excess.
2) Sift flour, baking powder and salt together in a mixing bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat eggs until blended. Add sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until the mixture is pale yellow and forms a ribbon when the beater is lifted out.
3) Using a spatula, fold flour mixture and milk alternately into egg mixture by first adding about 1/3 of the flour, then a little milk, then another 1/3 of flour, and remaining milk. Finally, add butter and fold in remaining flour. Be careful not to overfold. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bang pan on table to remove air pockets.
4) Bake cake in the center of the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until cake is golden brown and is springy when touched lightly. A toothpick inserted into center of cake should come out dry and clean. Remove from oven. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes.
To make almond topping:
5) Meanwhile, combine butter, sugar and flour in a small pan and stir together briefly with a wooden spoon. Add milk and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 or 3 minutes, until mixture is smooth and thick. Remove from heat and stir in almonds and vanilla. Set aside.
Final assembly:
6) Preheat broiler. Run a knife around the edges of cake to loosen from pan. Invert onto a wire rack. Set another rack on top of cake and invert again. Spread topping over warm cake. Place cake, still on rack, under the broiler, about 3 inches from the heat. Broil 3 to 5 minutes, until top is golden brown and bubbling. Check constantly to be sure that topping does not burn. Serve while still warm. Yield: 1 8-inch cake.

Adapted from The Cooking of Scandinavia by Dale Brown

Swedish Egg Coffee

Ingredients:
10-12 cups of water
1 cup regular-grind coffee
1 egg
1 cup of ice cold water

Directions:
Bring water to a boil and remove from heat. In a small bowl, mix coffee and egg. Add a little hot water to coffee and egg mixture, then pour mixture into hot water. Stir and heat until it comes to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and pour in 1 cup of ice cold water. Let set for 10 minutes before serving. (The egg and grounds settle to the bottom, leaving the coffee a dark honey color.)

28 comments:

Martha said...

I, too, prefer the European sweets which are rich without being sugary. What a great story. I've heard of egg in coffee but have never done it -- and yes, it is supposed to help settle the grounds!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

A beautiful and tasty tart/cake indeed. I love that it seems an old recipe!

Natashya said...

I was wondering about the egg! I guess it is like the raft in a consomme.
I tend to like the just barley sweet cakes too, this looks really pretty - and I am fascinated by the little o on top of the a in the title.

Netts Nook said...

Mary your cake like and sounds tasty. What an interesting way to make coffee I have never heard of such a thing sounds great to me I will remember that for sure.

Cathy said...

A beautiful cake, Mary. I would love the almond topping. I shy away from overly sweet desserts so this would be perfect in my book.

Lynda said...

This cake sounds delicious with the almond topping! Just the picture has me craving it.
Very interresting about the egg in the coffe. I've not heard this before.

Maria said...

Lovely cake!! Have a great weekend!

Pam said...

Another beautiful recipe. It looks mouth watering good.

culinarytravelsofakitchengoddess said...

Beautiful cake and an excellent blog. Thanks also for taking the time to visit mine Mary.

Karen said...

My gardener and I aren't big on sweets, but I really like something to go with coffee that sounds like this little cake. I like the size of it too... I'm always looking on ways to cut down on leftovers!

Dimah said...

I've never heard of this cake, but it looks delicious!

ana dane said...

ooh, any dessert with almonds is irresistible to me. i can't wait to try this one- thanks for sharing such a special recipe.

Mary said...

Ana, I'm so glad you stopped by. I visited your lovely blog early this morning and loved what I saw.

dp said...

Now that's a cake! The topping sounds very interesting. I've been on an almond kick lately.

Mary said...

I really like this one dp. I've made it since I was a little girl. I saw your torte and it's on my list of "must do's."

Varsha Vipins said...

Wow..thats just yum ..Slurpp..n the egg coffee is just unique n amazing..I am so glad when I discover such unique recipes..Thanks Mary..:)
Thanks for the visit n comment ..Pls keep visiting..:)
Have a great weekend..!!

The Blonde Duck said...

All I can say is yum!

noble pig said...

We use egg in winemaking fo r the same principle as well.

The cake is stupendous.

The Cooking Photographer said...

Mary your story and this cake are so beautiful. It makes me want to run to the kitchen and start baking.

Mary said...

Laura, I'm so glad to have you visit my blog. I love the work you are doing.

Penny said...

Mary, the toscatarta looks beautiful. Will give it a try sometime. Thanks for visiting my blog. I am glad to have found yours.

Susan said...

Asky any cowboy, and they will say this is the way to make coffee over a camp fire. You've seen those old blue granite coffee pots. Well, they put an egg in it to let the coffee grounds drop to the bottom. My mother-in-law often did this because it reminded her of her childhood.

Allie said...

I share your love of slightly sweet desserts, instead of the sugar pow! desserts so common here in America.

You are making me so hungry! This looks delicious and I think I might like to come live w/ you. ;)

Lisa said...

This cake sounds wonderful. I love the idea of a nutty slight sweetness. And the coffee is really interesting. There are so many ways to do things. I love the stories and the reasons. Does this coffee taste noticeably different than other coffee?

Mary said...

Lisa, coffee made this way tastes like coffee made by more standard methods. What I've found though is that folks who make egg coffee use really good coffee so it seems to taste better. The cake is a treasure. I hope you try it.

Lori said...

What a beautiful cake. It just looks like perfection really. Oh yeah a perfect bite. This one is definitely a perfect bite. I would much rather have a torte than cake. Tortes are not as sweet, they have substenance rather than fluff!

Passionate About Baking said...

Just beautiful, & I loved reading the story behind it...beating the butter to submission!! Love the cake!

Anonymous said...

found your cake recipe via Pinterest. I grew up in my Irish Grandmother's home having Egg coffee--it is the only kind she made. Until last May when she moved to assisted living, at least one pot a day was made. There were times 5 or 6 pots (and these were the big enameled pots) were made. Great memories and I am going to try the torte.

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