visitandine {ffwd}


Who wants cake? On deck this week for French Fridays with Dorie is a simple buttery cake called Visitandine, named after the order of French nuns who created this recipe.

I’ll admit, I had near tragedy with this one. I decided to halve the recipe and make two small cakes in 4-inch springform pans. All seemed to be going well. I browned the butter. I mixed the butter with the dry ingredients. It wasn’t as thick or hopeless as Dorie indicated it might be. I beat the egg whites until they were stiff. I folded the egg whites into the batter. I filled the cake pans. I put them in the oven. Then, I went down to the basement to move some laundry around.


I came upstairs to find a burning smell. I turned on the oven light and looked in the little window. The oven was filled with smoke. Uh-oh. I immediately turned off the oven and opened it up to retrieve my little cakes. I also opened a window and turned on the fans. The source of the smoke was a puddle of butter that had leaked from the pan onto the oven floor. I hadn’t thought to put the cake pans on a baking sheet.

I was so disappointed. The cakes seemed to have such possibilities! They were partially baked, but not all the way. I hated to throw them out, so I just stashed in the fridge overnight while I figured out what to do.

Overnight, I was weighing my options. Do I bake the saved cakes through and see what happens or do I start over? As I was reviewing the recipe in my head, I realized why the pans might have leaked. I halved the recipe EXCEPT for the butter. That probably explains why it mixed together more easily than expected. With that much butter, it might also explain why it exuberantly oozed out of the pan.


In the morning, I cleaned the bottom of the oven and decided to try just baking what I had. If it failed, I could start over. It worked!

The cake was light though rich-tasting (must be that extra butter). I’ll have to try it with the proper amount of butter, but this is just the sort of cake I enjoy. It reminded me of the financiers, and also an almond-browned butter cake I’ve been making when I have extra egg whites.

Howard wasn’t interested in this one, so I ate some cake plain (delicious) and also cake with rhubarb compote spooned over it (also delicious, but not very attractive). I still have one more cake to enjoy. I’ll be making Howard some chocolate pudding with the extra egg yolks, so he won’t feel left out.

Vistandine with Rhubarb Compote

To see how the other Doristas’ cakes came out, check their links here. You can find the recipe here or in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.

If you missed it on Facebook or Instagram, here’s a photo of Mardi and I enjoying a fantastic meal at Coppa, a tiny enoteca (wine bar) in the South End neighborhood of Boston. We had a great time meeting though we missed the rest of you. Here’s to more Dorista meetups in the future.

Betsy & Mardi


Posted on 4 April 2014, in Baking, Boston, French Fridays with Dorie and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Halving and doubling can be tricky – I’ve made more than my share of disasters that way :-)

    How fun that you and Mardi were able to meet up. Yes, we need more meet ups!

  2. Gee is it already a week ago that we met up? Was SO LOVELY to meet you :)

    Sorry about your visitandine – minifying does require much math and also much double (and triple!) checking of my ingredients! But you should definitely make it again…

  3. Betsy, Nice save…the cake that is pictured certainly doesn’t look as if it had any problems…glad you enjoyed it! This was one of my favorite cakes that we’ve made in FF’s…perfect for shortcake! Happy weekend!

  4. Had you not mentioned I wouldn’t have guessed that your batter survived it all. It looks so good. … I halved the recipe too and baked the cake in a 8 inch skillet. It was thin but I did not mind that with all the fruit topping.

  5. Yeah, forgetting to halve the butter sounds like a move I’d make, but I’m glad it all worked out. A rare hit for Bill that was a miss for Howard! And how fun that you met up with Mardi!!!

  6. I’ve learned that I have to write out the right amounts when reducing or increasing the yield on a recipe – otherwise, my penchant for multitasking can lead to disaster! I’m glad yours worked out in the end. Their extra-buttery-ness must have been a treat!

  7. Part of the reason I’m not into baking is the measuring, just to easy to make a mistake. The final result looks pretty darn good and plain is a great way to really appreciate the cake’s flavor.

  8. Oh no! We’ve all been there and I know the feeling well. I have learned that I have to write down the amounts if I half or double recipes in order to prevent just the issue which you had. I’m so happy to hear that yours worked out anyway.

  9. I had a similar ‘bonfire’ incident with my oven – split oil from hobs above into the oven section. Pretty crazy incident! Jotting down the numbers helps if I do remember when scaling down the recipe! Anyways, everything worked out in the end for you!

  10. Wow. Indestructible little devils, huh? I can just imagine the buttery goodness. I’m so paranoid when changing recipe scales. A cautionary tale but glad it worked out.

  11. Oh the times I have ended up with a full recipe because I forgot to halve one ingredient… But your cakes turned out!! Looks so yummy. I like the idea of the rhubarb. I picked some up today to go with a grapefruit pound cake (that fell because I was banging the tart dough on the counter that I wanted to get rolled out…).

    I thought this was really a great recipe. Happy that it all turned out and you enjoyed!!

  12. I also had the dilemma should I halve the recipe or bake it as is? Then I decided to make a few smaller cakes and give the ones we didn’t eat to some friends. I was able to give away only 2 of the 7 small cakes I made! George ate 3 on the first day and 2 for breakfast the next. This recipe was a huge hit!!

  13. Boo! Sorry to hear about the mishap.

  14. So sorry to hear about your first go. But glad it worked the second time around! The rhubarb compote must have been tasty on it!

  15. I go full accountant when scale back recipes and plug everything into Excel. Even with that, I have had my share of snafus. Ovens catching fire/smoking is scary enough – glad to hear there was no major damage at your house.

  16. Now you realize why I have such a difficult time halving my recipes as well as cooking for one. Invariably, I always forget or miscalculate something. I had a little disaster of my own with my 8″ springform pan (which was perfect). I didn’t tighten the latch before pouring in the batter. I was smart enough to put it on a cookie sheet, Ms. MIT. For some reason I checked it early on and realized the “slow” seepage. I pulled it out. Opened and latched it quickly and it worked. Like you, I liked it. The rhubarb compote sounds heavenly. I love rhubarb. Your little 4″ jobs are cute.

  17. I am glad this worked out for you, extra butter and all. I liked it too. How wonderful to catch up with Mardi!

  18. I’m so jealous I am so far away down here in Australia! It’s been wonderful seeing the group meet up at various places.
    I sent my cake flying across the bench and into the kitchen sink, lucky it’s pretty sturdy :)

  19. Whenever I halve (or double) recipes, I always have to write all of the new ingredient amounts in the margin. Otherwise I mess it up every time. If you were going to have extra of one ingredient, though, butter definitely seems like the one to pick :-) I’m amazed that the cake survived a night in the fridge, and still turned out beautifully. What a versatile recipe.

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