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Vistandine


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.

Mini-Vistandine

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.

Batter

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

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Want to Share a Cuppa?

Rustic Blueberry Scones

Tea is my caffeinated drink of choice. I drink cups and cups of tea everyday. My favorite is Extra Bergamot Earl Gray from Upton Teas. I’ll have an occasional espresso drink on the run. I don’t really care for plain old coffee, though I’ll sometimes order it in restaurants because the way most restaurants serve tea is abysmal. Don’t even get me started…

In the afternoon (or sometimes mid-morning), a cup of tea wants a little bite to accompany it. I think this is what scones were invented for. I like them just a little bit sweet and crumbly.

I’m constantly trying new scone recipes. My goal is to some day settle on two base recipes, one using cream or milk and the other with buttermilk. That way I can accommodate the current dairy supply in my refrigerator. My choice of mix-ins can always be combined into either dough.

I have a variety of flours in the pantry, most of them from Bob’s Red Mill, leftover from various recipe experiments. A local grocery store (though my least favorite one around) stocks a large inventory his products. I will visit that store for flour.

My recent favorite is buckwheat flour. I’ve been substituting it for some of the regular flour in assorted baked goods. I like the earthy undertone it adds, and the slightly purple color of the end product.

With a recent excess of blueberries, picked next to the dock of our Maine cottage, I had blueberry scones on my mind. Using some buckwheat flour gave my scones the rustic look I had in mind.

When you’re in the neighborhood, you’re always welcome to stop by and join me for a cup of tea, a scone (or two), and a chat!

Cuppa Tea with Scone?

Rustic Blueberry Scones
Makes 15

1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup buckwheat flour
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
10 Tbsp (1¼ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut in to ½-inch pieces
1 large egg
6 Tbsp buttermilk
¾ tsp vanilla extract
¾ tsp almond extract
1 cup blueberries, rinsed and dried

Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Measure the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse corn meal. (You can process about 10 seconds before starting to pulse, if you’re not that patient.). Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, lightly whisk the eggs. Add buttermilk and extracts and whisk to combine. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir just until the flour is incorporated. Add the berries and stir gently to combine.

For each scone, scoop about ¼ cup of dough onto the baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. I use an ice cream scoop that’s about this size.

Bake the scones for 15-20 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry. Remove from the oven and let them sit for about 5 minutes on the baking sheet. Then transfer the scones to a rack to cool further, or just eat them warm!

I find that scones freeze well. If I take one from the freezer in the morning, it’s defrosted and ready for a quick toasting in the oven later in the day.

* Note that Bob’s Red Mill is a sponsor of the International Food Blogger Conference that I am attending later this week. In exchange for a discounted rate, I’ve agreed to write some blog posts about the conference and its sponsors. However, I purchased the flour myself and I’ve expressed my honest opinions in this post.