2014/04/04

The cake, not the nuns... (French Fridays with Dorie: Visitandine)

Despite the hours upon hours I spent on European history in college (my major was in Middle European history), I had no idea what a Visitandine was going into this week's recipe.

For some reason, I was thinking Swedish visiting cake and kept wondering where the almonds were...

I don't remember this particular order of French nuns making an appearance in any of my classes - although, I did write some pretty rad papers on Savonarola (Italian), Abelard (French) and a few other "misused" theologians from the Middle Ages and the eras shortly thereafter. Heck, I even did a presentation on Dante Alighieri and his circles of hell using overhead projector slides that I had drawn myself (does anyone use those any more?)

Oh, I was just a great big old bundle of fun when I was knee-deep in those 15 page papers. I don't know how my roommate - a communication major - tolerated me during research paper time. The four foot stack of library books was probably a pretty strong indicator that it would be wise to evacuate the premises for several weeks.

This was prior to the advent of the WWW - back when one still had to go to the library to borrow books AND then one had to go through thousands of pages of dusty tomes to find enough material to piece together a reasonable sounding piece about some inane topic.

One PacMan cake...
 
Anyhoo, I don't remember reading about the Visitandine order of nuns while researching any of those papers and I certainly don't remember any mention of cake. I am pretty sure that if my professors brought up the subject of cake that I would have paid attention.... (Note to college professors: if you want your students to pay attention, talk about cake.)

A fine crumbed, white cake, Visitandine (cake, not the nuns) is a blank canvas for whatever it is you normally do with a plain, white cake. Slicing the cake in half and turning it into a strawberry shortcake like creation was recommended. (Aren't you glad we are talking about cake? That last sentence would have been really awkward if we were still talking about nuns...)

I ended up with a short squat cake and four egg yolk orphans.

Looking at my short squat creation, I quickly realized that no layering would be happening here. Little wedges it would be...

I pulled some of my berries and rhubarb from last season out of the freezer and gave them a roast with some balsamic vinegar. I strained the resulting juices and reduced them to make a thick sauce. Who needs whipped cream when you have a balsamic reduction? Balsamic is one friend that every cook and baker should get in tight with...


The first vestiges of spring have finally arrived and I am feeling increasingly hopeful. I was able to see parts of my lawn for the first time yesterday. I danced a small jig. Heck, we even had a couple 50 F days. Bring it on, Mother Nature. We welcome you with open arms. (I reserve the right to change my mind during the mid-July heat wave. Just sayin')

Peace out.

This post participates in French Fridays with Dorie. A version of the recipe for Visitandine is posted over here on The Bitten Word site (one of my favorite reads....)

26 comments:

  1. I'd much rather have this cake than the nuns any day - love the balsamic reduction.

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  2. Note to blogger: if you want your readers to pay even more attention, talk about nuns:)
    Joking

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  3. LOve the idea of the balsamic reduction and, of course, your PacMan cake!

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  4. Yeah, no layering here either! Your sauce sounds to die for, Cher...wish Bill would eat rhubarb...maybe this will convince him :)
    PS...yeah, what a pain it was to research those term papers...and just as bad was typing them on a typewriter!!!

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  5. We ate the balance of our fresh berries this morning so frozen ones it is and I thought of balsamic too!

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  6. Remember micro fiche? Kids have know idea how much easier research is today. I'm sure you noted that gluttony was one of Dante's circles in hell. A warm eternity doesn't sound all that bad.

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    1. Yep, I spent a lot of time on the micro fiche machine. My head hurts thinking about it.

      I don't think my second semester college sophomore has ever had to spend time in the "stacks" for any of her papers. All of the scholarly/ techinical journals she has to read are on line.

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  7. When I made this cake, way back when, there wasn't a chance I could slice it, either. Far too flat. Research papers. Booooo. Some days, I wish I could go back to college as the person I am now and do it over again, but then you say "research paper," and I'm all, "Psh! No thanks."

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  8. Great post, Cher! And, I love your note to college professors!

    I didn't realize you were such a history buff - you & John could have some interesting conversations as that's his favorite period.

    I love seeing all the ways we served this cake Dorista-style!

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  9. The PacMan cake is so cute! Balsamic reduction also sound fantastic. I loved this simple cake. Glad I was able to salvage it from disaster after all. I'm hoping winter has retreated from your part of the world. Spring seems to be settling in here this week. I even have some bulbs flowering. Yay! We made it through winter!

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    1. No bulbs yet, but the lawn to snow ratio is looking more favorable every day!

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  10. Your cake looks wonderful…love the PacMan reference! Balsamic reduction is amazing…I’m sure it was wonderful on your cake!
    There is finally no snow anywhere to be seen around my house. Spring is settling in…after a long cold winter! Happy weekend, Cher!!

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  11. Cher, thanks for the warm welcome. I enjoyed your story of college days. I too went to college when you had to check out books:)

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  12. Believe it or not I still prefer books and papers to online journals. The former somewhat feels like serious stuff :)

    I like your balsamic reduction. Sounds delicious !

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  13. Cher, ah, the rhubarb - again, great minds seem to think alike - although we do have rhubarb growing in the fields around here, we are in the midst of rhubarb season and I just love that vegetable, especially paired with berries (never tried a balsamic reduction for my compote though). Your Visitandine looks simply delightful served the way you did!
    Have a great weekend!

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  14. Sounds like you would have been right at home in my Chaucer class - our professor brought in Medieval treats, including a mulled wine for the end of the semester.

    Love your choices of accompaniments for this cake. I'm on the lookout for rhubarb in the markets soon, as my rhubarb plant takes its time to get going.

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  15. I'm so glad I'm back! You brought back memories of being at uni, hours in the library walking from one floor to the next just finding the books and journal articles I needed. The good old days :)
    Love your pacman cake, looks pretty delicious!
    And I'm desperately waiting for the cool weather to hit here. It's April and still hot and muggy here.

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  16. Ah the library. I still love libraries. Research papers, not so much. But I do agree that I would probably have an easier time writing one about cakes than nuns.

    Mine also didn't rise enough for layers, but it was tasty in any case. The Sable Breton might still be my favorite though.

    And good luck with the spring thing. Sounds to me like everyone in the northern US has more than earned it.

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  17. I am so jealous of your strawberries and rhubarb. I want to do more preserving (even if it's just freezing) this year. I'm glad you enjoyed this one!

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  18. I agree, strawberries, rhubarb and balsamic reduction. Sounds amazing!!! I'm happy that you're finally seeing a bit of spring! I was in PA last week, and was surprised at how nice it was (for those 3 days!). I loved this cake, I may just have to make another one!

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  19. PacMan cake lol!! It looks great with the roasted berries and rhubarb. I remember eating rhubarb at the beginning of spring way back when I was a student in London. It was political science for me and given the love-hate relationship between France and England we did not talk a lot about French philosophers let alone nuns :) I somehow had the notion that you like history from the books you read :) What are you reading now?

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  20. How did we get through college without the Internet and Wiki (right or wrong)? I was one of those fools who spent most of the time in the library -- don't remember writing about any of those figures including Dante. Of course, it was Florida State and I did spend some time on the deck getting a great tan. Which I am paying for now with my quarterly visits to the dermatologist. What does this really have to do with cake? Loved your fruit reduction. Rhubarb is one of my favorite fruits - could not find it around here all winter.

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  21. I never heard of them either and I did a lot of studying of European history too. But, eh, nuns. There used to be quite a lot of them around back then. Egg yolk orphans need to be ice cream.

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  22. Your cake looks great! Glad you were able to squeeze it in.

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  23. I remember too many of those papers- especially on Inferno! Good times. Strawberry rhubarb would make an excellent topping for this cake! I love that you made a balsamic reduction. Great idea!

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  24. When I was in college the internet wasn't what it is today in terms of available information for papers and stuff, so I did spend some time between the stacks.

    My cake was also on the flat side... serves me right for not breaking out the stand mixer and trying to shortcut my way around cleanup.

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