Today´s recipe for the French Fridays with Dorie group is ”Visitandine” – a simple white cake with a small-grained crumb.
The recipe for this French Visitandine is very similar to the recipes for Coconut Friands that we baked back in April 2012 and Financiers that we baked back in April 2013. These are all my favorite kinds of cakes. Simple, yet elegant. Not cloyingly sweet and very versatile.
You can use all kinds of fancy and pretty baking pans for these cakes. There are the madeleine molds, financier or tartlet pans or even muffin pans but then there are also pie plates or springform pans. I decided to divide the batter in two and used heart-shaped pans.
Dorie mentions in her recipe that the her friend Claudine Martina , the author of this recipe, likes to use a “plat à tarte” because using it, the cake bakes into "a nice flat galette”. That is exactly what I wanted my cakes to look like, nice flat and elegant.
The recipe is fairly simple, all you require is egg whites, plain flour, fine sugar, a pinch of sea salt and melted unsalted butter – as usual, I substituted the vanilla extract with pure vanilla sugar. Other than that, no changes to the recipe.
The name of the cake goes back to the “Visitandine” or “Visitation Order” (in German “Orden von der Heimsuchung Mariens”) formally the Congregation of the Visitation of Holy Mary, a Roman Catholic order of nuns founded by St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane Frances de Chantal at Annecy, France, in 1610. The order was originally destined for charitable work, visiting and caring for the sick and poor in their homes, as well as for prayer. To this day, many Visitandines are devoted to education.
Apparently the nuns baked these simple cakes to sustain them during times of famine – the egg whites in the batter were considered to be a good source of protein.
Since I was quite taken by the elegant look of these cakes, I did not really want to serve them with whipped cream or turn them into strawberry shortcakes – I chose to dust them liberally with confectioners´ sugar to showcase the simplicity and elegance of these cakes. And since we are in the midst of rhubarb season around here and since I am a devoted rhubarb addict and love to use this wonderful spring vegetable (not fruit) in my baking (you might want to take a look here or here), I served the Visitandines with a very seasonal rhubarb-strawberry compote and some more fresh strawberries. Perfect!
To see how much the other members of the French Fridays with Dorie group enjoyed today´s recipe, please click here.
If you happen to own Dorie Greenspan´s book “Around my French Table”, you will find the recipe for ”Visitandine" on pages 436-37.