I'm no fan of celebrity cookbooks. I'm relatively certain there's a Baldwin brother with an Italian home cookbook out there and if Billy Carter were still around you know he'd have a barbecue show on SpikeTV. It seems we believe that if you have become famous for acting or singing or politicking that you must be good at everything you do.
I have an exception to this dislike, however, and those are the books of Tamasin Day Lewis, sister of Academy Award winning actor Daniel Day Lewis and daughter of onetime poet laureate of Great Britain Cecil Day Lewis. In America, she is relatively unknown, but she has made a name for herself in Britain as a food and wine journalist and television producer.
Now there are some celebrity annoyances in her books (like the mention of Julia Roberts just loving the Treacle Tart in Day Lewis's book The Art of the Tart), but the recipes in her books work well and the photographs are just lovely.
This Mjuk Toscakaka recipe is not Day Lewis's but that of a friend of hers, Kristina von Wrede. It's very simple, but produces a cake that is light and sweet with a fantastic topping for all those who love crunchy sugar, butter, and almonds.
The original recipe may be found on Page 80 of Tamasin Day Lewis's Art of the Tart, a book I highly recommend.
Mjuk Toscakaka from a recipe by Kristina von Wrede via Tamasin Day Lewis
2/3 cup butter (10 2/3 tablespoons) plus more for buttering a cake pan
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
5 teaspoons water
1/4 cup slivered almonds (slivered as in thin disks, not as in splinters, if possible)
4 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon AP flour
Preheat the oven to 350 F and butterwell a 9" cake pan.
Sift the flour and baking powder together. Beat the eggs and vanilla together.
With a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until you have a light colored paste. Slowly add the egg/vanilla mixture to the butter/sugar. Slowly add in the flour and baking powder mix. Add the water and mix until you have a smooth batter.
Pour and scrape the batter into the buttered cake pan and smooth the top out with a rubber spatula. Bake for 30 minutes until the top takes on some color.
In a small saucepan, just before the 30 minutes is up, mix all the topping ingredients together and heat. Be careful as the mix will bubble like a witch's cauldron. The bubbling will help to mix the ingredients together.
Take the cake out, and raise the temperature in the oven to 400 F. Spoon the topping onto the top of the cake evenly and return the cake to the oven for 5 minutes to brown. Watch the cake carefully - if the top looks like it may be getting too dark, remove it from the oven.
Let the cake cool for a few minutes before attempting to remove it from the pan. You may wish to cover the top with a sheet of wax paper, invert it onto the paper in your hand, then invert back onto a serving plate or stand.
The top to this cake is sweet, crunchy, and flavorful. A variation would be to add lemon or orange zest to the topping and juice instead of water to the cake recipe for citrus flavor, but its just lovely the way it is.
Let me know if Julia Roberts likes this recipe as well.