Oh, dear friends, I keep having moments where I’m in deep thought, and the next thing I know, I’m staring at the wall for ten minutes. This might be a sign that it’s time to get my bad self into the shower.
But wait! Was there not the promise of sandtorte bandied about? Why, yes, there was. I am a mad fool for sandtorte, a soft, faintly dry, luscious butter cake, made short by a blend of flour and potato starch; made rich by butter and nuts, and made bright and wholesome by eight, count ‘em, eight eggs. I regularly fall back on a recipe written by Maida Heatter, who said that she has seen a taxi driver in Copenhagen offer sandtorte for sale in the back of his cab. Julie, however, has found me another recipe, and as tired as I am, my fingers itch to try it. The recipe comes from Nela’s Cookbook by Nela Rubinstein, a real beauty of a cookbook that was one of Julie’s mother’s favorites. Nela Rubinstein was the wife of the pianist Arthur Rubinstein, raised in Lithuania on the type of Polish cuisine favored by Francophilic Polish cooks. I am dying to read this book closely, but if I do that, there won’t be any blogging to be done. Two recipes in particular caught my eye. One was the sandtorte, which Julie invited me to share. The other is something that Julie has asked me to refrain from sharing for now—but I promise that the time will come when it will be shared, and it will be good. I know, because I’ve seen the recipe, and I’ve heard Julie talk about it. (Neener neener neener.)
Sandtorte (from Nela’s Kitchen by Nela Rubinstein; New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1983)
makes one 11” layer in a springform pan, three 8” round layers or two 9” layers; serves 12-16
2 sticks (8 oz., 225 g) unsalted butter
1 cup (7 oz., 200g) granulated sugar
8 large eggs, separated
1 cup + 6 tbsp (4 oz., 115g) cake flour
1 cup + 2 tablespoons (4 oz.) potato starch or cornstarch
1/2 cup ground blanched almonds
1 tbsp. grated lemon zest
3 drops almond extract
2 tbsp. kirschwasser or white rum
Preheat the oven to 325F (165C, Gas Mark 3). Cream the butter, adding the sugar gradually, then the egg yolks, one by one, after the sugar is well incorporated. This mixture should be nice and fluffy. Sift together the flour and starch and add the mixture gradually, beating to incorporate it very well. Add the ground almonds, lemon zest, almond extract and liqueur. Beat the egg whites into stiff peaks, and fold them into the batter.
Butter and flour an 11-inch springform mold. Pour the batter in and bake for about one hour. When the cake is done, a toothpick will come out clean, and the edges will have shrunk slightly from the pan. Or bake the cake in three 8-inch layer pans, or two or three 9-inch layer pans, for 20-25 minutes.
(Dear friends, in general I try to play fairly by not quoting recipes wholesale, trying instead to paraphrase as well as I can, acknowledging that the recipe is someone else’s but the instructions are my own words. This time, though, except for a bit of weight and temperature conversion, I left the recipe as is. Mrs. Rubinstein’s directions, so clear, so easy to follow, so just plain good, really can’t be improved upon.