There was a day spent in the garden. A rake in the hands, and dead leaves piled high on a wheelbarrow. That day, the sun was high and warm, just like the two eagles we’d seen earlier, right after sunrise.
The following morning was an entirely different story. A story made of snowflakes and a crackling fireplace. Both lasted all day, for the record.
I baked the sourdough bread that I had left to proof on the porch overnight. And although it turned out to be much too big for my cast-iron pot, it was restlessly devoured while still warm, with only a few slices left for the next day.
I painted too. A dalahäst. Although I still need to draw on top of the watercolours, using ink, just like I always do.
And in the afternoon, when it became clear we wouldn’t leave the house, I whipped egg whites and folded them into fromage blanc, to make the one cake that might have possibly been baked weekly in my kitchen for a little over ten years, which I’ve yet to tell you about.
Fromage blanc cake
This recipe is a classic case of natural selection.
What started with the words tarte au fromage blanc, hastily written with a not-so-steady hand over twenty years ago has slowly turned into a cake – a term close enough, yet, hardly accurately describes the wonder that it really is.
All it took, really, was to remove the pâte brisée base. And just like that, many childhood memories resurfaced. The tourteau fromagé du Poitou; the burnt crust, the pâte brisée I would leave out in favour of the insane texture of this fresh goat’s cheese “cake”. And perhaps also, the soft cake that came from a cardboard box at the supermarket; halfway between a mousse and a cheesecake.
And maybe that’s what I should call it: Fromage blanc French cheesecake. But then, it’d sound much more flamboyant that what it is.
Because it is not. It’s a plain, slightly sour from the fromage blanc (however, Greek yoghurt makes and excellent substitute) and warm with vanilla (by any mean, please use homemade vanilla sugar) cake.
If eaten piping hot from the oven, it’s the softest thing you’ve ever had. And in the morning, after a night spent on the kitchen counter, it becomes firm and yet delicate; a form, which is without a doubt my favourite.
You could also add the zest from a lemon or an orange. Or fold in a light jam right before you pour the batter into its tin. I often don’t. For the sake of its plain, unpretentious character.
Fromage blanc cake
4 eggs, separated
a pinch of salt
100 g caster sugar
500 g fromage blanc or Greek yoghurt
100 g cornflour or plain flour
30 g vanilla sugar
Preheat the oven to 175°C (185°C for traditional ovens). Butter and line the bottom of a 22cm cake pan with baking paper, and set aside.
Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until foamy. Add half the sugar and keep on whisking until they reach hard peaks.
In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks and remaining sugar until light and fluffy. Gently fold in the fromage blanc, cornflour and vanilla sugar.
Then, using a rubber spatula, fold in the meringue until barely smooth: it’s absolutely fine to still have bits of egg whites in the finished batter.
Transfer to your prepared tin, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until well-domed and golden-brown. The top might have cracked a little and it should feel firm to the touch.
Allow the cake to cool down to room temperature in its tin, then unmould onto a plate. Serve dusted with icing sugar or with berries, just brought to the boil with a spoonful of caster sugar.