Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Cake Salé - Courgette and Feta Loaf

I've been interested in savoury cakes for a while now, but never seem to have the opportunity to make one. As I'm attempting to lose weight, following CT's departure (although not related to it, except that I don't need to bake as much now), the time has come to think about eating less sugar. FB has been worrying about eating too much sugary food at work too, so any new direction in baking will benefit her too, by making her lunch boxes healthier.

Cake Salé has been growing in popularity in France for a few years now, and although the classic combination of flavours is Ham and Olives, there are dozens of delicious sounding combinations around in recipes on the internet. Anything you have, as long as it's not too wet, can be baked into a savoury cake! A slice of Cake Salé served with a salad makes a light summer lunch, or serve alongside a robust soup with complimentary flavours as a more filling winter meal.  Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall suggests thin slices as pre-dinner nibbles and it also seems an ideal transportable food to me, either to summer picnics or warmly spiced and served as you stand around the the bonfire, watching fireworks and celebrating the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot. If you like savoury food for breakfast, then these cakes should go down well then too as they are so versatile; I just had a small slice with my evening coffee!

My savoury cake was made primarily to help demolish the courgette mountain - because we let a few grow large while we were away, we can't seem to catch up and get back to the point where we can pick small courgettes. I based my recipe loosely on this one from The Kitchn, which in turn was adapted from an article and recipe in the NY Times. I made a few more adaptations to suit the ingredients I had in the store cupboard, and to give a fuller flavour. I also 'translated' the ingredients to metric weights:

225g coarsely grated courgette (skin on), salted with 1 teaspoon salt and left to drain while the batter is prepared.
225g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
plenty of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3 large eggs
80ml milk
80mls extra virgin olive oil
50g crumbled feta cheese
a few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked
5 garlic-stuffed green olives, halved and sliced
about 50g pinenuts to scatter on top

After mixing the flour, baking powder, pepper and oregano in a large bowl, the eggs were beaten with the oil and milk until amalgamated. The wet ingredients were mixed into the dry, then the cheese, olives and thyme leaves were folded in. Lastly the drained courgette was stirred in, after pressing well to remove as much moisture as possible. The batter was transferred to a 2lb loaf tin lined with baking parchment, levelled and sprinkled with pinenuts. The loaf was baked at 180C for about 1 hr - the original recipe suggested 45 minutes, but my loaf tin is broad and deep so cooking took a bit longer!

I really enjoyed this savoury cake. The feta cheese gave a salty tang, but the over-riding flavour was from the garlicky olives and the very green and grassy extra virgin olive oil - one occasion when a good oil makes a huge contribution. As with the sweet courgette muffins I made recently, the flavour of the courgette was negligable, but they add moistness and contribute to the appearance with the green flecks from the skin. I'm looking forward to trying some more flavour combinations in the future! As Hugh F-W says in his Guardian article - stick to the same proportions of flour, eggs, fat and liquid, and play around as much as you like with the other additons!


Foodycat said...

It looks really good! Do you have a new camera? This is a very impressive photo!

Suelle said...

Thanks! Just my regular camera - I guess I got lucky with the light.

belleau kitchen said...

Was just about to say the photos are very good. Light is unbelievably important! The cake looks wonderful and I too am getting into savoury cakes now. Bring on the revolution!

Chele said...

You are brave - I can't bring myself to go savory at all. Looks fantastic though so you are helping me pluck up some courage ;0)

Phil in the Kitchen said...

This does sound really good. I've always enjoyed savoury cakes - they are very versatile. I've had a few strange looks when I've served them up sometimes. I think the idea of 'savoury' and 'cake' confuses some people.

Miss C Flash said...

I've never tried a savoury cake, but your beautiful photos are making me change my mind :-) x