Who doesn’t like cake? Layer, pound, torte, sponge, flourless, yeast, bundt, chiffon, and of course birthday. Don’t get me started on flavors. We could be here all day. Cake is so beloved that there’s very little room to trod new territory. But what about a savory cake? Is that a “thing”? Of course, there are crab cakes and fish cakes, or even nut loaves. I’ve had a pasta cake too, but it seemed more like a casserole than a cake. These delicious creations aren’t quite what I mean. I mean a savory cake with the same proper crumb of its sweet brethren.
The French have been keen on the savory cake for a while. Go to any posh Parisian bakery and you’ll find savory cakes called cakes salés. I first tried my hand at a cake salé when I made Yotam Ottolenghi’s Cauliflower Cake. So at least I had some reference points when I began to develop this Savory Carrot Cake with Feta and Cumin.
Since the savory cake isn’t quite the “thing” as the sweet cake there’s a lot of room for interpretation. Meats, nuts, and vegetables all seem like good choices. You could also fortify the batter to make it more interesting depending on your mood and what you have in the pantry. For a more substantial texture try combining wheat flour with ground grains or nuts to add a depth of flavor and a nutritional boost. Cornmeal makes a tasty choice too. Of course, you’ll need some sort of savory “frosting”. Flavored cream cheese would be a natural choice. Though a simple sauce or salsa could also provide enough contrasting texture in my opinion. Since my cake most resembles a pound cake I’ve replaced sweet whipped cream with a dollop of minty yogurt. The very creative might consider a savory sorbet too.
Though a French cake salé is typically served as an and I’ve served them that way before) I think a labor-intensive savory cake should be more than an afternoon snack. There are savory quick bread recipes to turn to at teatime or cocktail hour. So when do you suppose we should serve this culinary anomaly? Not for dessert, obviously. Not as a starchy side dish either. It’s too special to be relegated to the second tier.to be enjoyed with an aperitif (
I’d argue that, like all cakes, a savory cake should sit at the center of the plate. While it’s true that a savory cake seems a logical choice served with an egg at brunch or a side salad at lunch. I’d rather you consider my Savory Carrot Cake with Feta and Cumin as the centerpiece of a hearty dinner. Treat it as you would any main course and set it next to roasted potatoes, simply prepared vegetables, and a glass of wine. GREG
By: Greg HenryPrint This Recipe Total time Yield 6-8Source Inspired by Yotam OttolenghiPublished
- 4 tablespoon unsalted butter (at room temperture, plus more for greasing pan)
- 1 small onion (peeled and grated, juice retained)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3-4 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup finely ground cornmeal
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3-4 carrots (about 7 ounces, peeled and grated)
- ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
- 3 large eggs (lightly beaten)
- 2/3 cup cup milk
- 5 ounce feta cheese (crumbled)
- 15-18 red onion rings (separated)
- ½ clove garlic (peeled and minced)
- 2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- whole mint springs (for garnish)
Melt the butter in a small skillet set over a medium-low heat. Add the onion and its juice and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in cumin; set aside to cool.
Set the oven rack to the center position and preheat to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a loaf pan; line with parchment paper then butter the parchment. Toss in the sesame seeds and roll them around the insides of the pan so that they stick to the sides. Set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and cayenne pepper. Stir in the cooled, cooked onion, grated carrot, and 1 tablespoon mint. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk, then mix into the flour mixture until just combined. Gently fold in feta and pour into the prepared pan. Artfully arrange the onion rings on top.
Bake in the heated oven for about 60 minutes, depending on the size and dimension of the pan until a toothpick or skewer comes out clean. Set on a wire rack to cool in the pan for five minutes, then use the parchment to pull out the cake to cool completely on the wire rack.
Meanwhile, mix together remaining ½ cup mint, garlic, olive oil, and black pepper in a medium bowl. Refrigerate until almost ready to serve; bring to room temperature before serving.
Serve slices of cake garnished with mint sprigs and a dollop of minted yogurt.