The first time I had a savory cake in France, I was at a cocktail party talking about Beijing, my home of four years. “It was an interesting experience, but difficult,” I said. “La ville est très salée.”
Everyone laughed uproariously — including me (though with decidedly less gusto). I also blushed because I knew the difference between sale — dirty — and salé — salty. But give me a glass of wine and the pressure of a cocktail party and who knows what nonsense will come out of my mouth?
Of course, I was probably distracted by the delicious cake salé on offer at the party, a booze-soaked version larded with ham and cheese. I had salé on the mind, you might say.
I baked this savory cake with Roquefort and walnuts for lunch at a friend’s country house last week. Thirty seconds after I took this photo, I tried to unmold the cake and it stuck to the pan, breaking into chunks all over the counter. Cake-tastrophe! I managed to pat it back together (sort of) and, thankfully, its odd shape didn’t affect the taste.
The moral of the story? Mistakes happen but you can usually patch them up and (maybe) laugh about them. And: Always, always, always grease and flour your cake pan — no matter what the recipe says.
Cake au Roquefort et aux noix
(Adapted from Les Cakes de Sophie by Sophie Dudemaine)
150 grams flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup mild-tasting oil (sunflower seed, olive, vegetable)
1/2 cup milk
100 grams Gruyère, grated
150 grams Roquefort
80 grams walnuts, toasted and chopped
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Butter and flour a loaf pan.
In a large bowl, mix the eggs with the flour and baking powder. Add the oil and milk slowly, alternating between the two. Stir in the grated Gruyère and season lightly (remember, the cheeses are very salty). Crumble the roquefort into the batter and add the nuts. Stir gently to combine.
Transfer the batter into your prepared loaf pan and bake for 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.