The other day I had some friends over for a drink. Normally, I’d unscrew the top off a bottle of white, rip open a bag of potato chips and call it a day ;) But these weren’t just any friends — they were food bloggers. I wanted to go the extra mile.
A couple of weeks earlier, I’d made a savory Roquefort pecan cake to serve at a birthday picnic, and so I had the itch to create another — one perfumed with late summer’s beckoning flavors: the glut of zucchini, the voracious bushes of mint, tangy goat cheese. (My friend Jenny also inspired my subconscious.) I cobbled together a recipe based on Les Cakes de Sophie by Sophie Dudemaine, a fun cookbook devoted to the savory cake. My “cake salé” baked as I rifled through the liquor cabinet, mulling over cocktail ideas.
When the timer went off, the cake looked and smelled delicious — golden with blistered cheese — but as soon as I pulled it out of the oven, I knew something was wrong. For one thing, the loaf pan felt like it weighed about forty pounds. I let the cake cool, and when I sliced into it I found a dense, wet, heavy interior — more like bread pudding than the fluffy, courgette-threaded cake of my dreams.
Alas, time was running short. My guests were due to arrive in a few minutes. I had no time to make another cake, or even run to the store to buy an extra tube of Pringles. So, I pulled a Julia Child — “never apologize” — zipped my lips shut and served it. As we sipped ginger-mint margaritas and chatted about the state of olive oil in 2015 (which, I learned, is dire), my mind kept churning over the recipe — what went wrong? How could I fix it?
The batter was too wet, I decided. So, a few days later, I sat down to rejigger the recipe, drastically reducing the amount of liquid. When I finally had the chance to bake another cake, voilà — it was delicious. Moist and tender, with a light crumb, studded with chunks of chèvre and perfumed with fresh mint, this cake makes a lovely cocktail snack, or a light meal paired with a green salad. Best of all, the recipe comes together quickly, and you can feel confident it will work!
Savory courgette, mint, and goat cheese cake
Butter and flour for greasing the pan
1 1/2 cups (160 grams) flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup (100 grams) Comté or Gruyère cheese, grated
1 cup (150 grams) zucchini, grated
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
7 ounces (200 grams) fresh goat cheese, crumbled
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Butter and flour a 9-inch metal loaf pan.
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Add the eggs, oil, Comté cheese, zucchini, and mint, stirring to combine. Gently fold in the goat cheese, making sure the crumbles don’t disintegrate. Pour the batter in the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes. If the top starts to brown too much, cover loosely with a piece of tented aluminum foil and continue baking. Cool on a rack for twenty minutes before slicing.