You say CAKE, they say “CAAK”

Or…”I say tomato, you say tomaato.” When we lived in Paris our great friend and co-worker sometimes invited us for dinner at his place. We relished those special evenings with he and his wife, who is a beautiful, elegant French woman, and a fantastic cook. The French culture is quite private, so an invitation to dine in someone’s home is a true gesture of friendship. Before the meal she often prepared some “cake“. Cake? To start a meal? Well, it wasn’t a typical American cake, which in France would be a “gateau“. Instead, this kind of cake  (which the French pronounce more or less as “caak” )  is a rich and savory loaf with the approximate texture of a banana bread, usually leavened with baking powder.

We loved those dinners, from the first to the last course (the latter always being a selection of cheeses), but the opening “cakes” were likely my favorite part. When I left France I brought along photocopies of her recipes, and also managed to buy two cookbooks that exclusively describe those savory loaves. Yes, that’s how much I loved them! So, I dedicate this post to our friends, Alain and Corinne!

This version comes from “Sophie’s Sweet and Savory Loaves.” It’s a delicious blend of zucchini and feta cheese. As you can see from the photo, I leave the feta in large chunks… for little bursts of sharpness and flavor.

(adapted from Sophie’s recipe)

2 T olive oil
1 medium zucchini, cut in 1/3-in slices
3 large eggs
1 cup + 2 T all purpose flour, sifted
1 + 3/4 tsp baking powder
salt and black pepper to taste
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk, hot
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
3 T cilantro leaves, minced

Heat the oven to 350F. Grease a loaf pan with butter or shortening.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet and saute the slices of zucchini until they get soft and golden on both sides. Remove from the pan, drain over paper towels to remove excess fat. Reserve.

Combine the eggs, flour, baking powder, 2 pinches of salt and pepper, and beat with an electric mixer until well combined. Add the hot milk and the oil, and beat until smooth. Add the Gruyere cheese, zucchini, feta, and cilantro, mixing well with a wooden spoon or spatula.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack, allow it to cool for 15 minutes, then remove the loaf from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Savory cakes embellish the cooking repertoire of anyone interested in entertaining, potlucks, picnics, brunches, or late night munchies… They are simple to make, and you can add almost anything you wish in the basic mix. Leftover roast chicken? Dice it and add it, maybe with some roasted red peppers and basil… Smoked salmon, ham, black olives, sundried tomatoes, roasted eggplant… they all have their place in such recipes. Just combine flavors that match together, to the delight of your guests.

For this loaf, I prepared the zucchini the day before and saved it in the fridge. Next day, I only had to assemble the ingredients…
… eggs, milk, oil,  flour, feta cheese, sauteed zucchini…

Add them to the prepared loaf pan….

and bake it!

Allow the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes, remove it, slice it, and serve it to your lucky guests!