Saturday, May 14, 2011

NOT Ham and Olive cake

It appears I am a little obsessive. Since making my first savoury cake last week, I've become a bit of a savoury cake-freak. I'm sure it isn't a coincidence therefore that I found a recent article in The Guardian on a savoury cake by Hugh-Fearnley Whittingstall, you know the River Cottage guy. I don't believe in coincidences so rather than ignore or tempt fate, I made this cake.

One thing needed to be tweaked though: I had to replace the ham in the recipe with vegetarian ham. I am sure mushrooms (like the meaty Portobello) would be great too. Nope, will save the mushrooms for next time.

Whittingstall recommends this cake for elevenses. Elevenses! Gosh, I'd forgotten about the term elevenses. My mum used it all the time and I don't remember when or why we switch to using the word 'brunch' instead? Urggh. Anyway, the cake can be eaten all on its own for elevenses (what a word!) or with a light salad which would make for a prefect light lunch.

It's really easy to put together too. No whisking or creaming involved. Well, only a little whisking.

Another plus? It's really adaptable. Following the basic recipe, you can play around with the fillings. If you don't care for olives or ham (vegetarian or not), you can opt for broccoli, red peppers, zucchini... options abound.

Although, olives and ham (even vegetarian ham) really go well.

So what does a savoury cake have that a sweet dessert cake doesn't? 

Ham and olives, for starters. Parmesan cheese. Paprika. Pepper.

There is, obviously, no sugar or butter. No chocolate, no fruit.

There are four common ingredients though: flour, olive oil, baking powder and eggs.

Now, if you thought the smell of a pound cake (or any cake) was the best thing ever; think again. The smell of this little monster in the oven is just unbelievable. I could hardly wait for the cake to finish and kept going back to the oven to check. Has it risen? Is it done? The olive oil, Parmesan cheese and ham (who ever thought fake ham could smell so good) truly make for some magic aromas.

The result?

Fantastic. I love, love, love this savoury cake. I took some along with me to the office to share the goodness with my colleagues. I found myself shamelessly eating a fair share of it. And if gorging on my own food isn't bad enough, I couldn't help but gush about it. Shameless. But not without cause. 

This cake is loaded.

Not Ham and Olive Cake

150 ml olive oil
250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried thyme (or 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped)
100g Parmesan, shaved or grated
180g vegetarian ham, roughly chopped
130g green olives, pitted and roughly chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
150 ml milk
4 eggs

Heat oven to 200C. Grease and line a 6-inch round or square pan with parchment. 

Sift the flour, baking powder and paprika into a bowl. Add the salt and pepper and whisk. Add the Parmesan, thyme, ham and olives. 

In a separate bowl, whisk the oil, eggs and milk together till incorporated. 

Stir the fry ingredients into the batter and stir to mix. Not too much. 

Pour into the baking pan and bake for 35-45 mins until a tester comes out clean. You can also use a loaf pan but this requires a little more time. Whittingstall suggests muffin tins too, which probably need only 12 - 15 mins baking time. 

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