In general, to compare making a savoury cake to that of a sweet one, there is only one phrase to sum it all up: same-same but different. Obviously there is no sugar in the former, while butter makes way for olive oil, sunflower oil or even white wine. Instead of chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruits, ingredients such as ham, sausage, shrimp, cheese, olives, capsicum, zucchini are used. There is even one recipe in the book with chicken gizzard.
But thank God my husband prefers simple combinations of ham, cheese, olives for the cakes, just so he could pair it with something else on the side. Just a few suggestions here: lightly tossed greens, chopped salad like tabbouleh, coleslaw, warm tender carrots for a light dinner, or rock melon with prosciutto on a super-hot day.
I will be lying if I tell you it is easy to make these. (I will share with you my mistakes at the end of this post.) But they are nonetheless edible as long as you pop a nice homogenous batter into the oven. It can be done with a balloon whisk or wooden spoon - you just need to work your arm muscles crazily for some ten seconds when incorporating the oil. Remember to hug the mixing bowl with your left arm to keep the bowl still while stirring with your right hand, and then repeat the process changing arms. Crazy, I know, but it costs nothing.
150 g all-purpose flour, plus 1 tablespoon for later
2 teaspoon baking powder
150 ml extra-virgin olive oil
150 ml milk
(Optional) Salt and pepper, to taste
75 g sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (pat dry first if previously soaked in oil)
75 g kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
150 g ham, diced
100 g parmesan cheese, shredded
1. Grease and flour a 28-cm loaf pan. Preheat the oven at 180°C.
2. Mix the flour, baking powder and eggs thoroughly in a large mixing bowl.
3. Add the oil and incorporate it until a homogenous batter is obtained. (This is where you work the hardest. It's downhill all the way after this.)
4. Add the milk and continue to stir until the batter is smooth. Add a pinch of salt and pepper if you wish.
5. In a smaller bowl, shake the sun-dried tomatoes, olives, ham and cheese with the tablespoon of flour.
6. Fold the ingredients from step 5 into the batter, and then pour the batter into the loaf pan.
7. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or when a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Look carefully at the picture above. Nice cake, right? Do you see a sunken hole right along the top? That's the day I learned something new. My baking powder had expired. The cake rose up very nicely in the oven but before I could gloat over it, it sank back right in shortly after it came out from the oven. True to what most people suggested on the internet, I checked my baking powder.
Would you agree now - the savoury cake is simple and yet each time you make it, there will be something particular which you could improve on. They are all edible, so nothing for you to fear. But the day my cake comes out perfect, like really, perfect, I will take at least twenty shots of it.
Meanwhile one just has to keep on trying.