I lived in France for a couple of years during my childhood, and all I can say is…anything they eat over there tastes good. I mean, getting a 9-year-old to eat Camembert and foie gras? Pretty impressive. Even school lunches served in the cafeteria of my tiny private Catholic school in a little Norman village were DELICIOUS. Umm…green lentils and sausages, creamy mashed potatoes, beet salad, crusty bread, and after school, at my friends’ houses, there would be apple and pear sorbets (with a shot of Calvados for the grown-ups), tart lemonade, Norman apple tarts with frangipane, brioches slathered with butter and jam… the list goes on.
The one thing I brought to culinary culture at my school in Normandy was…get this…Rice Crispies Squares. For some reason, the poor children at my school had never tried delicious marshmallowy Rice Crispies Squares and they promptly fell in love the first time I brought them to a class party. A couple of years later in my teens, when I went back to Normandy to visit, my school friends begged me to teach them how to make the crispy-chewy treats.
I have very good memories of food in France.
For a few months now, I’ve been hearing about the savory “le cake” that has been all the rage in France these days. Or at least, that’s what Gourmet magazine and Dorie Greenspan say, and they must be right, right? At first the idea sounded a little strange to me – a quickbread loaf with savory flavors? A bread textured like a cake? Odd.
Nevertheless, I tried it, and now I’m completely sold. In fact, looking at the pictures right now is making my mouth water. If ONLY I had another jar of olives in the pantry so I could make it again! I should have trusted you more, Dorie Greenspan!
The original recipe calls for chives and cheese, but really, you can add anything to this dough. Bacon bits, cubed ham, prosciutto, jalapeños, more fresh herbs… I thought olives were great in this bread though – salty and moist, they made this bread. Without sugar, the crumb of this bread is somewhat sturdier than your typical banana bread, making this loaf great for toasting and spreading with butter for a delicious breakfast or snack.
Olive-Gouda Quickbread or Savory Cake
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan on Serious Eats
I used black olives, a cheap and convenient option, but you could use Kalamata olives for a really standout flavor.
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup black olives, roughly chopped
½ cup Gouda cheese, diced
1 heaping teaspoon dried basil
Butter a 9×5” loaf pan and pre-heat oven to 350 F.
Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
In another bowl, beat the eggs until foamy, then whisk in the oil and milk.
Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients, and mix just until incorporated.
Add olives, cheese and basil, and mix in gently.
Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until top of loaf is browned and a tester inserted into cake comes out clean.