Cakes Salés

In my recent kitchen experiments, I came across something interesting – cakes salés, or savoury cakes. But first, how did it all come about –

I decided to try baking breads, because:
a) homemade bread is healthier than store-bought
b) since I like to bake, I might as well bake something non-sinful (less sugary, less chocolaty, ie. no more Nutella cupcakes etc)
c) bread is something that everyone in my household & my bf eats, so I won’t be stuck with leftovers. A Logical Choice!

Before embarking on baking with yeast. I thought I’ll try out quick breads (another new term!) first. According to Wikipedia, Quick bread is a type of bread which is leavened with leavening agents other than yeast. Basically it’s just a mixture of dry ingredients and wet ingredients plus a leavening agent, and then put in the oven. No kneading of dough, no leaving anything to rise.

The first quick bread I tried was the ultimate starter quick bread – beer bread. I am no drinker. I don’t like the taste of beer. But it did make sense. Beer has yeast. And my brother, who has baked this bread before while studying overseas, assured me that it tasted good, and “the alcohol evaporates”. This is the recipe I used, from All Recipes. I used Corona beer.

The end result – the bread did look a lot like a real loaf that you’ll find in an artisan bakery. It had a thick, hearty sourdough kind of texture, and a nice crust. However, even though all fresh bread taste delicious straight from the oven, I did smell and taste the beer at first bite. This bread also did not last long, even though I wrapped it in foil and kept it in an airtight container. After 2 days, it started to taste “chalky”.

While searching online for more quick bread recipes that didn’t involve beer, I discovered the term cakes salés, from this amazing New York Times article:

Cake salé is like a homey and crumbly equivalent of the delicate cheese puffs gougères: a salty, cheesy excuse to open a bottle of wine. You won’t find them in a pastry shop or restaurant. Unless you spend time with a French family, you may never encounter them. They turn up at picnics, office parties, potlucks, fund-raisers and funerals.

Well I like to think that with my experiments with savory quick breads, I’m attempting honest French cooking.

This week’s bread (or cakes salés) was a recipe from One Perfect Bite, but with some modifications. It’s based on her recipe for Herb Bread. I love it even better than the beer bread! But maybe I’m biased because I’m such a fan of pesto sauce.

Parmesan and Pesto Bread

Ingredients:
1 cup plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
2 tablespoons pesto sauce
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
dash of dried thyme leaves

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease and flour a 1 bread pan. Set aside.
2) Sieve flour, baking powder, and salt. Lightly give a stir to the dry ingredients together with a whisk.
3) Add eggs, pesto and yoghurt to the dry ingredients. With a wooden spoon, mix together with the dry ingredients. (do not over mix)
4) Add cheese and herbs and mix everything together, (do not overmix)
5) Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in center of oven for 30 minutes or until firm and golden brown. Remove from oven. Let cool for 10 minutes. Turn onto a rack to cool to room temperature.

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