The Recipe: A moist, sturdy savory cake, strewn with bits of soft cauliflower with a touch of parmesan. An excellent choice for Mother's Day, a summer meal, a Meatless Monday.
The Conversation: Learning to like a savory cake over the course of an afternoon.
All day, on Easter, I talked to this cake, back 'n' forth, back 'n' forth. It sounded a lot like head-talk for a new romance: an initial rush of attraction, the pang of early disappointment but still, letting the relationship unfold over time, opening up extra chances to win me over, and finally, falling completely, totally, unstoppably in love. Here's how it went.
Going into the oven, "You are so pretty, I hope you taste good!"
Out of the oven, hot. "Hmm. I thought you would be more eggy. You know, like for breakfast, definitely eggs but with a twist. But you are definitely cake, albeit savory. And honestly? I'm not sure that's a good thing."
The first slice, still quite warm. "Yeah, you are definitely too cakey. Next time, I'll cut the flour way back for something more like a Spanish torta."
A second mini slice, room temperature. "You're the best a hot chef can do? What's all the fuss about, you are just a fancy Bisquik pie!"
After a few hours left on the counter. "Wow! I love how moist you're getting! And now I can really taste the parmesan! And the cauliflower, you really know it's there! Your texture is perfect, you really 'are' a cake! And that's a very good thing!"
After cutting off two or three more skinny slices. "Wow. You are amazing. And so sturdy, I'd like to take you to an outdoor meal. Better yet – on a picnic on a blanket some warm summer night, with glasses of chilled white wine and fresh fruit. Or on a footed platter for brunch!"
So yes, while Savory Cauliflower Cake turned out to be more cakey than eggy and it took some time for the flavors to meld to really appreciate its synergies, I fell head-over-heals in total l-o-v-e with it in the course of an afternoon. Once again, cauliflower surprises and delights!
The recipe comes from Israeli-born Yotam Ottolenghi, the hot UK restaurant owner and chef, also the author of two of my favorite cookbooks, Jerusalem and the vegetarian Plenty – although this recipe was published in his weekly column in UK newspaper The Guardian. I bookmarked his Cauliflower Cake eons ago but it wasn't until Easter that the occasion seemed right. Timing is everything, in relationships and this time, in cauliflower cakes.
SAVORY CAULIFLOWER CAKE
Time to table: 2 hours but best when left to rest at least 6 hours
Makes 1 large cake, serving 16
- Butter, for greasing
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, optional but a nice finishing touch, white and black are dramatic
- Well-salted water
- 7 cups small cauliflower florets (about 21oz/600g)
ONIONS & PEPPERS
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 sweet mini peppers, sliced thin
- 8 large eggs, whisked
- 1/4 cup chopped chive
- Cooked, cooled onion
- 2 cups (250g) grated parmesan cheese
- 1-1/2 cups flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring or 180g
- 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Cooked, drained cauliflower
- Cooked pepper rings
- Fresh chives
Set oven to 350F. Butter the bottom of a 10-inch/25cm springform pan, cover with a circle of parchment and butter the parchment. Butter the sides of the pan, press sesame seeds to the sides. Refrigerate to keep the sesame seeds attached to the sides.
CAULIFLOWER Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil, drop in cauliflower and let cook until quite soft but not mushy, about 15 minutes. Drain well in a colander.
ONIONS & PEPPERS In a skillet, heat oil until shimmery, add onions and peppers and let gently cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are cooked but not turning color. Lift out the pepper rings and set aside. Let onions cool.
SAVORY BATTER Combine the eggs, chive and cooked onion in a large bowl. Separately, stir together the parmesan, flour, baking powder, turmeric, salt and pepper. Turn flour mixture into the egg mixture, mixing just until combined, it's okay for bits of flour to remain visible for now. Turn in the cauliflower, distributing throughout.
GARNISH Turn batter into the springform pan, smoothing the top. Arrange pepper rings and chives on top.
BAKE Bake for about 40 minutes until the cake is set, the edges beginning to pull away from the sides.
TO SERVE To serve hot, let cool for 5 min, cut into slices and serve. To serve warm, let cool for 30 minutes, cut into slices and serve. To serve at room temperature (my favorite), let rest for about 6 hours (cover after the cake is fully cool), then slice and serve. Best the same day.
ABOUT SERVING SIZE Serving size is a little hard to gauge, here. I'm going with 16, which I think would be a "side" serving, say with bacon and fruit salad for breakfast but in a buffet (or that dreamy picnic I keep coming back to) I think people would slice off much thinner slices, so that would mean 32 or even 40 slices. That's a lot, I know! That's why next time I make this, I'm going to convert the recipe to fit a smaller springform pan.
Love the Many Incarnations of Cauliflower? Me Too!
Shop Your Pantry First
© Copyright 2014 Kitchen Parade