This French savory cake is filled with scrumptious, savory ingredients: salty ham, aged cheese, and briny olives. A must for a francophile happy hour!
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Cakes salés, or savory cakes, are an apéro staple in France. Serve savory cake alongside marinated olives, cured meats, and something crunchy such as pretzels or potato chips, and you’ve got the perfect spread of bites to go with a glass of bubbly wine or rosé.
You can make French savory cake so many different ways, but I like mine cheesy and brimming with textured ingredients. I’ve been making a simple ham and cheese savory cake for years, but for my cookbook, French Appetizers, I created a luxurious version that featured caramelized fennel, lemon, and Comté cheese. That recipe caught the eye of the Washington Post, who mentioned my book and included a version of my recipe with their article.
What’s great about savory cakes is that you can make them so many different ways. You can use any type of hard cheese—the more flavorful, the better—and mix in basically anything you crave for: ham, bacon, green and black olives, fresh or dried herbs, caramelized vegetables, nuts… anything goes. The important thing is not to overload the cake with too many different flavors, or you won’t get to appreciate a balanced treat.
To make a tasty French savory cake, you could, for example, pick one cheese, one protein, and one or two mix-ins. In the version of the recipe I’m sharing here, I followed this exact combination: grated Gruyère, for nutty cheesiness; ham, for a meaty, salty kick; and olives, for a briny, addictive touch.
It’s hard to go wrong when making savory cake, and once you enjoy a warm piece with a glass of wine, you’ll probably want to make sure to always keep slices in the freezer for impromptu happy hours. Here’s good news: savory cake is the perfect make-ahead happy hour treat. Indeed, the flavor of savory cake keeps developing as it sits, which means it’s even better the next day, or reheated several days later. Just make sure to wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap and freeze it in an airtight freezer bag to keep the savory cake moist and tender.
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