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French Savory Cake with Ham, Cheese, and Olives

French Savory Cake with Ham, Cheese, and Olives

This French savory cake is filled with scrumptious, savory ingredients: salty ham, aged cheese, and briny olives. A must for a francophile happy hour!

French Savory Cake with Ham, Cheese, and Olives // FoodNouveau.com

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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.

French Savory Cake with Ham, Cheese, and Olives // FoodNouveau.com

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.

French Savory Cake with Ham, Cheese, and Olives // FoodNouveau.com

 
French Savory Cake with Ham, Cheese, and Olives // FoodNouveau.com

French Savory Cake with Ham, Cheese, and Olives 

This French savory cake is filled with scrumptious, savory ingredients: salty ham, aged cheese, and briny olives. A must for a francophile happy hour!
Prep Time:15 minutes
Cook Time:45 minutes
Total Time:1 hour
Author Marie Asselin, FoodNouveau.com

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 9 x 5-in (23 x 12 cm) loaf pan (see note for other size options). Line the bottom and two longer sides of the pan with a sling of parchment paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, herbes de Provence, salt, and pepper. In a second bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, and olive oil. Pour the mixture over the dry ingredients and stir, using a spatula, until just combined. Fold in the cheese, ham, and olives. Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan. Use the spatula to smooth out the surface.
  • Bake until the bread is puffed and golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Pull on the parchment paper to unmold the cake, running a knife around the pan if necessary. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  • Slice the bread and serve at room temperature, or warm in a 300°F (150°C) oven for 10 minutes before serving.
  • STORAGE: The flavors of this French savory cake keep developing as it sits, which makes it even better the next day. If you can, make it in advance, let it rool completely, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Warm in a 300°F (150°C) oven for 10 minutes before serving.
  • French savory cake will keep refrigerated, tightly wrapped, for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 1 month.
  • NOTE: The batter can also be baked in two small loaf pans (6 x 3.5 in / 15 x 9 cm) for about 25 minutes, or in a standard muffin pan. Line the pan with parchment paper cups. Divide the batter between the cups and bake for 20 minutes, or until the savory cupcakes are lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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Author: Marie Asselin

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

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  1. Do you think it would be ok to use plain Greek yoghurt? What brand are you referring to when you say plain regulat yoghurt? There’s too ma y options these days!
    Thank you

    • Hi there! Plain Greek yogurt would in theory work just as good as regular yogurt. The difference is that Greek yogurt is much thicker than regular yogurt, which would result in a very thick batter. If using Greek yogurt, I’d 3 parts yogurt for 1 part milk just to make it easier to mix into the batter. Hope this helps!

  2. I found this page while searching for a cake salė recipe I made a while back, and lost. It called for buttermilk and butter. I never found it, so I made this oil bread instead. I subbed thick cultured buttermilk for the yogurt, and jarred, roasted red peppers (whole, diced) for the ham. I also added some chunky olive tapenade, for brightness (a scant quarter cup). I used Comte cheese, and the peppercorns I ground were mixed with dried lemon peel. My olives were the grilled, green olives sold by Trader Joe’s. The result was very good, but a tad oily right out of the oven. I think it will taste better tomorrow. I still need to do some tweaking on this meat-free version, but this is a very good, basic recipe. The next time I make it, I will try adding capers instead of the tapenade. I have a feeling roast carrots would work, too.

    • Hi Pat! This cake definitely benefits from an overnight rests. It gets so much better! All your substitution and filling ideas sound extremely tasty. Happy you’re enjoying this irresistible savory cake!

    • Hi Dasha! You could use chopped up veggie sausage, or quite simply omit the ham and substitute it with another vegetable, such as sliced asparagus or chopped baby spinach!

  3. Hi! Can’t wait to make this. I’m wondering if I can make it in a regular round cake pan? I want to make it for a friend who doesn’t like sweets for his birthday and thought it’d be fun if it was in more of a cake shape.

    • Hey Katie, I’m so sorry I didn’t get around to replying you more quickly! Sure you could absolutely make this cake in a round shape! Making this savory cake as a birthday cake is such a fun idea! I would advise using an 8 in (20 cm) pan and probably bake for 35-40 minutes, keeping a close eye on the cake from the 30 minute mark. Let me know if you made it and used a different cooking time! I’d love to update my recipe following your experience with it.

  4. Just out of hospital, my son is here from Dijon France, hubby and French looking after me. Son, suggest something savoury. Told me how they eat this with a glass or two. Found your recipe, absolutely perfect, love it. 💕🇬🇧

    • It’s so lovely to read from you Rosemary. Happy this delicious savory cake contributed to welcoming you back home! (It is indeed great with a glass or two of wine!)

  5. Followed your advice and it was perfect. Thank you so much. I adore this recipe so much. Really well put together recipe and instructions. Great taste.

    • Hello again Esca! So I’m worried the cake wouldn’t fit into a 7″ round cake pan. A 9×5″ loaf pan has a volume of 8 cups, whereas a 7″ round cake pan would probably be around 5 or 6 cups, depending on the height of the pan. The cake mixture will likely fill your 7″ pan too high and the cake will overflow while baking. I would suggest using a 9″ round pan (such as a springform pan) if you have one, or dividing the mixture between muffin cups instead.

      I hope these tips will help!

  6. Do you think I could exchange olives for jalepinos (allergies) – my partner has been looking for a savoury cake for a while and this looks so good!

    • Hi Esca! Yes, you could omit the olives and use jalapenos instead but don’t substitute the quantity of olives vs jalapenos 1:1 because I think the cake would turn up way too spicy! I would halve and seed *one* jalapeno, then slice it to incorporate into the recipe. However, if nuts are not an issue allergy-wise, I would recommend using walnuts instead of olives. French savory cakes usually have a mild, salty flavor so nuts would be a natural flavor match in here. Let me know which ingredient you decide to use and how you like the result!