We all have a notion of what cakes should look like and taste like. We expect a sweet, vanilla or chocolate flavor. Sometimes there's the zing of spice or punch of fruit. We never expect there to be a savory taste. Yet, there's a whole new breed of them out there - savory cakes.
The notion has intrigued me ever since I read about it in David Tanis' A City Kitchen column in last Wednesday's New York Times Food section. He offers a carrot cake, but not the kind loaded with raisins and frosted with cream cheese icing. This one has not a speck of sugar in it, save for the grated carrots. The base is white cornmeal mixed with white flour. Not only are grated carrots added but also zingy scallions along with cumin and black mustard seeds.Like sweet cakes, there are eggs to give it body as well as baking powder and baking soda to give it lift. Unlike its' sugary cousins, feta cheese is also added. Mr. Tanis frosts his with creme fraiche and is decorated with cilantro sprigs and more scallions. It would go well with the potluck recipe from Melissa Clark's A Good Appetite column. It can also go with salads too, as Mr. Tanis suggests or possible as something to dipped into the yolks of sunny side up eggs.
The entire idea of of a non-sweet cake is fascinating. There are savory cookie recipes,from wafers to shortbreads. These are usually served as hors'd'oeuvres or with soups, a different change up from crackers. Savory cakes? Are there any, besides Mr. Tanis' recipe? Yes. Eating Well offers one loaded with cauliflower and garbanzo bean flour. Roasted pepper and dill give it color while feta and eggs give it body.It's served warm and alone so it's meant to be eaten as the main course. It would work with a plain salad on the side or possibly grilled chicken breasts or salmon. Food 52 has a recipe for a savory sausage breakfast cake that's chock full of pork sausage, onion and cheddar cheese. The cake element comes with the flour, baking powder and soda along with eggs and milk.Mayo is added for smoothness and a silky crumb. This would be the perfect brunch cake, with a slice accompanying an omelet or again dipped into a sunny side up egg. A slice would also make a good breakfast or even
lunch on the go too.It would be interesting to make any of these savory cake recipes into cupcakes, frosted with creme fraiche or plain cream cheese or dusted with cumin or paprika.
Savory cakes instead of the traditional sweet? What an interesting idea? It certainly changes the way we think about and eat cake.