Here’s a recipe from France, where savory loaf cakes are often served with drinks before dinner. This one started with bits of goat cheese and snips of dried figs, and then moved closer and closer to the Mediterranean. It’s got fruity olive oil, a handful of parsley (for brightness), a little rosemary and thyme (to set the mood and further establish the locale), some honey (always good with goat cheese) and scrapings of clementine zest (for surprise). You can use a neutral oil, if you’d like, olive or dried tomatoes instead of figs, basil instead of parsley, lemon instead of orange, or experiment with other cheeses. The loaf’s pleasantly crumbly, and best enjoyed cut into thick slices.
Nonstick cooking spray or butter
4 ounces/115 grams very cold soft goat cheese
4 moist, plump dried figs (such as Kalamata), cut into 1/4-inch bits
⅓ cup/20 grams finely chopped fresh parsley
1 ½ teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 ¾ cups/225 grams all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs, at room temperature
⅓ cup/80 milliliters whole milk, lukewarm
⅓ cup/80 milliliters olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 clementine or 1/2 tangerine
Center a rack in the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8- to 9-inch loaf pan with baking spray (or butter the pan).
Cut the goat cheese into 1/2-inch pieces. It’s a sticky, messy job, so don’t aim for perfection. Refrigerate the cheese until needed.
In a small bowl, toss together the figs, parsley, rosemary and thyme; keep at hand.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Working in a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until blended, then whisk in the milk, oil and honey.
Pour the wet ingredients over the flour mixture, and, using a sturdy spatula, stir until the dough is almost blended. You’ll still see streaks of flour, and that’s fine. Scatter the fig mixture over the dough, and then cover with the chilled bits of goat cheese. Grate the zest of the clementine or tangerine over the cheese. Using as few strokes as possible, stir everything together. Once again, it might not be perfect, and, once again, that’s fine. Scrape the dough into the pan, and use the spatula to poke the dough into the corners and to even the bumpy top.
Bake for 34 to 38 minutes or until the top is golden, the cake has started to pull away from the sides of the pan, and, most important, a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Unmold the cake onto a rack, turn it right side up and let it cool. You can serve the cake when it’s slightly warm (it’s not so easy to cut then, but it’s delicious) or when it is at room temperature. Cut into thick slices. Wrapped well, the cake will keep for a day or two at room temperature.
Source: NY Times
Photo: Heami Lee