I’m currently making my way through The Sweet Life in Paris by acclaimed pastry wizard David Lebovitz. It’s an entertaining read as far a food memoirs go, but it’d probably be ten times funnier had I actually lived in Paris. No matter. A jaunt to the City of Lights is not essential for appreciating Parisian quirks and delights.
According to Mr. Lebovitz, zee French are crazy about savory quick breads. Known to locals as le cake (pronounced “kek”), they are served as an “hors d’oeuvre before dinner, thinly sliced, with glasses of cool Muscadet or a snappy Souvignon Blanc.” This Cake au Chèvre et aux Olives is appealing from top to bottom, inside and out—the edges are smoky with bacon essence, while the goat cheese and olive studded innards are rich and complex. A generous slice makes for an interesting and satisfying bite anytime of day, whether eaten before dinner as the Parisians do, or for le snack as Americans are so fond of.
- Bacon fat (or butter) for preparing the pan
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/4 cup very fruity olive oil (I recommend Greece’s Gaea brand)
- 1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
- 1/4 cup scallions, chopped
- 6 oz well-crumbled goat cheese
- 2 oz grated Parmesan
- 1/4 cup finely chopped pitted green or black olives
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch loaf pan with bacon grease or butter and line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, chili powder, and salt.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, olive oil, yogurt, and scallions until smooth.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and use a rubber spatula to stir in the wet mixture, stirring just until the wet ingredients are almost incorporated. (A bit of flour should still be visible.) Don’t overmix.
Fold in the goat cheese, Parmesan, and olives until everything is just moistened. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the cake springs back when you gently touch the center. Let the cake cool for 5 minutes, then tilt it out onto a wire cooling rack. Peel off the parchment paper and let cool upright before slicing.