Friday, August 13, 2010

Guest post: Aida's Ham and Cheese Cake

At the recent Detroit Maker Faire, fellow maker Rania, of Mains de fees, shared a couple of slices of what she called "salt cake." Her friend Diane had made it and knowing from this blog that I love food, Rania wanted to make the connection between us. Diane loves to cook and I was intrigued by the "cake" she had made. It is filled with flavor — little bits of ham, salty olives, lots of herby flavor and a dense texture.

Savory ham and cheese cake recipeSavory ham and cheese cake recipe I contacted Diane and she graciously offered to share with me — and you — this recipe that has long been a favorite in her family. Voilá! The result is that today I present you with this blog's first ever guest post and recipe. Welcome, Diane!

Aida, my mother — the greatest cook — is always looking for new recipes and when we were still living in Paris, France, she discovered this salty cake in a magazine. When we tried it… what a success! It was a hit in our family and has been ever since! That makes 20 years and still counting! So when Nicole tasted it, she got hooked and here’s for you one of the favorite recipes of my family.

Aida’s Ham and Cheese Cake
Makes 1 loaf.

3 eggs
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup diced ham
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
3/4 cup olives, sliced
1 Tb herbes de provence (or a mix of dried oregano, rosemary, sage, basil & thyme)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/8 tsp active dry yeast
1/3 cup of milk
butter for the pan

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Butter a standard loaf pan.

Blanch the olives for a few seconds so they are less salty. (Note from Nicole: Place them in a strainer that you can submerge in boiling water for a minute or two and then lift out. Run under cold water for a few minutes and then drain well.) Dry them well with paper towel.

Heat milk in a small saucepan over low for a minute or two until it is between 110º and 115ºF. Remove from heat and stir in yeast until it dissolves. Let sit for five minutes. The yeast should be foamy and smell bready.

Sift together the flour, salt and pepper into a mixing bowl.

Lightly whisk eggs in a separate bowl, then add the yeast and milk combination and olive oil.

Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined. Fold in the ham, cheese, olives and herbs.

Pour batter into prepared pan — it should be no more than ¾ full. Bake until cake is just firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes on a rack, then turn out onto rack and allow to cool completely.

Savory ham and cheese cake recipe

You can always add some sun to your cake with sundried tomatoes, or toasted pine nuts, or apricot and hazelnuts. As long as you have good ham, good cheese, good olives, that’s a good start and then you can improvise!

I hope you will enjoy it! Try it with a delicious spinach and strawberries salad, with a balsamic vinaigrette!

Bon Appétit! ;)
From Aida & Diane!

I did a little more digging online to figure out the origins of "salt cakes" and found a recent article in the New York Times (it appeared just days after the salt cake crossed my lips!) that describes cake salés, or savory quick breads that in France you often find at informal family gatherings, but rarely in restaurants or markets. The article even talks about a New York chef whose French mother saves cake salé recipes clipped from women's magazines for him. Hurray for French magazines!

Thanks so much to Diane and Aida for sharing this little slice of France.
Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend!


  1. oooh! it would make an excellent lunch with salad or soup. YUM!

  2. I'm embarrassed to admit how much of this I gorged on in one sitting! In such quantities, definitely not a light lunch. SO addictively tasty.

  3. This looks awesome! thanks for the recipe.

  4. deliciously divine taste, i feel hungry.