Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Savory Cilantro Cake

Earlier this evening I caused a bit of a stir on Twitter. Nothing major, I just mentioned this "cake" and a number of people (including actual professional food writers, WHAT?) were all oh hey that sounds goooood.
Do you ever just all-of-a-sudden remember a recipe? I must have bookmarked this at least a year ago, and I made it once and promptly lost the bookmark. Luckily, I email things to myself! This past weekend I accidentally bought MORE cilantro instead of parsley (oops) and I was looking for a way to use some.

In case you wanted to know what yogurt and olive oil look like on top of a bowl of frothy eggs, now you know. I subbed yogurt for milk because I don't keep milk around, but I'm thinking perhaps I should have used buttermilk instead (oddly, I have that around more often than regular milk).

The way I remember this the first time I made it was lighter and more crumbly; I think it was the yogurt that made this incarnation denser. Freaking delicious, but denser than I remember. The original recipe is here, from Dorie Greenspan: it's a french cake salé, and she uses cheddar and chives.

The incarnation I bookmarked many moons ago was this one, with cilantro, cheddar and goat cheese. I had originally planned to use dill Havarti, but... let's just say it was past it's prime. I ended up using the not-very-French combination of 2.5 oz provolone, .5 oz Parmesan, and 2 oz cream cheese (my kitchen scale has a tare function and I l-o-v-e it). It would be an interesting addition to the Easter Brunch table, n'est-ce pas? Next to the lemony tarts and danishes and all those sweet things?

Savory Cilantro and Cheese Cake
keeps about 2 days at room temp, well wrapped, and makes excellent toast and croutons when it starts to dry out.

1 cup AP flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 to 1 tsp salt, depending on your cheeses. I used 3/4 tsp because Parmesan is pretty salty.
several grinds fresh black pepper
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup milk or yogurt
1/3 cup olive oil
3 oz cheddar or other medium hard cheese, coarsely grated
2 oz goat cheese or cream cheese, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (or other herbs, or a combination)
optional: 1/3 cup chopped walnuts or other nuts

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Put the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl and whisk the ingredients together to combine. Put the eggs in another mixing bowl; whisk for about 1 minute, until they’re foamy and blended. Whisk in the milk and olive oil.

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and, using a spatula or a wooden spoon, gently mix until the dough comes together. When there is still a little bit of dry ingredient showing, stir in the cheese, grated and cubed, the herbs and the toasted walnuts, if you’re using them, so that everything is moistened. Don't take it too far; like all quickbreads you want to be gentle with this one, lest it get tough on you. You’ll have a thick dough. Turn the dough into a buttered loaf pan and even the top with the back of the spatula or spoon.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the bread is golden and a slender knife inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack for a few minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pan and turn the loaf over onto the rack; invert and cool to room temperature right-side up.


  1. Interesting.

    I find that cilantro tastes soapy, so I might go with the original chives, but I do like this concept.

  2. MOrning HOney, I woke up thinking of this recipe, glad you posted it...always enjoyable to read your blog. Love, Mom

  3. You know, I hear that cilantro = soap thing is genetic.... and I'm sure this will be equally delicious with chives!

  4. Dried rosemary can also have a soapy taste.

  5. You're so creative. :)

    Also, I'm jealous that your mom reads your blog; I think my mother is scared of mine!

  6. Yes, this is perfect for an easter brunch! I think it will grace my table and I love that it looks so easy to make.

  7. What a great recipe! I'm going to try and make this once the stores open again (when Semana Santa) is over and I can buy more cilantro. Chives are just horribly expensive here and I have 2 pots of them out on my balcony but you can't harvest enough (without killing the plants) to make something like this.

  8. I really like the sound of this savoury bread!

  9. That sounds and looks (and must smell) divine!

    Glad I found your blog. I will definitely keep checking for updates.

  10. Very interesting. I have a bunch of cilantro to use up--maybe I'll give this a try.

    I like your blog, just stumbled across it.

  11. Just stumbled across your blog - you've got a lot of great looking recipes! I love cilantro & this recipe looks great!

  12. I too just stumbled upon your blog through Lorna's site, The Cookbook Chronicles. I am SUCH a fan of cilantro, and I have a feeling this recipe will become one of my new favorites. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Welcome SJ, Mel, Chef Fresco, and Rachel! Thanks for stopping by :)

  14. Adrienne,

    Does this sound good or what?!!! Another recipe to add to my little "recipes to make" book.


  15. I made this cake today for me and my cilantro loving friends. I was disappointed with the way it turned out though. I used havarti, goat cheese and parmesan as my cheeses and the buttermilk as suggested in the pics. I felt it lacked flavor and there was no cilantro taste to it. Not sure I will make it again.