So after talking about cooking for family in my last post, I thought I would share a recipe that I made for a recent early morning birthday party where there were lots of young families. My good friend Ana's daughter Karolina just turned two years old (yesterday actually!) and we celebrated her birthday at the park this past Sunday. The skies were a beautiful blue, and the weather was perfect for all the little ones to run around and play while the adults sampled a fantastic spread of brunch-type foods, including chocolate filled crescent rolls, ham and spinach quiche, blueberry scones, and this bacon and blue cheese cake.
If you were worried, this "cake" was not the one meant for the birthday girl. I hope it is clear that this cake is squarely planted in the realm of adult-food, and not exactly the type of fare that a two-year old wants to dig her cute, chubby little fingers into. (And for those curious minds out there, I'll tell you that the actual birthday cake was really awesome; it was rich chocolate cake with blue frosting and a Nemo-esque underwater scene made with gummy fish, sharks, and octopus. Little Karolina was fearless as she reached right in and grabbed the octopus by the tentacles and devoured it. I'd like to think that if someone made me a cake like that, I would do the same.)
This cake is definitely adult-food because it has all these ingredients here:
Oh no, your eyes are not deceiving you. This cake has eggs, flour, blue cheese, parmesan cheese, green onions, and bacon. BACON. I know that as you read through this little list you got pretty excited, but I probably could have just told you that it had bacon and you would have been sold. I can say that I definitely was, because ever since reading The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz, I have been looking for an excuse to make this cake. Lucky for me Karolina's early morning birthday party provided me with the perfect opportunity.
It is actually a little funny that after reading a book by king-of-sweets David Lebovitz, I was lusting after one of the few recipes from the book that has absolutely no sugar in it. Eh, c'est la vie, I suppose. But look there in my photo; I did use a dish that says "Paris" on it! Coincidence? I think not. I am definitely planning on making more than a few of his other recipes as well, but this was a fantastic starting point.
I was a little worried initially because this recipe that I was hell-bent on making gave measurements for some of the ingredients in ounces and grams. Fortunately for me, I just got this cute little used scale for the bargain price of $5 so it came in really handy. (There is really no comparison between this type of scale and those fancy digital types, but since I am saving for a new camera and other food items I don't see one of those appearing in my near future.) Even without any scale, this recipe would still be really easy to make since most cheeses come prepackaged in containers with defined weights marked in ounces or grams, or you can purchase a specific amount from your local grocer or cheese shop.
I also thought it was interesting that David described this as a "cake," since that is what Parisians would call it. It is similar in concept to banana bread, zucchini bread, beer bread, etc., in that it is baked in a loaf pan and rises just ever so slightly to a perfectly dense crumb. But by comparison, it seems to be a linguistic paradox that we assign the term "bread" to those baked goods that have sugar, and yet no yeast, but the french call it like it is and just say "cake." Are the French better masters of the English language than we are? Maybe we are both a little confused.
Either way, this cake is a glorious treat for a weekend morning, or a relaxing weekday lunch. I loved the beautiful golden brown color of the crust, and the inside is a lovely pale golden yellow that is flecked with bacon pieces and green onions. I also really enjoyed that David suggested using the extra bacon fat to grease the pan; it seemed really authentic to me, and I tell myself that it gave the crust a more intense bacon flavor, although this might just be a figment of my overactive imagination. But what was not imaginary, was the irresistible savory scent that filled my kitchen while this was baking.
I mean, can you resist a cake with bacon and cheese?
And one last thing, The Sweet Life in Paris was a amusing read where every recipe seemed to be better than the last one. I'll talk more about it in an later post, but in the meantime, pick up this book and read it. You will learn some truly interesting and comical things about The City of Light, all while laughing yourself silly and drooling over mouthwatering recipes.
David Lebovitz's Bacon and Blue Cheese Cake
Adapted from The Sweet Life in Paris, by David Lebovitz
I thought this cake was wonderful just as I prepared it, but I wanted to mention a tips for baking. First, if you are vegetarian but not vegan, simply omit the bacon. I can pretty much guarantee that the flavor would still be really great since the overwhelming taste was not the bacon, but rather the cheese. Second, whether you use bacon or not, it is up to you whether you grease the pan with butter or bacon fat. If you have never tried using the bacon fat, give it a go. And third, for the baking time, David says to remove the cake from the oven when it is golden brown, and the top "just springs back when you touch it." If you aren't sure if the cake is done, it probably is; trust yourself and don't over bake it!
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon chile powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used low fat with no detriment to the taste/texture, although David recommends full-fat)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Generous 1/4 cup minced scallions or chives
5 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola or other blue cheese (convert to grams)
2 ounces grated Parmesan (convert to grams)
6-7 strips of bacon, extra fat sliced off and reserved, well cooked, cooled, and chopped into bite-sized pieces
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and prepare a 9-inch loaf pan by greasing the sides and bottom with the reserved fat from the bacon, and then lining the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. (If you decide to make this cake and omit the bacon, just use butter here instead.) Next, in one large bowl, whisk together the first four ingredients; in a separate medium bowl, whisk the eggs and the next four ingredients to mix completely. Make a well in the center of the large bowl with the flour mixture, and add the egg mixture. Fold to incorporate the egg into the flour, but do not overwork the batter. Add in the blue cheese, Parmesan, and bacon all at once, and fold into the batter just until everything is mixed. The batter is somewhat like a big blob, but don't be worried, just scoop it into the prepared pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes. To test if it is done, look for a nice golden brown color on the top, but the edges of the cake should not be too dark. If you are not sure, err on the side of less baking time to be sure the cake does not dry out.
After taking it out of the oven, let the cake cool for 5-10 minutes on a cooling rack, and then gently remove it from the pan. Let it cool completely before attempting to cut it, and then serve in slices, or keep it at room temperature for a few days.