Monday, April 13, 2015

Savory Cauliflower Cake



I’ve seen this recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi a lot lately – I found it on Serious Eats, but last week it was also on Gluten-Free Girl’s Instagram feed, for example. The name of it was originally cauliflower cake, but that seemed misleading to me, as if it should be sweet. It’s not, it’s definitely a main course. It’s halfway between a cake and a frittata – there’s no crust as there would be in a quiche, but there’s enough flour that the inside is closer to batter than omelet. So I’m calling a savory cake, for lack of a better word. In any event, the cauliflower almost disappears in there; the result is a delicious dish, and pretty to boot! We all loved it, even those of us who normally don’t like cauliflower. Note that I couldn’t procure nigella seeds in a brick-and-mortar store, so I replaced them with black sesame seeds.

1 small cauliflower, outer leaves removed, broken into 1¼-inch/3-cm florets (1 lb./450 g.)
1 medium red onion, peeled (6 oz./170 g.)
5 Tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp. finely chopped rosemary
7 eggs
½ cup/15 g. basil leaves, chopped
1 cup/120 g. all-purpose flour, sifted
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1/3 tsp. ground turmeric
5 oz./150 g. coarsely grated parmesan or another mature cheese
melted unsalted butter or margarine, for brushing
1 Tbsp. white sesame seeds
1 tsp nigella seeds (see note above)
salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 °F. Line the base and sides of a 9 ½-inch/24-cm springform cake pan with parchment paper. Brush the sides with melted butter, then mix together the sesame and nigella seeds and toss them around the inside of the pan so that they stick to the sides. Set aside.

Place the cauliflower florets in a saucepan and add 1 teaspoon salt. Cover with water and simmer for 15 minutes, until the florets are quite soft. They should break when pressed with a spoon. Drain and set aside in a colander to dry.


Cut 4 round slices, each ¼-inch/5 mm thick, off one end of the onion and set aside. Coarsely chop the rest of the onion and place in a small pan with the oil and rosemary. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring from time to time, until soft. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Transfer the onion to a large bowl, add the eggs and basil, whisk well, and then add the flour, baking powder, turmeric, parmesan, 1 teaspoon salt, and plenty of pepper. Whisk until smooth before adding the cauliflower and stirring gently, trying not to break up the florets.

Pour the cauliflower mixture into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly, and arrange the reserved onion rings on top. Place in the center of the oven and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown and set; a knife inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean. Remove from the oven and leave for at least 20 minutes before serving. It needs to be served just warm, rather than hot, or at room temperature.

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