Have you heard of cake salé? This really popular French no yeast bread is traditionally served with drinks and is really easy to make in advance.
Full of the flavours of Provence, these little morsels are packed full of bacon, cheese, sun dried tomatoes, olives and spring onions, so there is lots of flavour in each bite.
Perfect for lunch boxes, breakfast on the go or just a quick delicious snack, I know you will love these!
About this recipe
Provençal Bread is a popular snack served with pre dinner drinks, or apéro, as they are often referred to. If you are invited for drinks to a French household, apéros can last for several hours before dinner, so it's always advisable to soak up any alcoholic beverages with little bites of food. This recipe certainly does the trick.
Of course, this dish is not just for apéros. Slice up the loaves and serve at a buffet, picnic or even a lunchbox treat. The kids can help make this too!
The term cake salé or gateaux salé, actually relates to anything cooked in a loaf pan. A sweet cake, as we know it, is known as cake sucrée.
Please don't be fooled as this recipe is packed full of Mediterranean flavours which will whisk you off to the sun-drenched south of France at any time of the year!
This recipe doesn't require any special ingredients and most of them may already be in your larder.
When a dish is termed Provençal, it's usually because it contains onions, tomatoes, garlic, peppers and perhaps courgettes or aubergines, (also known as zucchini and eggplant).
- To get a rich Mediterranean flavour I've used sun dried tomatoes in oil, but you could just use the semi dried ones in packets. If you have a glut of tomatoes in the garden in the summer you can easily make your own sun dried tomatoes by roasting them in a slow oven.
- I've also used green pitted olives for their tangy flavour. It's fine to use tinned olives or olives from a jar. For extra crunch and taste I've added sliced spring onions or scallions. Alternatively, use a chopped shallot or fry some chopped yellow onion until soft.
- This recipe also call for smoked bacon lardons. Of course, you can use any type of bacon you want or substitute cooked ham.
- My recipe also includes Parmesan cheese which is used widely in France because I wanted the cheese flavour without weighing down the loaf. You could use a Gruyère cheese instead.
- The best bit is that you only need all purpose self raising flour. There is no yeast required.
- Thyme is used a lot in French cuisine, but I tend to steer away from dried thyme as it often tends to be quite woody. I prefer to use fresh thyme and strip the leaves off the stem and then chop them. If you just have dried herbs then basil or oregano are perfect. Use 1 teaspoon of dried herbs in place of 1 tabslesoon of fresh herbs.
This recipe is extremely easy to make and best of all there is no kneading or proving.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/160FAN/Gas4 and grease 3 small loaf tins or a 500 ml/1 pint tin.
Start by frying the lardons or bacon in a pan over a medium heat without any added oil for about 5 minutes until browned. Tip the lardons onto kitchen paper to drain any excess fat for a few minutes then chop them into smaller pieces. It's easier to do this when the lardons are cooked and, if you leave the pieces too large it makes it difficult to cut the loaf.
If you are using lean bacon it's easier to chop it finely first and you may need a little oil to fry. If you are using cooked ham, just chop it finely.
Grate the Parmesan, slice the olives into rings and chop the tomatoes into small pieces. Finely slice the spring onions.
Add the flour to a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the eggs. Beat together and pour in the melted butter and milk. Mix well.
Stir in the onions, tomatoes, olives, lardons, cheese and thyme. Pour the mixture into the loaf tins.
⏲️ Baking time
Bake in the oven at 180C/350F/160FAN/Gas4 for 20-25 minutes. It will look like all the liquid is coming to the surface but all of the liquid will be absorbed.
Let them cool in the tins for a few minutes then turn out onto a rack to cool.
Slice the savoury cake when cold to serve to your guests.
For a vegetarian version of this dish simply omit the ham. You could add some chopped red pepper instead for any of the ingredients. Chopped shallots or red onion would make a change from the spring onions too. Try adding some finely chopped chillies or chopped artichokes in oil for a different flavour.
Mushroom savoury cake is also very popular. Chop some mushrooms and soften in some butter for a few minutes. Alternatively soak some dried porcini mushrooms in hot water for 10 minutes then drain and chop, before adding to the mixture.
This bread needs to be stored for up to 3 days, covered in the fridge. Freeze for up to a month unsliced.
In the UK it is easy to buy flour that has already had the raising agent added to it. If this is not available you will need to add 1 teaspoon of baking powder to each 100g or ½ a cup of flour.
To make 1 teaspoon of baking powder use half a teaspoon of cream of tartar and a quarter teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda.(The remaining quarter teaspoon would normally be a filler such as cornflour in bought baking powder.)
Other light bite recipes
Cake Salé Provençal
- 200 g flour self raising
- 100 g butter melted
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 50 g green olives
- 200 g smoked bacon pieces or lardons
- 30 g spring onions
- 50 g sun dried tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme finely chopped
- 45 g Parmesan grated
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/160FAN/Gas4 and grease 3 small loaf tins or 1 500 ml tin.
- Start by frying the lardons or bacon in a pan over a medium heat for about 5 minutes until browned. Tip the lardons onto a chopping board and chop them into smaller pieces.
- Grate the Parmesan, slice the olives into rings and chop the tomatoes into small pieces. Finely slice the spring onions.
- In a large bowl add the flour. Make a well in the centre and add the eggs. Beat together and pour in the melted butter and milk. Mix well.
- Stir in the onions, tomatoes, olives, lardons, cheese and thyme.
- Pour the mixture into the loaf tins and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
- Let them cool in the tins for a few minutes then turn out onto a rack to cool completely before slicing.
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