Cake Salé (French Savory Cake)

published May 27, 2023
Cake Salé Recipe

Hailing from the Provence region of France, cake salé is savory quick bread popularly enjoyed as an aperitif or appetizer.

Serves8 to 10

Makes1 loaf

Prep30 minutes

Cook1 hour to 1 hour 5 minutes

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5 slices of cake salé on a plate
Credit: Stephanie Loo

When it comes to quick breads, the sky’s the limit on the different mix-ins one can fold into the sugar-kissed batter, from cranberries to lemons and poppyseeds. But, cake salé, or French savory cake, is truly in a league of its own. Although it’s technically a type of quick bread, cake salé is composed of an unsweetened cake batter that’s strewn with bits of meat, salty cheese, and a mix of different vegetables. It’s an exceedingly easy, and equally impressive, baking project to work into your rotation. 

The cherry on top (although in this case, I suppose, it’s more like an olive) is how easy it is to whip up. You make a one-bowl cake batter, dollop the mixture into a loaf pan, smooth the top, and bake. It will serve you well as a party appetizer or as last-minute brunch centerpiece, where it will be reduced to crumbs in minutes. But, best of all, you can keep a loaf on your kitchen counter and shave off slices to nibble on throughout the day. 

What Is Cake Salé?

A direct translation for savory cake, this rustic, unsweetened quick bread hails from the Provence region of France and is typically enjoyed as a handheld aperitif or appetizer before a French dinner. Its texture falls somewhere between a craggy scone and an airy piece of focaccia, and the savory edge of the cake is only accentuated by the seasonings and add-ins throughout. 

Credit: Stephanie Loo

Other Cake Salé Mix-in Possibilities 

Much like its sweet cake cousin, cake salé can serve as the stage for a cast of ingredients. The most common combination features bacon, olives, and Gruyère cheese, as this recipe calls for, but the beauty of the cake is that all of the ingredients can be substituted for another similar ingredient. 

Here’s a list of possible options.

  • Meat: diced ham, prosciutto
  • Cheese: Gruyère, Parmesan 
  • Vegetables: roasted red peppers, peppadew peppers, broccoli florets 
  • Alliums and herbs: onions, chives

Does Cake Salé Freeze Well?

After you bake off a loaf, cake salé freezes exceptionally well. If I know I want to freeze it, I will cut the cake into slices, wrap them in aluminum foil, and take out only the slices I want at any given time. To thaw, simply let a slice come to room temperature or reheat it in the toaster oven.

Cake Salé Recipe

Hailing from the Provence region of France, cake salé is savory quick bread popularly enjoyed as an aperitif or appetizer.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 1 hour to 1 hour 5 minutes

Makes 1 loaf

Serves 8 to 10

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray

  • 3/4 cup

    pitted green olives

  • 1

    small shallot

  • 4 ounces

    sharp cheddar cheese (about 1 cup store-bought shredded)

  • 2 slices

    thick-cut bacon

  • 1 1/2 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons

    baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 3

    large eggs

  • 1/2 cup

    whole milk

  • 1/4 cup

    extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF. Coat an 8x4-inch (for a taller cake) or 9x5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

  2. Meanwhile, prepare the following, adding each to the same medium bowl as you complete it: Halve 3/4 cup pitted green olives. Thinly slice 1 small shallot (about 1/4 cup). Grate 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese on the large holes of a box grater (about 1 cup), or measure out 1 cup store-bought shredded.

  3. Dice 2 slices thick-cut bacon. Place in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisped and browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer a paper towel-lined plate to drain, then add the bowl with olive mixture.

  4. Place 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Place the following into the well: 3 large eggs, 1/2 cup whole milk, and 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Mix with a flexible spatula until just combined, it will have some lumps.

  5. Add the olive mixture and fold together with the spatula until just combined; do not overmix. Transfer the batter into the loaf pan and smooth the top.

  6. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 55 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then flip the bread out onto a wire rack and let cool completely before slicing, about 1 hour.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. The cake can also be sliced, wrapped tightly in aluminum foil, and frozen for up to 3 months. To thaw, place the bread onto a wire rack and let thaw at room temperature.