The kick-off to patio season has to be celebrated with a great appetizer, right? Which is why today’s recipe is perfectly suited. This Ham, Olive and Cheese Bread is very popular in France, and a French aperitif favorite.
Known in French as a “cake salé” (savory cake), you’ll often find this type of rustic bread/loaf served at friendly get-togethers or for pre-meal snacks and drinks in France. They come in all variations and are traditionally cut in thin slices or cubes for guests to pick at, while mingling before dinner.
This one is probably the most popular of all. It is made just a like a cake (flour, eggs, minus the sugar) and with ham, cheese and olives – most ingredients you probably already have in your pantry and fridge. It is quick and simple to make, and I have no hesitation in saying it is a total crowd-pleaser.
It is is halfway between a bread and a savory cake, which I think is just perfect: it is salty and flavorful, but not too rich nor moist. It has a tender crumb that’s both cheesy and eggy, spruced up with dried herbs and nestled with salty ham cubes and briny olives.
For serving, cut it in slices or cubes, and place on a serving tray with skewers and napkins. Because it is sturdy and keeps well, it also great for picnics or lunches on-the-go, to accompany a salad.
- For the ham, choose an “original” or “traditional black forest” ham (not flavoured; ie. brown sugar or honey maple). Cut it in small cubes, and make sure you remove the skin (the skin doesn’t bake well in this cake, and ends up being very rubbery).
- For the cheese, Gruyère or Emmental are best; but you can also opt for other hard grated cheese such as cheddar, smoked cheddar, parmesan or provolone.
- If you aren’t a fan of olives, you can substitute them with the same amount of sundried tomatoes (drained, chopped).
1 1/4 cup (155g) flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
½ tsp Herbs de Provence (or dried thyme, dried rosemary, dried savory)
3 large eggs
¼ cup (60ml) milk (2% or whole)
2 tbsp (30g) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup (100g) grated cheese (ie. Emmental or Gruyere)
100g Olives, pitted (black, green or a mix)
70g Ham, diced and skin removed
Pre-heat your oven to 350F (180C) with a rack in the middle. Butter and flour a loaf pan (8x4-inches) very well.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, black pepper and herbs de provence. Add the eggs and mix, using a wooden spoon or spatula.
Mix in the milk and the EVOO. Fold in the grated cheese, followed by the olives and ham cubes.
Transfer the batter into the prepared loaf pan. The batter is quite thick, so use a spatula to smooth out the top.
Bake for 45 minutes, until the top is golden and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Transfer to a cooling rack and wait 15 minutes before removing the loaf from the pan.
Enjoy warm or at room temperature.
If you try this Ham Cheese and Olive Bread recipe let me know! Leave a comment or share a photo using #pardonyourfrench on Instagram. Bon Appétit!