French Fridays with Dorie
Parisians must do a lot of sitting around drinking wine and nibbling on savory cheese breads as I’ve been crossing paths with several recipes lately and all them talk about sipping wine with them. Back in December while sifting through my my new amour’s things when he wasn’t paying attention, I discovered a recipe for a savory loaf — he referred to as a ‘cake’. He positioned it as a great a ppetizer “to go with pre dinner drinks or a glass of Calvados.” I am rarely sipping on a glass of Calvados but, eh, if David likes it then that is good enough for me! I rushed right out and bought a bottle — just in case he should ever come for a visit. I was quite anxious to try this one out since the lemon/fennel seed combination really peaked my interest.
No sooner did I actually make this stuff than the Dorista Grand Poobahs announced our first March assignment would be Dorie’s Chive and Cheese Bread. My cup runeth over with Calvados and cheesey bread. Essentially, this is another one of Dorie’s non-recipe recipes highlighting a dish that can really take just about anything you dish out at it. This of course makes it perfect as all you really need for this type of quick bread is 1 tablespoon of baking powder and some salt. (And eggs, and flour…you get the idea.) After that just about anything you have taking up space in the fridge can be baked into a loaf to go with your Calvados.
So…guess who forgot the baking powder on his first go at this recipe? Uh huh. I caught my mistake after 10 minutes and briefly entertained the idea of writing about Dorie’s Cheesy Chive biscuits but I changed my mind since I had plenty of cheese and chives on hand and could start another round. The subsequent loaf turned out beautifully.
If this were a contest I would have to give it to the Apricot Almond Lemon Loaf Cake thingie. Its much finer texture and sublime depth of flavors mixed perfectly with the nutty Gruyeres. This quick bread is something special in a way that the obvious pairing of chives and cheese could not be. And before you jump all over me I’m not dishing Dorie here –both quite good and when you have two similar things within days of each other its impossible not to draw comparisons.
Lets just say that the next time I make Dorie’s version, my Bonne Idea will be to omit the chives and walnuts and in their place I’ll add lemon zest, almonds, fennel seeds and dried apricots.
Just sayin’. Since it is my new secret crush’s recipe I will make again and again so I will post it here. Dorie’s recipe is, as usual, in her book. You can email me if you want it but I think you really want this one instead… Just sayin’.
Savory Quick Breads
This is what you will need:
- 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 rounded teaspoon sea salt
- 1 rounded teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 6 large eggs, at room temperature
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
- 7 ounces dried apricots, coarsely chopped
- 6 ounces Gruyère. Emmental cheese works great too, grated (2 cups)
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
- grated zest of one lemon
- 1/3 cup almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
This is how you make it:
- Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Butter a loaf pan generously. David suggests lining it with parchment paper and buttering the paper but I found this unnecessary with my heavy duty loaf pan.
- Sift together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, and salt into a small bowl. Mix in the black pepper. (I added a couple shakes of cayenne too.)
- Whisk the eggs by hand in a large bowl until frothy and then stir in the dry ingredients being careful not to overmix. Mix in the melted butter well and then fold in the apricots, cheese, fennel seeds, lemon zest, and finally, the almonds. Obviously you can go crazy on your add-ins here but I found this combination to be sublime.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the bread rest for five minutes and then remove it from the pan and set on a cooling rack to cool. Cut into slices and serve with Calvados.