The first time that I ate cake aux courgettes was during a picnic in France. It was 2009, and I was studying abroad in Angers, pronounced Ahn-jhay, a city in the beautiful Loire River Valley. Famed for its collection of ornate chateaux from the 17th and 18th centuries, Angers is most known for its medieval castle, Chateau d’Angers, which holds the Apocalypse Tapestry. Commissioned in the 14th century, it’s one of the oldest surviving sets of French tapestries.
After four months of living, studying and exploring in Angers, my semester abroad was coming to an end. I decided to close out my experience with a week long tour in southwestern France. Led by a French professor from the Université Catholique de l’Ouest, our small troupe boarded a large van, and traveled from city to city, including St.Jean de Luz, Biarritz, and Bordeaux. During one long day of driving, we stopped at a park to stretch our legs and eat lunch, which we had packed the day before. The only food I distinctly remember from that picnic is the cake aux courgettes, a savory zucchini loaf filled with fresh herbs and goat cheese. At the time, it was baffling to eat a savory loaf that was being called “cake.” The loaf was scrumptiously satisfying, but quite different from the brown sugar and cinnamon laden zucchini bread I was used to eating in the States.
Cake aux courgettes falls under a category of baked goods known as cake salé, which means salted cake, or savory cake. Using the recipe below as a guide, you can quite easily alter the ingredients to make this recipe your own, suiting your personal tastes. Replace the feta with goat cheese, or cheddar, or bleu, or any other cheese that makes your mouth water. Replace basil with your favorite herb. Add more or less zucchini. Add ham, bacon, turkey, olives, sun dried tomatoes, or anything else that will make you tastebuds sing for joy. Bon appétit!
Cake aux Courgettes - Savory Zucchini Loaf
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 2 cups zucchini shredded
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup olive oil
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 2 tsp parsley
- 3/4 cup crumbled feta
- 1/2 cup gruyère sprinkling
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and lightly flour a loaf pan.
Grate the zucchini. Using a strainer, squeeze excess moisture from the zucchini. Overly wet zucchini may weigh down the loaves.
Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, black pepper, and herbs in a large bowl.
Crack the eggs in a medium bowl and whisk for about 2 minutes, until they’re light and fluffy. Whisk in the milk and olive oil.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently mix until the dough comes together. Don't over mix or the dough will be tough. Add the feta cheese, basil (or other herbs), and zucchini.
Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown. Let the loaf sit for about 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack. Slice and serve. For storing, the loaf will keep best in the fridge.