Vegetarian Cake Provençal With Kinako

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Throughout Provence, especially in the colder months, you often encounter stalls at the markets selling golden loaves of goodness called Cake Provençal. They look just like pound cakes or what we might call in the U.S. ‘quickbreads’, but they are made with savory ingredients. They usually contain cheese, olives, sautéed vegetables, ham, sausage, herbs and so on. They are great at dinnertime,for picnics and of course (since it’s on this site) for not-Japanese bento lunches. Here are some that were on sale at a market in Nyons (in the Drôme Provençal) last December.

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They are made exactly like sweet cakes, but this being the land of olive oil they use that instead of butter. My version here is a bit light on the olive oil (some cakes that I’ve tried are almost dripping with oil). I’ve added a very non-Provencal ingredient, kinako (toasted soy bean flour), to add nuttiness as well as protein. You could use chickpea flour instead of the kinako. A piece or two, or three or four, of this cake makes a great vegetarian bento, on its own or with a salad or raw vegetables packed along. You can also make very interesting sandwiches with it. (Try Boursin cream cheese with watercress.)

I made mine in a square baking or brownie pan instead of the traditional loaf pan, since I like to cut it into little squares, but you could make it in a loaf pan too. It freezes very well, which makes it a great ‘freezer stash’ item.

Recipe: Vegetarian Cake Provençal with Kinako

Makes 8 inch / approx. 20 cm square cake (you could make it in a slightly large square cake pan too, or in a loaf pan). Cut into 12 squares, each square is about 100 calories each.

The vegetable mix:

  • 2 large sweet bell peppers
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • about 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. Herbes de Provence mix (you can substitute Italian herb mix or similar)
  • Salt and pepper

The batter:

  • 160g / 5.6 oz (about 1 cup plus 3 Tbs.) all purpose flour
  • 60g / 2.1 oz (about 1/2 cup) kinako or chickpea flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 whole large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk or regular milk with a little vinegar added
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil

Other:

  • 70g / 2.5 oz (about 3/4 cups cubed) low fat goat cheese or feta cheese
  • 4 sundried tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbs. pistou or pesto from a jar

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C / 355°F. Line a square baking or brownie pan with parchment paper, and grease the paper with olive oil lightly.

Chop up the vegetables into rough dice. Sauté them in a pan with the 2 Tbs. olive oil until limp. Add a little salt and pepper, and the herbs. Set aside to cool.

Sift the flour, kinako or chickpea flour, salt and baking powder together. Beat the eggs, buttermilk and olive oil together. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture in batches, beating until it forms a fairly smooth batter.

Add the sautéed vegetables, cheese, and sundried tomatoes to the batter and mix. Swirl in the pesto.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

This will keep in the refrigerator for a few days, well wrapped. It will keep in the freezer for about a month; I wrap the individual pieces separately, so I can take out as many as I want at a time.

Variations

You can add all kinds of sautéed vegetables, cubed ham, bacon, other kinds of cheese, olives, and so on to this. You could leave out the cheese to make it lighter, add chopped nuts or seeds, and so on.

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6 comments

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Re: Vegetarian Cake Provençal With Kinako

Thanks for the unique recipe! If I'm lucky I'll get a chance to try it before the month (Feb) is through.

Re: Vegetarian Cake Provençal With Kinako

Maki thanks for this beautiful recipe. I made it today for tomorrow's bentos. I used red and yellow peppers and sweet onions. It looks great and is truly really delicious. I hadn't ever heard of cake provencal before.

Re: Vegetarian Cake Provençal With Kinako

Wow this was fantastic! I made it yesterday for lunches this week (and some into the freezer for later in the month). It smelled fantastic while cooking, but I resisted the urge. I just had some for lunch and I wish I'd brought another piece!

Thanks for the recipe!

Re: Vegetarian Cake Provençal With Kinako

Wow! I made this tonight and it was fabulous! Yummm!

Re: Vegetarian Cake Provençal With Kinako

Wow,this looks delicious!:3 I'll be moving to Provence this summer,it rather suprised me to see something from there on my favorite website.Thanks for posting,Maki!

Re: Vegetarian Cake Provençal With Kinako

I wondered what to do with some kinako I had and found this. Easy, delicious and a hit with my little girl too.

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