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FRONT BURNER: Savory cake will delight tomato lovers

by Kelly Brant | June 27, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.
Savory Tomato Pound Cake

Helen Rosner is a culinary genius.

The "roving food correspondent" for The New Yorker created this recipe, which is, by far, my favorite use of tomatoes this summer.

The cake combines salted ripe tomatoes, parmesan cheese, olive oil and black pepper for a savory take on pound cake.

The headline of Rosner's story about the cake in The New Yorker was 'The Savory Tomato Pound Cake You Never Knew You Needed' and it immediately got my attention.

Tomatoes are one of, if not, my all-time favorite food. Note I said food, not fruit.

Tomatoes are up there with cheese, coffee and chocolate. Maybe I could live without them, but I wouldn't want to.

But back to the cake.

I've had sweet tomato cakes, like the one in last week's Idea Alley using green tomatoes, and the Coca-Cola-style cake using tomato juice as its secret ingredient, and I've had tomato cornbread cobber (oh my goodness!), but nothing like Rosner's cake.

I followed Rosner's recipe almost to a T -- I strayed by using salted butter and a smaller pan lined with parchment paper -- and the results were divine.

The texture was tender and delicate, just like a good pound cake. And the flavor! Pleasantly salty and rich with parmesan and studded with bits of juicy, but not too juicy, tomato enhanced with plenty of black pepper and fruity olive oil. I was tempted to eat the whole thing myself; instead I shared with my co-workers, who may or may not be as enamored with it as I am.

If I were to make any additional changes, they would be to add a touch of garlic and maybe a little basil.

Savory Tomato Pound Cake

1 pound fresh ripe tomatoes (I used grape tomatoes, but any kind will work)

2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided use

7 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing pan, softened

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more if flouring pan

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for sprinkling

3 1/2 ounces finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (use the best quality you can afford here, but don't use parmesan in the green shaker can)

1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing

4 eggs

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9- or 10-inch springform pan or regular cake pan. (I lined the bottom of my pan with parchment paper and buttered the sides, but skipped flouring.)

If using large- or medium-sized tomatoes, remove the cores, then slice the tomatoes in half through their equators. Squeeze or scoop out the seeds, then coarsely chop the flesh. If using small cherry or grape tomatoes, halve or quarter them, and squeeze out the seeds by pinching and rolling them between your thumb and fingers. (I saved the seeds and juice for making vinaigrette because that's how much I love tomatoes, but I understand if you want to toss them.)

Place the seeded tomatoes in a colander set over a bowl. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the salt and gently toss to coat. Set aside to drain while you prepare the batter, giving them a shake every so often.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, the remaining teaspoon of salt, the baking powder and black pepper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, parmesan and olive oil on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. (I imagine you could prepare this using a regular hand mixer, but the beating time will be longer.) Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat on medium speed until smooth. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture and continue mixing until just combined. The batter should be airy and light with a mousselike texture.

Spoon about half the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle half of the drained tomatoes over the batter. Spoon the remaining batter over the tomatoes, spreading it evenly with a rubber spatula. Top with the remaining tomatoes, lightly pressing them down into the batter. Brush the exposed tomatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with a few grinds of black pepper.

Bake until golden brown and a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let the cake cool for 20 minutes before removing from the pan. Then cool completely.

Serve at room temperature. Store any uneaten cake at room temperature, in an airtight container or tightly wrapped in plastic wrap.

Recipe adapted from The New Yorker. See arkansasonline.com/627cake

Food on 06/27/2018

Print Headline: Savory cake will delight tomato lovers

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