In recent months, cauliflower has been a front-and-center sale item here (“here” being Los Angeles suburbia). Purple, orange and white varieties – all of them – spread out at my grocery store ready for the picking and poking, reminding me that I don’t make nearly enough recipes with this smart looking vegetable.
I kind of give it the cold shoulder when it comes to new recipes, exclusively using the white variety for cauliflower mash or as a steamed side.
Limited, to say the least.
So, in my quest to expand my use of ingredients this year – not just for its’ practical behind-the-scenes purposes (have you seen all the Pinterest pins on how cauliflower is a sub for everything? so many to choose from!). Ottolenghi’s cauliflower cake recipe from his Plenty More Cookbook is as versatile (another breakfast/brunch option!) as it is strikingly beautiful making it an easy choice.
Dear cauliflower cake, where have you been all my life? I heart you.
Light and silky yet hearty at the same time, if that makes any sense, despite its’ dense appearance. The hint of sesame seeds adds textural interest and aromatics to the crispy edge while the purple orbit-y looking onion rings on top (love that touch) lose its’ sharp bite while baking, becoming sweet and mellow as can be. No need to worry about “onion breath”, if you do happen to choose this as a date-night meal, none given. The herbs, especially the basil, adds depth of flavor to the cake and I couldn’t imagine this without ‘em.
On another note: don’t mind all the eggs in the recipe, it serves 6-8 and really adds that creamy richness. The white rice flour, along with the starches, help bind the eggs without it being too eggy, like say, a frittata or quiche – so please, don’t skimp. Pure Ottolenghi genius if you ask me.
Oh, and one more thing I should tell you, his recipe calls for cheese. Add in about 1/2 cup of your favorite non-dairy cheese (grated), if you like or real cheese, if tolerant. I didn’t have any on hand the first time around and we all thought it was superb. The second time around I added Daiya mozzarella shreds, but found it didn’t really contribute anything to the recipe so I do without.
I served it for dinner with our favorite focaccia bread and a chickpea cucumber mint salad with a lemon vinaigrette. Or as Ottolenghi suggests: “Serve this cake as a light supper alongside a makeshift salad of sliced cucumber, dill, mint, a little sugar, cider vinegar, and canola oil. Wrapped well, this cake will taste even better the next day.”
- 1 medium cauliflower, outer leaves and stems removed, broken in florets (4-5 cups)
- 1 medium red onion
- 5 tablespoons olive oil (not extra virgin)
- 2 small sprigs
rosemary,stems removed and chopped fine (about 1½ teaspoons)
- 7 whole eggs
- 1 large handful
- 1 cup (7⅛ oz/202 g) organic white rice flour
- ½ cup (2.5 oz/76 g) tapioca starch
- ½ cup (3⅝ oz/102 g) potato starch
- 1½ teaspoon aluminum free baking powder
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1½ teaspoons crushed black pepper
- cooking spray or coconut oil for greasing the pan
- You will need a 9½ inch springform pan and a rimmed baking sheet pan.
- Preheat on CONVECTION oven heat to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) with a rack placed in the middle of the oven.
- Steam cauliflower for 10-15 minutes, until very soft. Transfer steamed cauliflower on a clean dishtowel or paper towels to pat dry as best as you can. Set aside.
- Cut 3 round slices off one end of the red onion, each about ¼ inch thick, and separate circles. Set aside. Coarsely chop the remaining onion. Heat a skillet on medium heat, add olive oil, chopped
onionand rosemary. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally,until onions are soft. Remove from heat to cool. Meanwhile, whisk the three flours and baking powder to combine well.
- Transfer the cooled onions to a large bowl, add the eggs and basil and whisk well with a fork. Then add flour blend, kosher salt, and black pepper. Lightly whisk again just to combine before adding the cauliflower. Stir in the cauliflower carefully, to try not to break the florets.
- Line the round springform pan with a 12-inch sheet of parchment paper (push into the pan with the pointed ends sticking out) and generously grease with spray or oil. Sprinkle sesame seeds on sides and bottom of the lined parchment spring form pan, seeds should stick to the paper. Pour the cauliflower mixture into the lined springform pan, spreading it evenly (will fill to about 1-inch below the rim), then arrange reserved onion slices on top. Place the prepared cauliflower cake on the rimmed baking sheet then bake on the center rack of the oven for 45 minutes (oven should be set on convection, if not, it may need 5-8 more minutes), until golden brown. A toothpick should come out clean. Let it cool 20-30 minutes in the spring form pan before releasing the outer part of the pan. Once cooled, lift off the outer part and gently release the parchment paper from the cake. Then gently lift the cake off the paper and onto a serving platter or leave as-is, right on the parchment paper, and serve. Best served warm, not hot, or at room temperature.
- Can be frozen for up to one month, once cooled, and stored in a freezer safe container. Thaw in refrigerator overnight then reheat in a preheat 300 degrees F oven for 40 minutes.
- Side note on stocking up on produce: Fresh cauliflower is actually quite easy to freeze, simply break apart into smaller florets and set it on a wax sheet lined (to prevent any sticking) baking sheet or any freezable flat surface and freeze overnight then transfer to a freezer-safe container or zip lock bag.
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