PESTO CAKE WITH SLOW-ROASTED TOMATOES
Olive oil cakes seem to be all the rage and this one goes the extra step with a ribbon of basil pesto running throughout. A topping of slowroasted colourful tomatoes, along with their cooking oil, makes this extra flavourful and picture-perfect. You will have a bit of pesto left over, so use some on the top of the cake when serving, or save it for your next pasta dish. In my books, you can never have too much pesto!
4 cups (1 L) red and yellow grape or cherry tomatoes
½ cup (125 mL) olive oil
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
6 sprigs thyme
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 cups (500 mL) packed basil leaves 1 clove garlic
¼ tsp (1 mL) salt
2 tbsp (30 mL) pine nuts
¼ cup (60 mL) olive oil
¼ cup (60 mL) grated Parmesan cheese
1½ cups (375 mL) all-purpose flour 1½ tsp (7 mL) baking powder
¼ tsp (1 mL) salt
Pinch of ground pepper
3 eggs, room temperature
½ cup (125 mL) extra virgin olive oil ½ cup (125 mL) milk, room temperature 3 tbsp (45 mL) pine nuts, lightly toasted Coarse or kosher salt for sprinkling
Fresh basil leaves for garnish
1 For the tomatoes, preheat the oven to 250°F (120°C). Combine all of the ingredients in a 9 x 13-inch (23 x 33-cm), or equivalent size, shallow baking dish. Bake for 2 to 2½ hours until the tomatoes are soft, slightly wrinkled, but not falling apart. Reserve at room temperature if using the same day. Otherwise, refrigerate the whole mixture, and bring to room temperature before serving.
2 For the pesto, place the basil leaves, garlic, salt, pine nuts and olive oil in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the grated Parmesan cheese and process to combine. Set aside.
3 For the cake, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line the bottom of a round 8-inch (20-cm) cake pan with parchment paper.
4 In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs on high speed for 3 to 4 minutes until very light in colour and tripled in volume. On medium speed, drizzle in the olive oil followed by the milk. On low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
5 Spread half the batter in the pan. Spoon 6 tbsp (90 mL) of the pesto around the batter and spread to within an inch of the edge of the pan. Top with the remaining batter, spreading it carefully to the edge of the pan. Scatter the pine nuts overtop, gently pressing them into the batter, and sprinkle with a pinch of coarse or kosher salt.
6 Bake until the cake has risen and just begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack.
7 Remove the cake from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature, topping each portion with the slow-roasted tomatoes, including some of the cooking oil. Add a small spoonful of pesto, if desired, and a basil leaf. The cake is best the day it is baked but can be wrapped and stored at room temperature overnight. Wrap in foil and re-warm in a 350°F (180°C) oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
Serves 8 to 10