Gourmet picnics are big news in Cape Town, espsecially in the winelands. Well it makes sense doesn’t it? Most of the wine estates have beautiful grounds, so why not make use of them. While we were in South Africa we enjoyed three picnics. The first at The Roundhouse overlooking the stunning coastline around Camps Bay. The second at Bramon Wine Estate just outside Plettenberg Bay where our table sat amongst the Sauvignon Blanc vines. And the third at Boschendal, one of the oldest traditional Cape Dutch wine estates in Franschhoek, dating back to 1685.
We sat under ancient trees enjoying the view, while our picnic was prepared.
Ordered the wine, one of my favourites: the Boschendal Chardonnay Pinot Noir blend a lovely wine with a slight apricot blush.
They actually offer a Vegetarian Picnic option which is a first. It included a duo of potato salads, quiche, salad, sweet chilli vinaigrette, sundried tomato & spinach wraps, red pepper pate, caramelised onion pate, chocolate & macadamia nut brownies, cheese & biscuits, red onion maramalade and a french stick. We had trouble finishing it all.
Le Pique Nique, as it is called, is very good value, you get a lot of food and can enjoy their fine wines surrounded by Agapanthus, my favourite plants. I am a little obsessed with them actually.
So, inspired by the picnic food idea and eating outside. I came across an Yotam Ottolenghi recipe for a Cauliflower Cake. Ottolenghi is another one of my obsessions, I love his food and find it endlessly inspiring. See this post and this one for proof of his influence over my recipes.
He makes a big round cake in a 24 cm cake tin, I halved the recipe and cooked mine in a loaf tin. I also added some more spices because I can’t help myself. It’s kind of like a quiche without the pastry.
Spiced Cauliflower & Red Onion Savoury Picnic Cake
Makes 1 loaf, vegetarian. Can be doubled to fill a 24 cm cake tin.
Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi Prep time: 20 mins Cooking time 45 mins
- about 400 gr cauliflower broken into medium florets
- 1/2 large red onion, peeled
- 1 or 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp finely chopped rosemary
- 5 medium eggs
- a handful of fresh chopped coriander
- 90g spelt flour (or plain)
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
- 80-100g grated manchego or vegetarian parmesan
- salt and black pepper
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
Heat the oven to 180C. Put the cauliflower florets in a large saucepan, cover with water, add a teaspoon of salt, bring to the boil then lower the heat and and simmer for 10 -15 minutes, until quite soft. Strain, and leave to drain in the colander.
Meanwhile prepare the batter. Cut a few 1/2 cm rings off one end of the onion, set aside to decorate the top of the cake and roughly chop the rest. Heat the oil in a pan and on a medium heat sauté the chopped onion and rosemary for about 6 minutes, until softened and slightly caramelised. Remove from the heat and leave to cool down.
Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into a large bowl, and add the parmesan, one teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper.
Add the eggs and coriander to the cooled onions and whisk. Then add the egg mix to the flour mix and whisk to eliminate lumps. Add the cauliflower and fold in gently, trying to keep some florets whole.
Use baking paper to line the inside of the loaf tin. Brush any visible sides of the tin with oil and dust with flour. Tip in the cauliflower mix, even out the top with a spatula and arrange the onion rings on top. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Bake the cake in the centre of the oven for 40-45 minutes (for both sizes of cake), until golden brown and set. Serve warm or at room temperature.
The reason I called this a picnic cake is because it is equally good served warm with a lemon & olive oil dressed cucumber salad with fresh mint as a light evening meal or served room temperature the next day as part of a picnic lunch, wherever you happen to be, office, lawn or beach. Just cut yourself a slice and relax.
A very nice glass of wine always helps too….
For more information about Boschendal Wine Estate visit their website here.