Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for fuss-free savoury bakes (2024)

Baking and pastry are generally associated with discipline, patience, precision and a strict adherence to basic science.

That is certainly true of some aspects of baking (I’d definitely stick to the instructions for a good Victoria sponge, say), but there are some savoury bakes that, for me, are all about playing around and not being terribly zealous about what goes in and when.

So here, for all you free spirits (and baking phobes) out there, is a cornbread, a pie and a flan that showcase three ways of baking without an especially intricate process, or even strict rules.

Honey and yoghurt cornbread (pictured above)

I’ve always kept my cornbread more on the savoury side, with such additions as feta and chilli. This more classic take echoes the natural sweetness of corn in the best possible way, in a sweet/salty combination that’s ideal for breakfast or brunch. Avocado, in any shape or form, will work well alongside.

Prep 5 min
Cook 50 min
Cool 45 min
Serves 8-10

210g unsalted butter, cut in half
210g quick-cook polenta
210g plain flour
1¾ tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
⅓ tsp bicarbonate of soda
450g fresh corn kernels (from about 3 cobs), or the equivalent in frozen kernels, defrosted
3 tbsp runny honey, plus extra to serve
200g Greek-style yoghurt
80ml whole milk
3 eggs, beaten
20g chives, finely chopped
Black pepper

Heat the oven to 220C (210C fan)/450F/gas 7. Put the butter in a 28cm-diameter cast-iron saute pan, then put it in the oven for 12-15 minutes, or until melted and browned. Pour all but a tablespoon and a half of the butter into a bowl and set the pan aside.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the polenta, flour, salt, baking powder and bicarb.

Put the corn in a food processor and pulse a few times, until roughly chopped, then tip into a large bowl and add the honey, yoghurt, milk, eggs, chives and a generous amount of pepper, whisking to combine.

Tip the corn mixture and the bowl of browned butter into the dry ingredients, and stir through until just combined but not overmixed.

Transfer the mixture to the buttered cast-iron pan you used earlier, smoothing out the top with the back of a spoon, and bake for 25 minutes, or until the bread is golden and brown around the edges, and a skewer comes out clean from the centre. Leave to cool in the pan for at least 45 minutes before serving, with more honey drizzled on top, if you like.

Poha and coconut flan

Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for fuss-free savoury bakes (1)

Poha (or powa) is cooked, flattened and dried rice. You can find it in most Asian grocery stores, and make sure you get the thick flakes, not the thin ones, because they’re more likely to hold their shape.

Poha is widely used in Indian cookery and is typically served at breakfast. Here, I’ve taken the traditional base and turned it into a savoury flan that would work as a breakfast or light lunch with some smashed avocado or yoghurt alongside.

Prep 40 min
Cook 1 hr
Serves 4

150g thick poha (Indian rice flakes)
90ml olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
3cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1½ red chillies, 1 deseeded and finely chopped, the rest thinly sliced, seeds and all
1½ tsp black mustard seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds, roughly crushed in a mortar
¾ tsp ground turmeric
2 stems curry leaves (ie, about 25 leaves)
1 large (250g) potato, boiled, then peeled and cut into 1½cm cubes
Salt and black pepper
1 lime – zest finely grated, to get 1 tsp, and juiced, to get 1 tbsp
4 tbsp coriander leaves, roughly chopped
3 large eggs
300g 70%-fat coconut milk
25g fresh coconut, finely grated
25g salted and roasted peanuts, roughly chopped

Put the poha in a bowl, cover with plenty of cold water and soak for three minutes. Drain and set aside.

Put four tablespoons of oil in a large, ovenproof saute pan for which you have a lid, and put it on a medium-high heat. Once hot, fry the onion, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until softened and browned. Add the garlic, ginger, chopped chilli, spices and curry leaves, and cook for two minutes more, stirring often, until fragrant.

Add the cooked potato, a teaspoon of salt, plenty of pepper and two tablespoons of water, and cook for two minutes, stirring regularly. Turn down the heat to medium-low, then add the poha and stir to combine. Cover and leave to steam, undisturbed, for three minutes, until the poha is cooked through. Stir through the lime juice and two-thirds of the coriander, then tip out into a bowl and leave to cool slightly for about 15 minutes.

Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. Whisk together the eggs, coconut milk and half a teaspoon of salt, then stir them into the cooled poha mixture.

Wipe out the saute pan, add a tablespoon and a half of oil and swirl the pan around to coat its base and sides. Add the poha mixture, spreading it out to distribute it evenly, then bake for 15 minutes, or until just set. Remove and leave to cool slightly – about 10 minutes.

While the poha is cooling, make the topping. In a small bowl, mix the fresh coconut, peanuts, sliced red chilli, remaining coriander and lime zest. To serve, top the poha flan with the coconut mixture, then drizzle over the remaining teaspoon and a half of oil and serve directly from the pan.

Swiss chard and ricotta pie

Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for fuss-free savoury bakes (2)

Apart from the ricotta, this simple pie also has dolcelatte (which is mild enough not to offend even if you’re not the biggest blue cheese fan) and parmesan in the filling, which make it rich and complex enough to serve at the centre of a light supper with a simple lettuce salad by way of accompaniment.

Prep 20 min
Cook 1 hr 25 min
Serves 4

25g unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
500g swiss chard, stems and leaves separated, stems cut into 1cm slices, leaves shredded
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
Salt and black pepper
1 egg, beaten, plus 1 egg yolk
50g parmesan, finely grated
150g dolcelatte, roughly crumbled
4 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
1 rectangular 34cm x 24cm sheet puff pastry
100g ricotta
2 tsp nigella seeds

Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. Put the butter and oil in a large saute pan on a medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onion and fry, stirring occasionally, until softened and well browned – about 10 minutes.

Add the chard stems, cook for four minutes more, or until softened, then stir in the chard leaves, garlic, three quarters of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, and cook for a further four minutes, until the leaves have wilted and released some of their liquid.

Turn off the heat, leave to cool for 20 minutes, then stir in the whole egg, parmesan, dolcelatte and spring onions.

Line the base and sides of a 32cm x 22cm rectangular baking tin with a sheet of greaseproof paper. Drape the puff pastry on top, making sure it covers the bottom of the tin and extends about 2½cm up the sides (trim the edges, if need be), then gently push the pastry down to fit the tin. Top with the chard mixture, spreading it evenly to cover the base, then dot randomly with tablespoonfuls of ricotta.

Fold over the edges of the pastry, so you have an outer rim about 2½-3cm thick, and press the corners together to seal. Brush the rim with the beaten egg yolk, then sprinkle the nigella seeds on top. Bake for 40 minutes, or until golden and the pastry is cooked through, then leave to cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for fuss-free savoury bakes (2024)
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