Cauliflower Cake

Adapted from Ottelingie’s Plenty More

We went to friends for a dinner party – back in the day of dinner parties! And super confidently they served this cake with a green salad and wine. It felt like the perfect dinner, no embellishments, just one perfect dish, good friends, and lots of laughter.

I think that one of the reasons Ottelingies’ food and cooking is so admired and mimicked is because of his attention to detail. And it’s the detail of this cauliflower cake that makes it stand out, where, in Israel, this kind of combination may be called a pashtida, Ottelingie’s details elevate it from homey pashtida to noteworthy cake.

  • 1 small (approximately 450g) cauliflower, outer leaves removed, broken into small florets
  • 1 medium red onion, peeled
  • 75ml (5 tablespoons) olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary (½ teaspoon dried)
  • 7 eggs
  • 125g (1cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 150g (1 ½ cups) coarsely grated mature cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Melted unsalted butter, for brushing
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
  • ½ tablespoon nigella seeds
  1. Heat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF).
  2. Place the cauliflower florets in a saucepan and add 1 teaspoon salt. Cover with water and simmer for 15 minutes, until the florets are quite soft. They should break when pressed with a spoon. Drain and set aside in a colander to dry.
  3. Cut 2-3 round slices, each just under a cm think about ¼ inch, off one end of the onion and set aside.
  4. Coarsely chop the rest of the onion and place in a small pan with the oil and rosemary. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring from time to time, until soft. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  5. Transfer the onion to a large bowl, add the eggs and whisk well, and then add the flour, baking powder, turmeric, cheese, season with salt, and plenty of pepper. Whisk until smooth before adding the cauliflower and stirring gently, trying not to break up the florets.
  6. Line the base and sides of a 22-24cm (9-10 inch) springform cake tin with parchment paper. Brush the sides with melted butter, then mix together the sesame and nigella seeds and toss them around the inside of the pan so that they stick to the sides.
  7. Pour the cauliflower mixture into the pan, spreading it evenly, and arrange the reserved onion rings on top.
  8. Place in the center of the oven and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown and set; a knife inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean. Remove from the oven and leave for at least 20 minutes before serving. Can be served warm or at room temperature.