Non-sweet birthday treat?
March 29, 2011 12:30 AM   Subscribe

I want to make a cake for a friend's birthday; but this friend doesn't like sweets. What's a good alternative?

I love baking, especially cupcakes and cakes for birthdays. I don't have a huge sweet tooth myself, preferring things like an earl grey cupcake to something like chocolate. Still, I enjoy baked goods on occasion.

A friend has a birthday in the next month and I'd like to make a treat to share, but last time I made cookies he declined any, saying that he didn't like sweets at all. He finally ate a cookie because I made a (joking) scene about being offended, but I'd rather have whatever I make be enjoyable by itself rather than out of guilt.

Things that are possibly relavant:
He's a bartender, and a little bit snobby about things involving alcohol
anything french is a plus
something sharable is good
I'm a competent-to-good cook, but not gourmet
his favorite cocktail is a bijou

Thanks y'all!
posted by girlalex to Food & Drink (28 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Why not make him a mini version of a cheese wedding cake, i.e. a tiered cake? British examples, but do-able in the US, too, and with French cheese - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
posted by MuffinMan at 12:43 AM on March 29, 2011

Best answer: I searched for "savoury cake" and "savory cake" (spelling variants brought up different results) on Tastespotting and came up with two possibilities for you: potato, courgette, and feta cakes with mint and French savory cake with smoked salmon.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:50 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

You could make a meat cake .
posted by emilyw at 12:57 AM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

When my husband was little, he used to have a "Pizza Cake" for his birthday every year (with candles and everything) because he didn't like sweet things...

It's share-able, and fun to make with different slices having different toppings, and can be as gourmet as you please...

Mark Bittman has a fantastic and easy pizza dough recipe (you can make it part wheat/part white flour). The secret to good pizza crust is a really hot oven (500 degrees or more)

Our favorite toppings are:
-loads of garlic, olive oil, fresh tomato slices, chopped spinach, and mozzarella cheese.
-Mediterranea pizza: same as above, plus chopped olives, artichokes, feta cheese
-Mexican pizza: refried beans, salsa, and cheddar cheese and hot peppers
posted by franc.o.bolos at 1:22 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Corn bread with a candle in it.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:40 AM on March 29, 2011

Meat pie, quiche, spanakopita?
posted by leigh1 at 3:41 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Vol-au-vents / canapes?
posted by leigh1 at 3:47 AM on March 29, 2011

Meatloaf frosted with mashed potatoes. Camembert in the potatoes to make it fancy, if you must.

Or potato pancakes with sour cream and horseradish. A little grated parsnip is good in the cakes themselves.
posted by apparently at 4:11 AM on March 29, 2011

How about a Shrimp and Grits Pie?
posted by cinemafiend at 4:37 AM on March 29, 2011

In the past I have gotten two large rounds of brie and sandwiched one on top of the other with a fiilling of finely chopped semi-dried tomatoes and herbs. I then tend to decorate the top with flowers and candles.
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 4:57 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Baked Brie in phyllo dough.
posted by artychoke at 5:23 AM on March 29, 2011

Spanakopita and pot pie are the first things that come to mind since they vaguely resemble sweet baked goods, but really almost any casserole could be molded into a suitable form factor. A cassoulet or tian would fit the French request and could support a candle.
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:12 AM on March 29, 2011

Zucchini bread
posted by briank at 6:14 AM on March 29, 2011

Torre di tramezzini (sandwich tower)
posted by leigh1 at 6:19 AM on March 29, 2011

posted by zerbinetta at 6:23 AM on March 29, 2011

I really strongly dislike sweets, but I absolutely love a small slice of plain cheesecake, no chocolate, no sugary berry topping. Maybe this might work for him as well.
posted by citizngkar at 6:30 AM on March 29, 2011

This Chorizo and Pistachio Cake is pretty amazing.
posted by amelioration at 6:36 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Perhaps a brioche would fit the bill? It's French, can be sweet or savory, still resembles a cakelike object, etc.
posted by Vervain at 7:01 AM on March 29, 2011

No baking involved but very tasty: chicken (or tuna) salad "cake".
My mom has made it and it's always a hit! :)

You use sliced bread, crust removed, as the cake part, chicken/tuna salad as the filling, and mayonnaise as the frosting. You can decorate with veggies, like a rose made out of tomato skin, carrot slivers or baby carrots, parsley on the bottom rim, nuts on the sides, etc.

Also, she puts veggies in the chicken salad so it's more colorful: corn, carrots, green onions, etc.

It looks like a white square cake, but it's savory :)
posted by Neekee at 7:28 AM on March 29, 2011

Baked macaroni and cheese with a crumb topping sturdy enough to let you put candles in it.
posted by Mizu at 7:37 AM on March 29, 2011

Best answer: Savory cookies? You still get to bake, he doesn't have to eat sweets. Win - win! I like these Parmesan Thyme Crackers, but there are also other variations, like Bacon Cheddar Cookies.

Or since he likes French things, maybe gougeres (aka French Cheese Puffs)?
posted by geeky at 9:24 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think you should just give up on the idea of a "cake". Make him a nice birthday meal instead.
posted by CathyG at 9:33 AM on March 29, 2011

Best answer: Smitten's recipes tend not to be overly sweet - I was eyeing this Blood Orange Olive Oil cake as it seems to promise savory goodness in cake form.
posted by slmorri at 11:05 AM on March 29, 2011

Mushroom Cake! (Torta de ChampiƱones)

A Colombian recipe that is savory delicious amazing cake. We've made it a half-dozen times so far with a variety of mushrooms and it always comes out great.
posted by wcfields at 12:41 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Speaking of Smitten Kitchen, we made this Cauliflower and Parmesan "cake" (something of a sturdy baked omelet) the other night, and it was delicious. This, or something like this, could be cake-shaped enough to satisfy your cake-making urges, while savory and non-deserty enough for your friend.
posted by JiBB at 3:39 PM on March 29, 2011

Swedish smorgastorta looks like a cake, but is actually a sort of layered sandwich smorgasbord. It would lend itself very well to being a birthday cake stand-in. While it doesn't really require baking skills (unless you choose to make the bread yourself), you can go wild with the decoration, and make something that looks fantastic. You could theme the sandwich fillings towards the french food he loves, using brie, foie gras, caviar and so on.
posted by Joh at 10:40 PM on March 29, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! These are all great answers; I marked as best the ones that satisfy my baking/almost cake urge :)
posted by girlalex at 11:11 PM on March 29, 2011

What about arranging a bunch of nice fresh fruit on a platter so it spells "Happy Birthday" ?

It's healthy and no baking! lol
posted by iNurtureTheOdd at 6:44 AM on March 30, 2011

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