Last sunday it was snowing again and my dutchie and I didn’t find the courage to get out of our house. It’s still pretty cold outside and although the sun is shining from time to time, I am finding myself craving for the gentle warmth of the Mediterranean winters. Luckily I had Julia child and her culinary adventures in France* to keep me warm and jolly. She transported me right to the Cannebiere amidst the feverish air from Marseille in august. While she was experimenting the Provence cuisine, my stomach started aching for some of the fragrant and colorful dishes of the Provence, the peppery herbs, the fresh fish, the juicy oranges and lemons… She left me starving!
But then, I remembered the fennels in the fridge (what a wonderful winter green to warm up the wintery days with its tender colors and subtle anise taste) and that french ELLE recipe card** that I had saved for an experimenting mood. I had loved the idea: the fennel is used as a fruit, candied slowly in sugar with citrus zests and worked out in a tart with almond cream. The whole tart and almond cream concept was just a tad too complicated and fancy for a lazy sunday afternoon… I settled for an improvised almond cake with small chunks of candied fennel, and grated orange zest. It filled my little dutch house with an addicting anisette scent while I kept on savouring Julia’s Mediterranean adventures tugged under the blankets…
Winter Cake with candied fennel and orange zest
Cake d’hiver au fenouil confit et a l’orange
serves 8 pers.
prep: 15 min. cook: 40 min
3 small free range eggs (~150 g);
100 g light brown sugar;
50 g syrup from the candied fennel;
1/2 pack baking powder (~8 g);
100 g flour;
50 g almond meal;
1 pinch of salt;
150 g butter, melted + extra for greasing the cake dish;
candied slices of 1 fennel (see recipe below);
zest of 1 orange, finely grated;
Optional: 2 Tsp pastis;
Preheat the oven at 180 deg C.
Beat the eggs with the sugar and syrup until pale and fluffy.
Incorporate progressively the flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt.
Incorporate the melted butter slowly.
Reserve the 3 nicest candied fennel slices to top th cake. Cut the rest into small pieces. Toss into the cake mixture together with the orange zest and 2 Tsp pastis.
Pour the cake mixture into a greased cake shape. Arrange the reserved fennel slices on top of the cake.
Bake for 40 minutes at 180 deg C or until the cake is golden and the tip of a knife comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and unmold the cake on a pastry rack to cool.
Serve slightly warm with a fuming cup of tea…
prep: 10 min. cook: 1 hr
2 fennels washed and cut in slices (~1/5 cm thick);
400 g sugar;
35 cl water;
1 star anis;
zest and juice of 1 lemon;
Optional: 2 Tsp pastis;
Blanch the fennel slices for a couple of minutes in boiling water. Drain, rinse with cold water and drain again.
Pour the sugar, water, lemon juice and zest and star anis in a pan deep enough to contain the fennel slices. Bring to a boil.
Lay the slices of fennel carefully in the boiling syrup. Lower the heat and leave to candy for 1 hour on very low heat. Remove from the heat, add the pastis to the syrup and leave to cool.
Drain the slices of fennel (you can reserve the syrup to use in cakes or to sweeten yoghurt) and keep in the fridge in a closed recipient.
Bienvenue & Bon appetit in my kitchen!
Myriam, la gourmande.
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