I have to admit to being a lot of a fennelophile. This sweet, crispy vegetable is so versatile. I almost always have a batch of fennel salad (wafers of fennel with evoo, verjuice, salt & pepper) ready-made in a Tupperware container in my fridge.
Late last night, I baked fennel into a cake for the first time – all because I couldn’t find walnuts – and it turned out beautifully. Naturally, I had to taste-test the result for breakfast and I also ate some for dessert after my tom yum gai tonight. And the result? The fennel softened and caramelised better than I could have hoped, so here I am sharing the recipe with anyone who will listen (or read).
Recipe #42: Fennel and carrot cake.
You will need:
► 2 eggs
► ½ tsp vanilla paste
► 250g brown sugar
► 180mL olive oil
► 125g plain flour
► 1 tsp bicarb soda
► ½ tsp allspice, ground
► ½ tsp salt
► 2 medium-sized carrots, grated
► ¾ cup fennel, cut into 2-3mm slices [choose a nice, round female bulb – and remember not to use the green bits or core]
► 1 quantity of cheesecake filling (Recipe #7), mixed with another tbsp icing sugar, zest of 1 lime, and at least an extra heaped tbsp of creme fraiche
Whisk the first four ingredients together, then mix in all other ingredients except for the carrot, fennel and cheesecake filling. Once the mixture is smooth, fold in the carrots and fennel.
Pour the mixture into a greased loaf tin and bake in a 180°C oven for ~60 minutes > test the middle of a cake with a skewer/knife and, if it comes out clean, it’s cooked.
You can serve the cake straight away. Or, if you do as I did, you can leave it to cool in the tin then turn it out in the morning; this makes the bottom of the cake congeal into caramellish heaven while the top of the cake keeps a crispy crust. Then you can slice yourself a slab and serve it with a generous dollop of the edited cheesecake filling for a melt-in-your-mouth sensation.
If you haven’t baked a cake in a while, please try your hand at this one. It is so simple and I promise it won’t disappoint.