Fennel Pollen is ace on cakes!
Autumn in Melbourne is just stunning! All along the train line are beautiful fennel plants in late flower. Their green feathery foliage offset by their vibrant yellow polleny flowers! I adore fennel pollen, it is simple to forage for, easy to identify, and is delicious in sweet and savoury foods, due to it’s aniseed flavour and incredible aroma. It is easy peasy to collect as well. I just snip off a few bright yellow heads and place then heads down in a paper bag. I give the bag quite a shake and then have a peak. I am always very satisfied to see a lovely collection of fennel pollen in the bottom of my bag! The flowers also look good in a vase! Wild fennel! The gift that keeps on giving!
Lately I have been sprinkling fennel pollen on top of cakes, which gives a different flavour profile. Below is my favourite recipe for Zucchini Cake with a cream cheese icing and
dusted with fennel pollen! Given that it is the glut time of zucchini – I am trying to use them up as fast as they grow (no mean feat!).
My friend Anna, who is not really into cake even loves this cake! It has walnuts and sultanas in it too! WIN!
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons bicarb of soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 generous cups grated un-peeled zucchini 1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup golden sultanas (optional)
Cream Cheese Icing
250 g cream cheese
1 cup sifted icing sugar lemon juice – to season fennel pollen
Preheat a fan forced oven to 175 degrees celcius and line a 20 cm cake tin with baking paper. I just push the paper into the tin, this is a rustic cake and looks good with rough sides.
Mix together the flour, cinnamon, bicarb of soda, salt, and baking powder. I find putting it all through a sifter works pretty well, although just using a spoon is just as fine.
Beat together the eggs, sugar, vegetable oil and vanilla bean seeds until light and creamy.
Mix in flour mixture into the egg mixture. Then add the lemon zest, the zucchini, walnuts and sultanas.
Pour the mixture into the tin, and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Cool in the tin.
When the cake is completely cold, beat the cream cheese until soft and then beat in the icing sugar and lemon juice. Adjust as required. Sometimes I feel like quite a stiff icing in which case add more icing sugar. Sometimes I feel like something that dribbles down the sides, in which case add less icing sugar and a squeeze more lemon juice.
Sprinkle with fennel pollen and admire your foraging efforts!
PS – I used gorgeous yellow zucchini in this recipe
PPS – you can also find fennel pollen in specialty food shops
PPS – this cake is delicious shared with friends!
PPPS Thanks for the amazing Kate Berry (www.hellokateberry.com) for taking some photos!