Cakes & Bakes
Orange, Honey and Fennel Seed Bundt Cake
Well, it’s been a while since I sat down and starting writing a blog post. Feels good to be back in this familiar place. Usual excuses of life and lack of time getting in the way I’m afraid, but also if I’m honest, my ‘baking mojo’ has not been itself in recent weeks. I’m confident that it is just a minor blip, I’ve baked most of my adult life and love it, I’ve just got a few other distractions now which pull me in different directions. My new business working as an Independent Stylist for jewellery and accessory company Stella and Dot is going very well, but where I might have written a blog post before I am now putting time into building my business. I’m very much enjoying it though and feel delighted to have found something that I love doing, which pays but a the same time allows me to be there for my children as well. Not an easy combo to find which is why I am so pleased.
In addition, my son has also been poorly on and off since Christmas, and every time, even though we go through it a lot, I get really worried. Due to all his allergies he is far more prone to picking things up and when he does he gets them twice as bad and for twice as long. He seems to have recovered from the last lot now and I’ve got my fingers crossed that he stays well for a while now.
So my hope is that you will still enjoy my blog posts, even if they might not be quite as frequent as before. Friends often say to me, ‘I just don’t know how you do it’ but I love having all the different elements that make up my life. Homemade by Fleur is very much part me and will continue to be for a long time to come I hope.
So moving onto my latest bake, let me introduce to you, my second bundt cake. Not quite as highly decorated as my bejewelled bundt cake before Christmas, but I did not think I could really pull another one of those out of the bag at this point in the year, so this one is a bit more demure but hopefully no less appealing.
I think what really sets this cake apart is the slightly unusual combination of flavours, but for me this is probably the best reason to try it. This orange, honey and fennel seed cake is delicious and definitely a cake made for sharing. The fennel seed is something I use quite a bit in savoury recipes (it’s amazing in homemade bread for example) but it is not commonly used in sweet recipes. This cake breaks all the rules because mixed with orange and honey it is the perfect combination of spicy and sweet. If you have not used fennel seed before, it is easily sourced in your local supermarket and can be found with the other herbs and spices. It has notes of aniseed which is a flavour I adore. When I was young my brother and I were allowed to get a ‘quarter of sweets’ every Saturday morning and without fail I would get aniseed twists or aniseed balls and suck them all week. I can taste it now if I close my eyes and concentrate.
120g/4oz unsalted butter, softened
180g/6oz self-raising flour
1 level teaspoon baking powder
150g/8oz caster sugar
5 tbsp honey (3 for the cake and 2 for the syrup)
2 tablespoons milk
Finely grated zest and juice of 2 oranges (saving a little bit to sprinkle on top)
2 tbsp of water
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 tsp aniseeds (can usually be found in health food shops)
1 star anise (optional)
50g icing sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350°F/Gas 4. Grease and line a medium sized bundt cake tin. If you don’t have a bundt cake tin a normal 20cm loose bottomed cake tin will also be fine.
2. Put the butter, flour, baking powder, sugar, eggs, 3 tbsps of honey, milk and zest in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared cake tin, smooth the top and cook for 25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
3. Whilst the cake is cooking, dry fry the fennel seeds and aniseeds in a small frying pan or saucepan over a medium heat for about 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Need to keep a careful eye on these as they can burn quickly. Transfer to a pestle and grind the seeds as fine as possible.
4. In a small pan, combine the remaining honey, juice, water, ground seeds and star anise (if using). Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the mixture has thickened to a syrup. Set aside.
5. When the cake is cooked, leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes then poke holes in the top with a chopstick/skewer. Pour the syrup over the cake, making sure it gets soaked into the holes. The syrup must seep into the cake completely before you take it out from the tin.
6. Once out of the tin, mix the icing sugar with a few drops of water to make a paste and drizzle over the cake. Finish off by sprinkling the remainder of the zest on top.