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Recipes

Asha's Whole Citrus Fennel Cake

Recipe by: Asha Loupy

Makes: One 9-inch cake

Asha's Whole Citrus Fennel Cake
Photo by:  

Melati Citrawireja

Inspired by Sicilian whole citrus cakes, this cake is made with oranges and lemons that have been cooked and blended into a coarse paste instead of butter or oil. The blended fruit not only keeps the cake moist for days, it also lends a full-bodied citrus flavor and just a hint of pleasing bitterness. A combination of all-purpose (or, Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour) and almond flour gives the cake a dense, pound cake-like crumb. Hariyali fennel is used twice in this cake — some is ground and added to the batter, complementing the citrus, and some seeds are left whole and sprinkled over the cake with turbinado sugar for a sparkly crunch. 

While this cake is wonderful as a snacking cake alongside an afternoon cup of chai, it truly shines when paired with whatever fruit is in season and a very generous dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream. My trick for a truly balanced dessert? The tiniest pinch of salt in the whipped cream.

Baker's note: This cake is its best self the day after baking — it needs ample time to fully cool and settle, so it is a great make-ahead dessert. Then, all you need to do day of is slice some seasonal fruit, toss it with a little sugar, and whip some cream. 

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Ingredients

  • Neutral oil or butter, for greasing
  • 480 grams whole citrus, I liked 2 small-to-medium oranges and 1 large lemon or 2 large lemons and 1 medium orange
  • 1½ cups (203 grams) all-purpose or gluten-free flour
  • 1 cup (100 grams) super fine almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon Hariyali Fennel, finely ground, plus 1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
  • 2½ teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt or 1¼ teaspoons Morton’s kosher salt or fine sea salt
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons demerara or turbinado sugar
For serving
  • Seasonal fruit, sliced and macerated with a little bit of sugar
  • Lightly sweetened whipped cream

Methods

  1. Place the whole citrus and 2 cups of water in an Instant Pot. Secure the lid and pressure cook on high for 20 minutes. Let the pressure cooker naturally release and then unvent and open. Alternatively, the citrus can be gently boiled for 1½ to 2 hours in a medium covered saucepan. Transfer the cooked citrus to a plate, discarding any liquid left in the pressure cooker, and allow to cool until warm enough to touch. 
  2. While the citrus is cooling, preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil or butter a 9x3-inch round baking pan and line the bottom with a parchment round.
  3. Cut the citrus open and remove any seeds. Add the whole citrus to a blender and blend into a rustic paste (don’t worry if there are little bits of citrus peel, this will create character in the cake). Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
  5. Place the eggs, granulated white sugar, and brown sugar in a large bowl. Using an electric hand mixer, beat on medium high until the mixture has lightened in color and becomes thick and ribbony, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the reserved citrus purée and vanilla extract and beat to combine, about 30 seconds.
  6. Add the dry ingredients and beat on medium low until almost all the dry ingredients have been incorporated into the wet. If there are still streaks of dry ingredients, switch to a spatula to fold the rest in (you don’t want to overmix the batter and develop the gluten here). Transfer the batter into the greased and lined baking pan. Tap a few times on the counter to level out the batter. Sprinkle the top evenly with the demerara sugar and remaining 1 teaspoon fennel seeds.
  7. Bake until a toothpick can easily pierce the cake and come out clean, about 50 to 55 minutes. Remove from the oven, place on a baking rack, and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Run a knife between the cake and the pan, then carefully remove the cake and place it back on the rack to cool completely.
  8. Enjoy with your favorite fruit and lightly sweetened whipped cream. Cake can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

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