Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lemon-Fennel Cake with Strawberry-Rhubarb Conserve

It took me a few hours to figure out what to do with my huge haul of strawberries from the market last week.  First I thought I would make strawberry shortcake.  Simple, allowing the strawberries to show off.  Then I considered this strawberry summer cake.  Then this strawberry upside-down cake with cardamom.  I couldn't decide!  I agonized!  I searched!  I read recipe after recipe trying to find something that would be worthy of these first summer strawberries.  I had settled on a strawberry-rhubarb crumble - the perfect way, I thought, to highlight the short period of time in which both are available!

Then, at the last minute, I didn't.  I decided to make an unrelated cake, and top it with a simple conserve of strawberries and rhubarb.  And I was right.  I will surely be making some cakes, pies, and crumbles with the strawberries to come, but for now, this was exactly what I wanted.  Plus, a bonus!  There's leftover conserve in the fridge, ready to be spooned directly into my mouth when I need a shockingly delicious reminder that it's finally, officially summer!  Happy summer, everyone!

Lemon-Fennel Cake with Strawberry-Rhubarb Conserve

The combination of ground pine nuts, yogurt, and olive oil gives this cake an almost pudding-like texture.  It is not too sweet, and is very delicious toasted the next morning for breakfast.

For the cake:
1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup ground pine nuts
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
1/3 cup olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8-inch standard loaf pan, and line with parchment so that the edges are folded over the sides like this (this makes the cake SO EASY to get out of the pan - it's like a little hammock you can use to lift it onto a cooling rack!). 

Sift together the flour, pine nuts, baking soda, fennel seeds and salt.  In a separate bowl, combine sugar, eggs, and lemon zest.  Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Fold in the olive oil.  Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan, and bake for 50-55 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and then remove to a cooling rack and cool completely.

Serve with strawberry-rhubarb conserve and a little dollop of plain whole-milk yogurt.

For the conserve:
2 cups hulled and halved super-ripe strawberries
2 cups chopped fresh rhubarb
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon corn starch
zest of 1 lemon, in strips

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Cook, stirring frequently, until thickened and bubbling, but not so long that the fruit loses all of its shape.  Remove the lemon zest strips, cool and serve.

1 comment:

  1. This looks delightful! I would probably eat it with a spoon out of the jar :)