Author Notes: The original plan was to make a zucchini-lemon bread, but the zucchinis made their way into the roasted chicken plan (pan?) instead. Eying the wild fennel outside, knowing I still had lemons in the basket on the counter, and still wanting a light, summery, and slightly sweet snack the pairing seemed ideal. This cake is light and ever so slightly salty; I used salt and salted butter, you may choose to use unsalted butter for a sweeter palate. It makes for an easy and sophisticated dessert and as I ate my slice after dinner, imagined it slathered in rhubarb jam for breakfast the next morning. —rachelRS
cups AP flour
teaspoons baking powder
cup Turbinado sugar or granulated white sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
cup melted butter, cooled (salted or unsalted according to taste)
lemon, zested and juiced
cup chopped fennel fronds, all stems removed
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter (and flour) a 12" round cake pan. If you like a thicker cake use an 8" or 9" pan and adjust baking time at end.
- In a small mixing bowl mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and 3/4 cups of sugar until the mixture begins to turn pale in color and thicken slightly. Add melted butter in a steady stream and continue whisking until the emulsion is pale yellow and ribbons form when "dropped/dripped" from the whisk. Mix in lemon juice, zest and fennel fronds reserving 1/2 tsp each of zest and chopped fronds.
- Add the dry ingredients to the eggs, sugar, and butter mixture and mix to incorporate (I like to use a rubber spatula but sticking with your whisk works equally well). The batter should be thoroughly combined and smooth.
- Pour the batter into prepared pan and smooth the top if necessary with the back of a spatula or spoon. In a small bowl combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar, lemon zest, and fennel fronds by rubbing sugar between your finger tips (it should feel like wet sand and let out a beautiful aroma of lemon and fennel). Sprinkle sugar mixture over the top of the cake and bake in the middle of the oven until top is golden and springs back when lightly touched. 20-25 minutes for a 12" pan. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes then turn out and return to rack to cool completely. Glaze if desired (with lemon juice and confectioner's sugar) while still warm. Or eat plain and simple with butter and/or jam.