When I think of Italian desserts, I think of anise--that seductive, licorice-y taste that's so under-rated, and often underused in American sweets. I wanted to create a moist, everyday cake that's easy to throw together, but is easy to "dress up" for company. This cake is topped with a delicious streusel that's flecked with a small amount of toasted pine nuts and rolled oats, and subtly perfumed with the zest of lemons, and the soft floral flavor of cardamom. A simple side of sour cherries, plumped with the sweet tang of balsamic vinegar, is the perfect accompaniment. I serve this cake with a generous dollop of creme fraiche, but you could also serve it with whipped cream, or vanilla ice-cream. —thecookbookchronicles
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9?x9? square baking pan.
In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice and whipping cream. Let stand for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cardamom. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until light in color, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar, and continue beating for another minute, until creamy. Beat in the eggs and anise extract.
On low speed, beat in about 1/3 of the flour mixture until almost combined. Then, beat in 1/2 the cream mixture. Repeat, ending with the last 1/3 of the flour mixture. Spoon the batter into the baking pan in an even layer.
Dice the cold unsalted butter into 1/2" cubes, and toss together with the, light brown sugar, toasted pine nuts, rolled oats, flour and salt. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the batter. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.
FOR THE SAUCE: In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and 2 tbsp water. Add the rest of the ingredients (including the remaining water) to a medium saucepan. Stir the sauce on medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the cherries are plumped.
Add the cornstarch slurry to the sauce and cook, stirring, for another 4-5 minutes until the sauce bubbles and thickens.
TO SERVE: Serve the cherry sauce alongside each slice of cake, and top with a dollop of creme fraiche, whipped cream, or vanilla ice-cream.