Serves a Crowd

Lemon Anise and Cardamom cake with Balsamic Sour Cherry Sauce

March 19, 2010
1 Ratings
  • Serves 10-12
Author Notes

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

What You'll Need
  • For the cake
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons anise extract
  • zest of two lemons
  • 10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts, chopped finely
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • For the balsamic cherry sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3 cups dried sour cherries
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9?x9? square baking pan.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Add the cornstarch slurry to the sauce and cook, stirring, for another 4-5 minutes until the sauce bubbles and thickens.
  8. 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.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Lisa Henkemeyer
    Lisa Henkemeyer
  • AntoniaJames
  • thecookbookchronicles
  • Culinista Annouchka
    Culinista Annouchka
  • eatboutique

7 Reviews

Lisa H. February 9, 2021
EASY TO THROW TOGETHER??? HA HA HA!!! This is a delicious cake. But VERY labor intensive. Plan on at least 3 hours just to prepare. Tons of prep work required. To the author: Have you even MADE this cake? If you have, you would not say 'throw together!' Also, there is no indication when to add the lemon zest. I added to the cream. You can use fresh anise seed, 4 Teas = 2 Teas extract. Also, there is way too much crumb topping, could be cut in half.
AntoniaJames March 19, 2010
Bet this would be good with orange instead of lemon, too. I'm going to a brunch tomorrow, and may just try this, to take along. Really like the pine nut streusel! ;o)
Yes, it would also be lovely with orange zest! Hope you enjoy the recipe.
thanks Culinista
Culinista A. March 19, 2010
Sounds delicious
eatboutique March 19, 2010
Very, very pretty.