© Kate Mathis
Active Time
45 MIN
Total Time
3 HR
Yield
Serves : 8

Pastry chef Bill Corbett of Absinthe Brasserie & Bar in San Francisco harvests his own fennel pollen for this dessert by hanging wild fennel flowers upside down; as they dry, the pollen falls into a container below.    More Great Cakes  

How to Make It

Step 1    

Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 9-by-4 1/2-by-3-inch metal loaf pan. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with 1 3/4 cups of flour and the salt, vanilla seeds and orange zest until creamy. Scrape the mixture into a bowl. Add the egg yolks, whole eggs and sugar to the mixer bowl and beat at medium-high speed with the whisk attachment until pale and thick, about 4 minutes. Stir half of the whipped eggs into the flour paste, then fold in the rest.

Step 2    

Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and bake in the center of the oven for 1 1/2 hours, until the cake is risen and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the pound cake cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Step 3    

In a 9-by-13-inch nonreactive baking dish, combine the fennel, vanilla bean, a pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons of water. Cover with foil and roast until the fennel is tender, 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss the strawberries with the sugar, lemon juice, vanilla seeds and a pinch of salt and let stand until juicy, 30 minutes.

Step 4    

Add the strawberries and their juices to the fennel, cover and roast for 30 minutes. Discard the vanilla bean and transfer the compote to a bowl. Slice the cake and set a slice on each plate. Top with the compote, sprinkle with fennel pollen and serve.

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