Strawberry-and-Wild-Fennel Compote with Pound Cake
- ACTIVE: 45 MIN
- TOTAL TIME: 3 HRS
- SERVINGS: 8
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
- All-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
- Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
- 4 large egg yolks
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 2 small, young wild fennel bulbs (or 1 small cultivated fennel bulb)—halved, cored and diced
- 1/2 vanilla bean—split, seeds scraped and bean reserved
- 1 pound small strawberries, diced
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Wild fennel pollen, for sprinkling (see Note)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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