Prep + cook time 2 hours (+ standing & cooling) serves 6
225g unsalted butter, softened
220g caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1 tablespoon finely grated orange rind
80ml orange juice
225g plain flour
2½ teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons fennel seeds, toasted
80g icing sugar
160ml double cream
2 tablespoons sugar-coated fennel seeds (see tip)
1 preheat oven to 170°c/150°c fan. Grease a 10.5 x 25cm loaf pan (top measurement); line base
and sides with baking paper.
2 beat butter, caster sugar, vanilla bean paste and rind in a medium bowl with an electric mixer for 5 minutes or until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, frequently scraping down side of bowl. Add juice and combined sifted flour and baking powder, and fennel seeds; beat on low speed until just combined. Spread mixture into pan; smooth surface.
3 bake cake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave cake in
pan for 10 minutes before turning, top-side up, onto a wire rack to cool.
4 process ricotta and icing sugar until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl; fold in cream.
5 using a serrated knife, split cake in half. Place base layer on a platter; spread with half the ricotta cream. Top with the remaining cake layer; spread top of the cake with the remaining ricotta cream. Sprinkle with sugar-coated fennel seeds.
Sugar-coated fennel seeds are available from Indian grocers and specialist spice shops. They’re one of the ingredients in a mix called mukhwas, traditionally served as a breath freshener after an Indian meal.
Cake can be made a day ahead; store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Ice on the day of serving.