A cup of tea: the simple ritual, historically at 4 pm, but anytime is time for a cup of tea. To compliment a warming cup I offer Anise Pound Cake, a luscious, light buttery cake infused with touches of anise – a Bijouxs of simple proportions.
Anise, the subtle flavor responsible for my favorite Italian cookies became the catalyst for this moist, seed-flecked cake. I am not a fan of licorice anything, but the subtle hint of anise is one I truly have come to adore. It all began with crispy anisette cookies from the local Italian store, dipped in my morning coffee, just wonderful. But coffee belongs to the morning (well, sometimes all day), and it was tea’s lovely afternoon ritual that needed a parallel – a soft moist cake just speckled with hints of anise.
The ritual of tea is one I am embracing as I work on the Bijouxs cookbook, and it is no coincidence that one chapter I am working on is Tea for Today. I use my cup of tea to reflect and review my writing, which is the most difficult part of creating a cookbook: am I able to convey what you need know about a recipe in a clear yet engaging voice? After taking “quite a talking to” by a dear friend, who is a real writer (and also one of funniest people I know) admonishing me to “write the book yourself”, there are times I question my sanity. A cup of tea and a slice of Anise Pound Cake bring perspective.
Simple ingredients, really there are four main ingredients in a pound cake; butter, sugar, eggs, and flour; just dash of salt, and anise seeds complete the recipe. I love that this recipe contains what most of us have on hand in our kitchens, just add anise seeds to your pantry and this little jewel of a cake is always within reach.
The one caveat about baking is that you must follow the directions exactly and measure carefully. I am not the best baker due to my impatience and improvisational tendencies. In this recipe there if there is one direction I do follow that is to cream the butter and sugar together for about 10 minutes; this will seem like an eternity without a stand-mixer, and still feels like one even with one, but do the work. That ever-so light texture is what is needed, and if you wait it out you will see a difference.
I like to bake the Anise Pound Cake in small loaf pans; the smaller slices seem to compliment teatime. Sadly, I just used up the last of my favorite Pani Mold disposable wooden baking molds – which I can’t seem to locate online, unless I want to purchase them in the hundreds, so in the future small loaf pans, about 6 x 3 x 2-inch will do. You may also bake the cake in a standard size loaf pan or smaller bundt cake pan, just monitor the baking time, which will vary based on the size of the pan.
I like to dust the top of the cakes, after they are cooled, with confectioners sugar. I added the signature “B” stencil; just cut out a shape or symbol out of paper, place on top of the cakes and sprinkle the powdered sugar through a small sieve over the top then carefully remove the stencil and voilà your own personalized little jewels.
A cup of tea and a slice of Anise Pound cake, a little Bijouxs anytime.