Fennel, Honey, Sea Salt Ice Cream; Chamomile Cake; Candied Fennel

A Sweet post written by on February 10, 2014


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I’m a goober so I’m a day and 3 meals late to the Giving Table, so if you can donate after reading this, please do. The current funding campaign is towards the Lunchbox Fund, an organization dedicated to fighting childhood hunger in South America. 


I used to go to my closet, thinking I had nothing to wear, but now I always tell myself I don’t know what to cook, or share, or write about. It’s a paradox that’s left me in pajamas all day on most days, scrounging around looking at bits of writings or piles of pantry things to eat, dusty relics of last season, forgotten pieces of dried, unused edibles. I’m practically a mouse in my own home around lunch time, also, known as breakfast time, around the hour of 1 or 2pm.
In reality, my list of recipes to test is being fed by many restaurant outings, some as old as last autumn. The list is ripe with growth and dust, but in the act of living, working, and eating, I forget about all of those things and just revert to the obvious. A fruit tart here, some poached eggs there. Things can get quite monotonous, if I am not too careful. An injection of new kitchen gadgets will set me aflutter with my checklists, ferociously checking off whatever I’ve put off since I didn’t have an ice cream maker, or a smoker, or fancy fryer. Food blogging turned me into a real appliance maniac. So, I guess what I am saying is, I know it’s freezing cold where you are, but here’s ice cream, because I got an ice cream maker as a birthday gift.

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The ice cream maker is just one half of the recipe. The other half involves a meal finisher I ate last year during a lovely dinner at Central Kitchen – a chamomile cake, with vanilla ice cream, candied fennel and figs. This sounds shocking to say, but my interpretation leaves out the figs which I feel always try to dominate plates whenever they show up. I kid – Figs, I love you.


Toasted Fennel Seed, Honey, Sea Salt Ice Cream

This is a non-egg recipe, if you like custard style ice creams, Saveur’s fennel ice cream recipe might be worth checking out.


2 c. heavy cream

1 TB fennel seed

+ The day before making ice cream, grind fennel seed using a mortar and pestle – it doesn’t have to be a fine powder, just broken. Then, toast it for a minute or so until it is toasted and aromatic. You should be able to smell it. Add the fennel to the cream and give it a good shake. Refrigerate overnight. Don’t forget to freeze ice cream maker’s bowl.

1 c milk

3/4 ts good sea salt

8 TB honey

2 TB Sugar

+ Prepare an ice bath by putting ice cubes and water into a large bowl that your mixing bowl will fit into.

+ In a metal bowl, stir milk, sea salt, honey, and sugar until the sugar and honey dissolves. Then, place your bowl in your ice bath to cool.

+ Remove fennel cream from the fridge and strain your cream to remove large bits of fennel. I used a fine mesh sieve. You can also use multiple layers of cheesecloth.

+ Add the cold cream to the milk mixture, mixing until well combined. Allow everything to cool completely before churning. Mine took a full 20 minutes to get partially frozen. Afterwards, I put it into a container to freeze overnight.

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Meyer Lemon, Chamomile, Olive Oil Cake

Ok, so I am going to share insights into this cake, because I’m not sure I am “done” with it… and it’s so hard to finish a cake recipe. I began with this basic recipe. It’s a classic chiffon cake using olive oil. It’s beautiful, but much too sweet for my tastes. I suggest reducing the sugar ratio.

When I made the cake, I chose meyer lemons because I wanted the flavor to be less acidic than lemons, you can use other citrus if you want, but I am not sure how the acid in various fresh juices really measure up to each other. Cakes are finicky you know?

To add the chamomile, I infused the oil with dried chamomile tea. It’s best if done over a two week period. Heat up 2 cups of oil to 180 degrees fahrenheit and pour it over 3 bags of dried chamomile tea. If you use the kind with whole blossoms, you’ll need to strain it before adding it to the cake. Never use fresh ingredients when infusing oil, as that can result in botulism, then death, which is not very fun.

Proceed with recipe as written. I cut my cake into fun shapes using cookie cutters and even made a mini cake by stacking them. 


Candied Fennel

1 fennel bulb, green parts removed and sliced very thinly using a mandolin. (I cut these itno smaller pieces as well, but it’s up to you)

2 c water

1 c sugar

vanilla bean

spices (if you’re not making this to go with my combination of cake and ice cream here, toss in some anise stars or cinnamon sticks)

+ Bring contents to a low boil and cook, slowly until fennel becomes transparent and tender to the bite. Your water level should be traumatically reduced…

+ I keep mine in a glass jar in the fridge and top my ice cream, oat meals… you can also serve it with your cheese plates like they do at Central Kitchen.

+ You can also dry these and coat them like you would citrus zest. Just drain it, coat it in fine, granulated sugar, and allow to dry completely.

So you’re probably thinking, this is a terrible lunch, and I’d have to agree it is. In my world, lunch is sweet, and not at all healthy. Mainly, because I don’t have time to heat up things or care. I literally just ate this for lunch. While I encourage others to eat a healthful lunch, I cannot but admit to being a terrible eater on most days. Lunch, is whatever is easy or whatever I can find. Unlike me, most people cannot afford the luxury of eating whatever they want – so if you can, just head over to the Lunchbox Fund and make a donation. I just did!

Another admission: throughout high school, I ate chocolate cookies and chocolate milk for lunch nearly every day because our school food was so bad.  In elementary school, my lunch was milk and vanilla ice cream.

When do I eat healthy? There’s no real time designated. But mostly, I like a healthful dinner or on weekends, will eat a weekly fill of fruit and salads.

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10 Responses to “Fennel, Honey, Sea Salt Ice Cream; Chamomile Cake; Candied Fennel”

  1. cynthia says:

    This is crazy beautiful, Phi! That second to last shot — just too awesome for words. And I just love the absolutely perfect flavor combos here. Fennel and honey, Meyer lemon, chamomile, and olive oil…. Impeccable. You are an artiste. 😉 Thank you for this!

  2. molly yeh says:

    i love this post so much! i was reading along and nodding my head, like, yep, yep, we totally need to hang out bc we would totally *get* each other. these cakes are beautiful and i would definitely eat this ice cream even though it is negative a million degrees out!

    • phi says:

      I recently discovered that all of my “nice” clothes were getting holes … probably bc I am spending monies on blog things like vintage utensils and non-wearable scrap fabric for props rather than real clothing. So yeah. PJ parties all the time!

  3. Tony says:

    When you say “Heat up 2 cups of oil to 140 degree”, is it Celsius or Fahrenheit?

  4. Gosh – I find myself struggling more and more these days to figure out recipes to post as well. It’s not that there isn’t any inspiration in my life but just that I sort of am starting to feel pressure to create only REALLY great recipes now that I’ve befriended all these REALLY amazing food bloggers and know they are watching. Does that make me insecure and self conscious and totally lame? Maybe. Meh.

    But anyways, I only mention that because of your first paragraph and it actually has nothing to do with this recipe because this recipe is PURE GENIUS! So many amazing flavor combinations here and ohmygod that second to last picture is out of this world. For real, Phi. You nailed it with this one!

  5. Erika says:

    These cakes are beautiful! Love all the flavor combinations.

  6. […] produced an olive oil cake stack (based on the famous Harry Baker chiffon cake) topped with fennel, honey and salted ice-cream and candied fennel (short-listed in SAVEUR 2014 blog […]

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