Grapes, fennel, and olive oil star in this simple but unexpected cake. The batter comes together in one bowl and is dotted with ripe, juicy grapes. The cake is scattered with a mixture of sugar, fennel seeds, and olive oil that bakes into a crispy, fragrant, streusel-like topping. Serve the cake warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for an elegant dessert, but make sure to save some leftovers, because this cake is just as good for breakfast.
- Heat the oven to 325°F. Prepare a 9-inch springform pan by greasing it and lining with parchment paper.
- Make the fennel sugar topping. Use a mortar and pestle or spice grinder to grind the fennel down to a coarse powder. In a small mixing bowl, use your hands to rub the ground fennel into the sugar and salt until the mixture is fragrant. Add in the 1½ teaspoons of olive oil and stir with a spoon until the mixture takes on the texture of wet sand. Set aside.
- Make the cake. Toss half the grapes with 2 teaspoons of flour and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the olive oil, sugar, salt, baking powder, and eggs and whisk until well combined—the mixture should be thick and glossy. Add the sour cream and whisk until homogenous. Then add the flour and whisk until just combined before gently mixing in the floured grapes. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place the remaining, un-floured grapes on top. Evenly distribute the fennel sugar over the batter. Bake for about 1 hour, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before removing the cake from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Note: Store leftover cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Zola Gregory is a writer and recipe developer based in Seattle. Having previously worked as a pastry chef and baker, she now enjoys helping others find success in their own kitchens through her stories, recipes, and baking classes.