1 tablespoon whole anise seeds, toasted (see cook's tip)
3 large eggs, size 7
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
finely grated zest and juice 1 large orange
1 cup rice bran oil
1 cup plain yoghurt
2½ cups plain flour
2½ teaspoons baking powder
2 x 6-hole Texas muffin tins or a 24cm springform cake tin
½ cup lemon juice
½ cup orange juice
¾ cup caster sugar
roasted grapes, recipe below
250 grams mascarpone
edible flowers, optional
500 grams seedless red grapes
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Grease 2 x 6-hole Texas muffin tins and line the bases with a circle of baking paper. Alternatively, use a 24cm springform cake tin and line fully with baking paper.
Preheat oven to 150˚C fan bake
Syrup: Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and boil for 6 minutes until reduced and syrupy. Set aside to cool until ready to use.
Whisk the eggs, both sugars, vanilla, the orange zest and juice, oil and the yoghurt together in a large bowl. Sift in the combined flour and baking powder, add the anise seeds then fold everything together, ensuring there are no pockets of flour in the batter.
Divide between the tins and bake for 30 minutes or until golden and risen and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. (If making one cake, bake for about 65 minutes).
Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Spoon half the syrup over the cakes then leave for a few minutes for it to soak in and spoon over the remaining syrup. Leave to cool completely in the tins.
To serve: Halve the cakes and spread with mascarpone. Sandwich together then top with small bunch of roasted grapes and edible flowers if using. Makes 12 individual cakes or 1 whole cake
Cook's tip: To toast the anise seeds, place them in a dry sauté pan and place over a low heat until they smell fragrant. Don’t let them burn or it will ruin the flavour of the cake.
Pantry note: Anise, sometimes packaged as aniseed, is not the same as star anise. Aniseed is the spice used to make the French drink pastis and is widely used in Europe and the Middle East to flavour breads and cakes. (Star anise is a small star-shaped spice with 5–6 points each containing a seed. It is used in Chinese five-spice and many Asian recipes.)
Preheat the oven to 180°C fan bake.
Stir the sugar, honey and lemon juice together in a large bowl. Cut the grapes into small clusters and add to the bowl along with any loose grapes and gently turn to coat. Tip into a baking dish, scraping in the sugary juices and roast for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until some of the grapes have started to pop open. Cool.