Roasted Pine Nut, Coffee and Anise Cake

. May, 2016
Photography by Claire Aldous.
Roasted Pine Nut, Coffee and Anise Cake

This easy recipe is based on an Armenian nutmeg cake. It cooks out to a tender cake atop a gorgeous crunchy, caramelised base. Fragrant from the warmth of toasted anise seeds, nutmeg and fresh New Zealand pine nuts, it’s a cake that can be served any time of the day. 

Serves: 8


250 grams plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1½ cups firmly packed brown sugar
125 grams butter, diced
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup milk
1 large egg, size 7
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons instant espresso coffee granules
2 teaspoons anise seeds, toasted
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
½ cup chopped pine nuts, roasted


Preheat the oven to 160°C fan bake.

Grease a 20cm round cake tin and line the base with baking paper.

Put the flour, baking powder and brown sugar in a food processor. Add the diced butter and pulse until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. 

Take out 1½ cups of the mixture and press firmly into the base of the cake tin, using the back of a spoon to get an even layer. 

Dissolve the baking soda in the milk and mix in the egg, vanilla, coffee granules, anise seeds and the nutmeg. 

Add to the remaining flour mixture in the food processor and pulse to combine. Add the pinenuts then pour over the base. 

Bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean and the cake is firm to the touch. Leave to sit for 5 minutes then gently run a small palette knife around the inside of the tin to prevent it sticking. Cool the cake in the tin.

To serve: Remove from the tin and dust with icing sugar. Serve with a dollop of thick plain yoghurt sprinkled with coconut sugar. I have served the cake with a bowl of poached tamarillos. 

Pantry notes: 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.