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Fennel-spiced semolina cake with yoghurt

This combination of citrus, sugar and spice makes for an unbeatable afternoon-tea treat.

By Lisa Featherby
  • 15 mins preparation
  • 35 mins cooking plus draining, cooling
  • Serves 8 - 10
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This delicately spiced cake is at its best served warm. Begin this recipe a day ahead to drain the yoghurt.


  • 220 gm softened butter
  • 200 gm caster sugar
  • Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon and 1 orange
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 200 gm fine semolina
  • 150 gm almond meal
  • 100 gm finely chopped roasted almonds, plus extra to serve
  • 125 ml (½ cup) buttermilk
  • 3 tsp roasted fennel seeds, ground
  • Finely grated orange rind, to serve
Sweetened yoghurt
  • 300 gm thick natural yoghurt
  • 100 gm pure icing sugar, sifted
Lemon syrup
  • 3 pieces of lemon rind, removed with a peeler
  • 80 gm caster sugar


  • 1
    For sweetened yoghurt, place yoghurt in a muslin-lined sieve over a bowl and refrigerate overnight to drain. Discard liquid. Combine with sugar until smooth and refrigerate until needed.
  • 2
    Preheat oven to 170°C. Butter a 22cm cake tin and line with baking paper. Beat butter, sugar and citrus rinds in an electric mixer until pale and fluffy (8-10 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add baking powder, semolina, almond meal, almonds, citrus juice, buttermilk, fennel seed and a pinch of salt and mix to just combine. Spoon into tin and bake until cake is golden and a skewer inserted withdraws clean (35 minutes).
  • 3
    For lemon syrup, combine ingredients with 80ml water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  • 4
    Pierce cake all over with a skewer, then drizzle with syrup and set aside to cool (1-2 hours).
  • 5
    Scatter cake with extra nuts and orange rind and serve with sweet yoghurt.


Drink suggestion: Sweet late-harvest riesling.
Drink suggestion by Max Allen.

  • undefined: Lisa Featherby