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Growing Good Food at Home

Star Anise and Coriander Spice Cake

Dense and rich, Star Anise and Coriander Spice Cake is an unusual—but delicious—take on the typical spice cake. Serve with fresh strawberries and vanilla ice cream.

We’ll be honest—star anise and coriander are not everyone’s cup of tea. But if you do like these spices, or you’re open-minded, you will love this cake. Unlike typical spice cakes that rely on cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cloves, this one contains a heady mixture of these slightly more exotic spices, plus butter, sugar, eggs, flour, and—surprise!—farina (cream of wheat). That last addition creates a dense, but moist texture that lingers on the tongue along with the spices.

Now, here’s a caution: do not overbake this cake! If you do, the farina will have a tendency to firm up too much, making it unpleasantly chewy. How do you avoid overbaking? Start by knowing your oven. Most ovens are out of whack, temperature-wise. The only way to truly know your oven’s temperature is with an oven thermometer. They are relatively inexpensive and will give you a proper reading. Otherwise, you could set your oven to 350 degrees F, but it might actually reach 375 or only 325. That temperature can mean the difference of an over- or under-baked cake and one that comes out perfectly.

If you don’t have an oven thermometer—and frankly, even if you do—check your cake about 10 minutes before it’s supposed to be done. As the cake bakes, it will shrink slightly and start to pull away from the sides of the pan. If this has happened, check the cake for doneness. One way is to inset a wooden toothpick into the center. When you pull it out it should be clean or have some cooked crumbs attached. You should not see batter clinging to the toothpick. If you do, give the cake five more minutes and test again. Another way to test is to push your finger lightly onto the top of the cake, in the center. If the cake leaves a dent, it needs a few more minutes. If it springs back, you’re good to remove the cake from the oven.

We suggest you serve this cake with fresh strawberries and vanilla ice cream. It’s hard to explain, but the slight tartness of the strawberries plus the ice cream brings out the best in the spicy cake. Try it with and without and let us know what you think!

Star Anise and Coriander Spice Cake

Star Anise and Coriander Spice Cake

This is one of the most delicious things you can do with coriander—a surprising, heady take on spice cake. Serve it with strawberries and vanilla ice cream for a delicious and memorable dessert.

  • Author: Norann Oleson
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Additional Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 10 to 12 1x
  • Category: Bakery


  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 5 points of star anise
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup uncooked farina, such as Cream of Wheat
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large yolks
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • Strawberries (for serving)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and butter and flour an 8×2-inch round cake pan.
  2. Into a bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In an electric coffee/spice grinder finely grind coriander seeds and star anise.
  3. In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add flour mixture, ground spices, and remaining ingredients and beat on low speed until combined. Increase speed to high and beat batter 3 minutes.
  4. Pour batter into pan and bake in middle of oven until cake pulls away slightly from side of pan, about 50 minutes. Do not overbake—check for doneness starting at 40 minutes.
  5. Cool cake in pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Invert cake onto rack and remove pan. Invert another rack onto cake and turn cake right side up. Cool cake completely. Serve with strawberries and vanilla ice cream.

Have you tried this recipe? It makes a perfect dessert for company—please tell us how it turned out for you.


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