Honey for ray

Honey for ray

Sticky Fingers Green Thumb
Tara Pearce, Tim Hillier

This one goes out to my baby boy. He was two months old when I wrote this recipe and I like to think it will become his most requested afternoon treat. The combination of lemon myrtle, fennel and honey syrup creates a creamy, floral finish. I like to decorate this cake with Australian native flora and eucalyptus, and a handful of crumbled shortbread. It’s soft and lush, just like Ray Lou.


Quantity Ingredient
3 tablespoons ground lemon myrtle
3 tablespoons fennel seeds
500g unsalted butter
330g raw (demerara) sugar
6 egg
250ml milk
600g plain (all-purpose) flour
4 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
80g fennel, finely grated

Honey icing

Quantity Ingredient
4 teaspoons honey
600g icing (confectioners’) sugar
100g unsalted butter, softened
250g cream cheese, chilled


  1. This recipe makes one tier with two layers. To create the cake pictured, as a guide you’ll need to triple the ingredients; as well as a 20 cm cake tin, you’ll need one 23 cm and one 25 cm cake tin.
  2. Preheat the oven to 175°C. Lightly grease and line two 20 cm round cake tins with baking paper.
  3. Toast the lemon myrtle and fennel seeds together in a saucepan over a medium heat until fragrant. Remove from the heat, transfer to a large mixing bowl and leave to cool completely.
  4. Once cooled, add the butter and sugar to the bowl with the toasted lemon myrtle and fennel seeds and cream together for 2–3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and continue to beat until incorporated. Stir in the milk, then sift over the flour, baking powder and salt and fold together to form a batter.
  5. Using your hands, squeeze the grated fennel to remove any excess moisture, then add it to the batter and stir together gently to distribute evenly. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared tins and bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the centres comes out clean.
  6. Meanwhile, make the honey syrup. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan set over a medium-high heat and stir together until the honey dissolves. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat. Set aside.
  7. While the cakes are hot and in their tins, prick the tops with a fork and ladle over 250 ml of the honey syrup. Cool on a wire rack.
  8. To make the honey icing, beat all the ingredients together in a bowl using a hand-held mixer, or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until smooth.
  9. Place one of the cooled cakes on a serving plate or stand and spread with half the icing, then place the second cake on top. Spread over the remaining icing and serve with the remaining honey syrup.

A perennial that keeps giving

  • You can eat every part of the fennel plant. The bulbs and feathery fronds are the most consumed parts, but once your fennel has ‘bolted’ you can also use the yellow flowers and seeds as edibles, or collect the fennel pollen. To do this, bundle together some freshly cut flower heads, cover with a paper bag and tie it closed, then turn the bags upside down and shake the pollen loose. Once the flower heads on your plant start to dry out, use the same technique to collect the seeds.

Lemon myrtle

  • This is an Australian native ingredient with subtle eucalyptus notes. It can be substituted with lemon balm or lemon thyme.
edible flowers
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