I came across this recipe in a magazine called Easy Desserts that comes from the publishers of Fine Cooking. What caught my attention was the word easy. Long complicated recipes with tons of ingredients just do not appeal to me. Easy usually spells success too! I love the flavor of anise. I remember having Stella D'Oro anisette toast cookies (if you're Italian you'll know exactly what I am talking about) as a child at my grandparents house and just love them to this day. I'm also very partial to pound cakes and enjoy making them as much as I enjoy eating them. When I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it - right away! This is really, really good as long as you enjoy anise. The flavor is there. You can't miss it and I love it. The only thing that I did differently than what the recipe called for was try and grind the anise in a small chopper. Doesn't work well. You are supposed to grind them down to fine in a grinder, which I don't have. The difference probably is that you can see them in this cake, where if you use a grinder you wouldn't see them. Doesn't matter to me, I love the cake just the same.
2 tablespoons anise seeds
1/3 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 5 in loaf pan and dust with flour. Place the anise seeds in a small skillet and toast over medium heat until fragrant, 2 or 3 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder and grind fine. Set aside.
Combine the sour cream, eggs, egg yolk and vanilla in a glass measuring cup and lightly beat. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
Combine the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary.
With the mixer on medium-low speed, pour the egg mixture into the bowl in a slow stream, stopping the mixer once or twice to scrape down the sides.
Turn the mixer to low speed and add the flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add the ground anise to the batter and then mix for 30 seconds on medium speed.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake the cake until it is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, invert it onto a wire rack and then turn it right side up on a rack to cool completely. Slice and serve.