Pink Pea and Anise Syrup Cake

Pink Pea and Anise Syrup Cake

by Christine McFadden

Peas for dessert! Our new Flamingo Peas are sweet and creamy, making them perfect for this delicious cake from Christine McFadden food writer and author of Flour: A Comprehensive Guide

Mildly sweet pink flamingo peas go well with star anise. Anise syrup emphasises the flavour and moistens the cake. Spelt flour has a slightly nutty flavour and is said to be easier to digest. Golden caster sugar gives the cake a lovely rich colour, but it’s fine to use white caster sugar instead.

Makes one 23cm cake


For the cake
  • vegetable oil for greasing
  • 250g cooked pink flamingo peas or whole yellow peas (see cook’s note below)
  • 225g spelt flour (or plain flour)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • seeds from 4–5 star anise pods (about 20 seeds)
  • 150g golden caster sugar
  • 200g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into chunks
  • 3 medium eggs, preferably organic
For the syrup
  • 10–12 whole star anise pods
  • 125g golden caster sugar
  • 6 tbsp water
For the pea decoration
  • 1 tbsp marzipan
  • a good pinch of beetroot powder or 1–2 drops pink food colouring
To cover the cake
  • glacé icing (about 300g) or caster sugar


  1. Grease a 23cm round loose-based cake tin and line with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 160°C/gas 3.
  2. Tip the cooked peas into the bowl of a food processor. Purée for 2–3 minutes or until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl often.
  3. Tip the flour, baking powder and salt into a sieve set over a bowl. Shake through the sieve, then sieve once more to make sure the mixture is well blended.
  4. Crush the star anise seeds using a pestle and mortar. Add 3 tablespoons of the sugar, then crush again.
  5. Put the butter, remaining sugar and the star anise mixture into a large bowl. Using a hand-held electric mixer, beat for 3–4 minutes until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, alternating with the flour mixture, and beating well after each addition. Stir in the puréed peas, mixing thoroughly.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, turning half way through, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes to settle, then carefully turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
  8. To make the syrup, put the star anise pods, sugar and water into a saucepan, preferably non-stick. Bring to the boil, then simmer for a minute or two until the bubbles look syrupy. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  9. To make the syrup, put the star anise pods, sugar and water into a saucepan, preferably non-stick. Bring to the boil, then simmer for a minute or two until the bubbles look syrupy. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  10. To make the pea decorations, combine enough colouring with the marzipan until evenly mixed to a delicate pink. Break off pea-sized chunks and mould into small balls.
  11. Cover the cold cake with either glacé icing (you’ll need about 300g) or simply sprinkle with caster sugar. Arrange the pink balls attractively on top.

Cook's note

To prepare the peas, soak 90g dried pink peas in cold water for 6–8 hours. Drain, then put in a saucepan and cover with fresh water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for about 45 minutes, or until soft but not disintegrating. Add more water if necessary. Remove from the heat, leave to cool in the cooking water, then drain.

Recipe © Christine McFadden 2020

Christine McFadden
Christine McFadden


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