Blackberry & Fennel Loaf with Berry Icing

March 2nd, 2024


And just like that it is autumn. I notice a change in the air and with it, the colours of the garden harvest begin to soften. From the vibrant reds, yellows, and bright greens of summer, I find purples, deep reds and golden hues filling my harvest basket. Purple plums, blackberries, ripening orange squash, kohlrabi, and golden peaches. There is something comforting about this time of year – like a warm gentle hug. 

The blackberry patch with three thornless vines has been a star producer this year. Last year most of the berries succumbed to mold with too much rain at the wrong time, so a decent harvest this year is welcome. Bowls of blackberries are picked and used in baking, preserved into jam, and excess frozen into free-flow bags.

Read more about our homegrown blackberries here.

Amongst the blackberry patch, there is a wild fennel plant that comes back each year. In part due to laziness on my part, but also because I find joy in their yellow umbriferous flowers. At this time of year, I let it go to seed (call me crazy) which I then harvest to use in cooking. 

Fennel seeds are easy to harvest, and this is about the right time to do it. Look out for wild fennel flower heads that have set seed and are nicely dried on the plant (after a dry spell). Snip off the heads, and carefully tease the seeds onto a tray. Leave to dry in a warm place for a few days then tip into a jar. About 30-40 flower heads will fill a small jar to last a year in the kitchen (more if you use a lot of fennel seeds in your cooking). 

Today I share a recipe from my 2024 recipe calendar – it is too good not to share here as well. I have heard from quite a few of you who have made it with much enjoyment. If you have a copy of this year’s calendar, here is a reminder to make it…

More Blackberry recipes on Homegrown Kitchen

Blackberry & Fennel Loaf with Berry Icing

This loaf is quite fabulous with pops of deep-flavoured blackberries and a subtle hint of fennel humming in the background. If you don’t have fennel seeds (now you know how easy they are to harvest) leave them out, or if you happen to have ground fennel use that. I am not a big fan of purchasing pre-ground spices as they lose their flavour over time. To grind a small amount of whole spice I use a mortar and pestle, or for larger quantities of spices I use often such as cumin or coriander, I use a coffee grinder that I reserve specifically for grinding spices. 
Servings 10 slices
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes


  • ½ cup (125ml) olive oil (or use 125g melted butter)
  • cup (180ml) natural yoghurt
  • cup (70g) sugar or ¼ cup honey
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • zest of half a lemon, about 2 tsp
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds (see above), finely ground in a mortar and pestle
  • 1 ½ cups (220g) plain flour (can use spelt or gluten-free flour mix)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup (about 120g) fresh or frozen (not thawed) blackberries

Blackberry Icing:

  • ¼ cup blackberries (thawed if frozen)
  • 1 tbsp natural yoghurt
  • 100 g (about 4 rounded tbsp) cream cheese
  • 2-3 tbsp icing sugar
  • Fresh blackberries to decorate (optional)


  • Preheat the oven to 180ºC (fan 160ºC). Grease a 10cm x 20cm loaf tin (can also use a 20cm round cake tin) and line it with baking paper.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the oil (or melted butter), yoghurt, sugar/honey, eggs, lemon zest and ground fennel seeds. Use a whisk to mix well.
  • In a separate (larger) mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Toss the blackberries in the flour mix to lightly coat (this will prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the loaf while cooking). Make a well and add the wet mixture. Use a spatula to fold until just combined - don’t over-mix.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 40-45 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Transfer the loaf to a cooling rack.
  • Once the loaf is cool, make the icing. Place the blackberries in a sieve and use the back of a spoon to press out the juice and discard any seeds. Add the yoghurt, cream cheese, and icing sugar to taste. Mixing until smooth. Spread the icing over the top of the loaf and decorate with fresh blackberries if using. The icing will firm up over a few hours or it can be eaten straight away, slicing to serve.
  • The loaf can be stored in a sealed container for up to 3 days.

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