Fennel bread

SPICE IS NICE: This bread gets a boost from an unlikely source: fennel. (Robert Lachman / Los Angeles Times)

Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Servings: 12

Note: From Donna Deane. If you'd like, serve this bread with honey butter (2 tablespoons honey whipped with one-fourth cup softened butter).

1 tablespoon toasted fennel seed

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

1 1/4 cups milk

1/4 cup honey

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

1 pound cherries, stemmed, pitted and halved (at room temperature)

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf dish.

2. Grind the fennel seed using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, then combine in a large bowl with the flour, baking powder and salt. Sprinkle the brown sugar over and mix to thoroughly combine, pressing out any lumps.

3. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg then add the milk, honey and melted butter. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the milk mixture. Stir until almost combined before adding the pine nuts and cherries, then stir just until evenly mixed.

4. Spoon the dough into the loaf dish and spread evenly. Bake until the center tests done with a wooden pick, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Check the bread 10 minutes before the timer goes off; if the bread is browning too quickly, tent loosely with foil. Let cool slightly before running a knife around the sides of the loaf dish to loosen, then invert onto a cooling rack and let cool to warm before slicing.

Each serving: 232 calories; 6 grams protein; 36 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fiber; 9 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 28 mg. cholesterol; 356 mg. sodium.