Thalia Ho’s Dense Fernet Cake

published Mar 7, 2022
Dense Fernet Cake Recipe

Thalia Ho drenches this cake with fernet, making it extra dense and full of flavor.

Serves8 to 10

Makes1(8x4-inch) loaf

Jump to Recipe
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Thalia Ho

Fernet is a digestif made from a range of herbs and spices, such as rhubarb, cardamom, myrrh, ginseng, and saffron. It’s bitter, medicinal, and strong, and it’s great to bake with too, as it does well with other things of strength, like chocolate. I use it to drench this cake, which makes the cake even more dense. If you can’t find it, use another herbal liqueur instead. 

Dense Fernet Cake Recipe

Thalia Ho drenches this cake with fernet, making it extra dense and full of flavor.

Makes 1(8x4-inch) loaf

Serves 8 to 10

Nutritional Info


For the cake:

  • 1 cup

    plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 cup

    Dutch-processed cocoa powder

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons

    baking soda

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon


  • 1 1/2 cups

    granulated sugar

  • 1

    large egg

  • 2/3 cup

    crème fraîche

  • 1/2 cup

    (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing the pan

  • 2/3 cup

    hot water

For the syrup:

  • 1/4 cup


  • 1/4 cup

    granulated sugar


  1. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease and line an 8x4x3-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving a slight overhang on the long sides.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the sugar. Push the dry ingredients around the side of the bowl to form a well, then whisk in the egg and crème fraîche, followed by the melted butter, until smooth. Whisk in the water, slowly. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

  3. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. A skewer inserted into the middle should not come out clean but with a few, dense crumbs attached to it. The top should be split too. Set onto a wire rack.

  4. Meanwhile, make the syrup. Put the fernet and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar, then remove and brush the syrup over the cake. Allow to cool completely before lifting it out of the pan and serving. It will sink into itself a bit as it cools.

Recipe Notes

Excerpted from WILD SWEETNESS: Recipes Inspired by Nature © 2021 by Thalia Ho. Reproduced by permission of Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.