As the husband of the woman running this site, I am occasionally allowed to get a recipe posted. Allow me to offer “The Seed Cake”. I want to thank my wife for allowing my ‘geek’ to proudly go forth with this post. I will admit, this is a bit nerdy, but what’s wrong with a little fun from time to time?
Some called for ale, and some for porter, and one for coffee, and all of them for cakes . . . A big jug of coffee had just been set in the hearth, the seed-cakes were gone, and the dwarves were starting on a round of buttered scones . . . ‘And raspberry jam and apple-tart,’ said Bifur. ‘And mince-pies and cheese,’ said Bofur. ‘And pork-pie and salad,’ said Bombur. ‘And more cakes — and ale — and coffee, if you don’t mind,’ called the other dwarves through the door. ‘Put on a few eggs, there’s a good fellow!’ Gandalf called after him, as the hobbit stumped off to the pantries. ‘And just bring out the cold chicken and pickles!’” An Unexpected Party, The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien.
As a fan of anything “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit”, one of the things that interested me the most was the Hobbit’s fascination with comfort and food. Their lives were intertwined with it so much that even in the midst of their harrowing adventures they would interject comments regarding both (“‘So you’ve come on this little expedition too? Where do we get bed and breakfast?'”).
It’s funny, but it also demonstrates how much Tolkien’s memories of the food he grew up eating in Warwickshire village in the late 19th century impacted him. So much so, that the Shire’s way of life and outlook on life in some ways mirrored his early life. And I wanted to sample it! I mean, how cool is that? To literally take a bite of history!
In “The Hobbit” several dishes are mentioned. But I was pretty sure that my wife, the one who runs this blog, was not going to be down with whipping up a Pork Pie just yet, so I settled on the Seed Cake. I had never even heard of such a thing outside of the books, so I was VERY interested in making and tasting it.
To The Recipe
The recipe is adapted from A VERY GOOD SEED-CAKE: 1861, From Mrs. Beeton’s ‘Household Management’
Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
Prepare a greased, 8″ round cake pan – with the base lined with greaseproof or silicone paper (if it needs it). We used (4) 4 1/2″ springform pans for ours.
Beat the eggs in a medium-sized bowl with a whisk. Then in another larger bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until the mixture is pale and fluffy, then gradually whisk in the beaten eggs a little at a time.
When all the eggs , sugar, and butter has been mixed, whisk in the caraway seeds, ground mace and ground nutmeg, then lightly fold in the sieved flour.
Then add the brandy, stirring it in.
Lastly add just enough milk (or cream) to loosen the mixture and give the cake batter a good ‘dropping’ consistency (this means the mixture is neither wet nor dry, but will drop off a spoon when tipped). Once at this point, spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin. Level off the surface with the back of a spoon and then finally sprinkle the brown sugar all over the top.
Bake the seed cake in the center of the oven for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. If using a 9″ springform pan bake 40 to 50 minutes.
Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool further.
This seed cake will taste even better after a day or two, so wrap it in foil or baking parchment and keep it in an airtight container. It will keep for several days.
In the end, I will heartedly exclaim “AMAZING!”. I had never tasted anything quite like it. It went very well with my iced coffee. The caraway seeds gave it a nice licorice flavor, and it was not overly sweet. It transported me back in time where I could imagine the world less frantic. A world where people sat back and enjoyed the company of others over some cakes and tea.
I very much enjoyed this recipe and yes, I would make this again. You never know when an unexpected party might show up at your door.
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup extra fine sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/3 cup self-rising flour, sifted
- 4-6 tbsp milk
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 4 tsp caraway seeds
- 3 tbsp brandy
- 1/2 tsp ground mace
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
Pre-heat the oven to 350F
Beat the eggs in a medium-sized bowl
In another larger bowl cream the butter and sugar together until the mixture is pale and fluffy
Gradually whisk in the beaten eggs a little at a time
When all the egg, sugar, and butter has been mixed, stir in the caraway seeds, ground mace and fresh ground nutmeg
Lightly fold in the flour
Add the brandy, stirring it in
Add just enough milk to loosen the mixture and give the cake batter a good ‘dropping’ consistency
Pour into cake pans and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a metal skewer comes out clean
Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool further.
Instead of the 4 small springform pans, you can use a 9" springform pan. Bake for about 40 to 50 minutes.
Recipe adapted from Oaken.