Seed Cake Recipe For Your Unexpected Party

Seed Cake

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”.

Seed cakes on a silver serving platter.

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 Bilbo Baggin’s 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.

Try our Bread Pudding!

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.

Seed Cake batter combined in a bowl

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).

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.

Seed Cake batter in small springform pans topped with brown sugar

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.

Seed Cakes baked on a baking sheet

Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool further.

Seed Cakes on a silver serving platter

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.

closeup of a Seed Cake cut in half

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.

Check out our Strawberry Shortcake!

Seed Cake Recipe

Seed cakes on a silver serving platter.

Seed Cakes

Seed Cake – Seed cake is a traditional British cake flavored with caraway and/or other flavorful seeds. Moist, tender, and just sweet enough to pair perfectly with tea.
4.67 from 15 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: cake, Dessert
Cuisine: British, English
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 889kcal
Author: Don’t Sweat The Recipe


  • 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.


Calories: 889kcal | Carbohydrates: 88g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 52g | Saturated Fat: 31g | Cholesterol: 310mg | Sodium: 486mg | Potassium: 171mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 57g | Vitamin A: 1712IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 84mg | Iron: 2mg

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  1. I baked this today having had a hankering for the cake my grandma used to make. Slightly different as hers didn’t have alcohol in it but nevertheless it took me straight back. Great recipe, very tasty. I used dark rum as that’s what I had in but it worked a treat. Will be the recipe with friends and family x5 stars

  2. I have got to make these. I didn’t get the idea from Lord of the Rings even though I do marathons on those. I got the idea from Agatha Christie, my favorite author. But what can I use instead of brandy. We are none alchohol drinkers here.

    1. I did some digging, Elaine. There are two camps. Some people say that you can just skip it, and others have all sorts of crazy fixes. This recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of brandy which is not an insignificant amount of liquid. I would replace it with either some apricot syrup (from a can of apricots) or use apple or grape juice if you don’t want to bother with the can of fruit. Let us know how it turned out.

      1. Thank you. I’ll give that both a try and see how my family like them and let you know. They do look delicious. Thanks for sharing this recipe.5 stars

  3. I made this 2 years ago for my first all-day Lord of the Rings marathon with friends. I was surprised by how much I liked it! I could not stop gobbling them up. This weekend, I am having another movie marathon and I knew I had to make these again – this time I decided to make a double batch!5 stars

  4. These were delicious! I ended up making the recipe twice – first, exactly as you wrote it, and then a second time with modifications. The first time around, I used coconut oil to grease the pans, and with the whole cup of butter plus the coconut oil, they were just too greasy. But the flavor was wonderfully intense! The second time around, I made some modifications: I swapped the caraway seeds for flax seeds (because I didn’t love the licorice taste), added a half teaspoon of cinnamon, and used almond flour instead of self-rising flour, which gave the cakes a really wonderful, nutty flavor. My coworkers gobbled up both batches, so I think they were equal successes. Thanks for sharing.5 stars

    1. Oh, thanks so much for commenting on this. This is vindication for me that I can use against my wife. 🙂 I really had to fight her on letting me make this. I am very happy that you made it and enjoyed it. And yes, I was rather blown away with it because of the caraway seeds as well. I had never tasted a ‘sweet treat’ with that kind of flavor.

    2. This dish, and this recipe, has become a Fall through Winter staple in my house for the last three years. It’s a perfect pairing with Fortnum & Mason black tea (take your pick of their vast offerings), and I’ve taken it on picnics with my wife and kids. I too was inspired to search for a recipe after dreaming about seedcakes since I was a kid after reading the Hobbit for the first time—and now, thanks to this excellent recipe, the book has become even more real each time I read it!5 stars

    3. Thank you Anna, I “do not” like caraway and that was holding me back. I do like flaxseed and will, after all, give it a try.5 stars

  5. What a interesting cake!! I love that it was inspired by the Hobbit and that you let your husband post 🙂 Thanks for sharing on My 2 favorite things on Thursday! Pinned!

  6. Fascinating “must try.” Thank you for the recipe and lovely pictures. And yes, it’s true, you NEVER know when company will just drop by for a visit.5 stars

      1. I’m with you on needing to eat seed cake after reading Tolkien (or Christi). Thx much for this nicely done recipe. I chose it out of an array of others and added touches of orange marmalade and grated lemon rind.5 stars

        1. Well, thank you so much, Vicki! I appreciate it. I hope yours turned out even better than ours. The orange and lemon sound GREAT! Now I can ask my wife if I can do a pork pie! 🙂

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