Caraway is a particularly delicious, though astonishingly underused, spice. So much so, that it appears as though a Welsh boy who has lived a relatively sheltered existence, is destined to be the main, or even sole, proponent of this citrusy fruit. Yes, you read that correctly, caraway ‘seed’ is rather erroneously named and is probably named in such a way as to avoid confusion due to its size and shape. For those of you who didn’t know, and shame on you for not doing so, caraway has a taste somewhere between that of anise and the tang of citrus zest. It is best known for the part it plays in the cake which lies, in a rather sultry manner, before your very eyes. To me, it is clear to see why it became so popular, though it is rather difficult to get to the bottom of why it has dropped off the culinary radar.
Caraway seed cake appears to have gone drastically out of fashion. This may be simple conjecture, but the reason for such a travesty seems to be that it is no longer in vogue to profess a desire for such a simple and innocently flavoured cake. Indeed, there is no possible reason why lavishly iced and decadently flavoured cakes attract so much attention, to the detriment of those that are more honestly pretty. It is rather difficult to believe that anything could be more attractive than the thin crust which borders the inestimably light sponge of this classic British teatime treat.
My apologies for being so acerbic, but these things have to be said from time to time. Such scrawlings should probably be deleted. Though, I am far too tired and rather too proud of what has been said to consign it to the dreaded ‘recycle bin’. Please enjoy this cake for what it is; a simple, British delicacy. It goes without saying that there is simply no room for your chocolate chips here, America. I jest, honestly I do.
Classic Caraway Seed Cake
Makes 1 small loaf
• 110g butter, though margarine would be far better
• 110g caster sugar, granulated will be fine
• 2 eggs
• 140g self-raising flour
• 50g ground almonds, these are absolutely necessary
• Enough milk to give the cake a good dropping consistency (1-3 tbsp)
• 2 tsp caraway seeds, be generous
1. Grease and line a standard sized loaf tin. Heat the oven to 160C. Cream together the butter and the sugar until extremely light and fluffy. Crack in the eggs, one by one, mixing thoroughly between the two. Stir in the ground almonds and the caraway seeds before sifting in the flour. Do this from a decent height; this will trap in as much air as possible thus ensuring a good rise. Fold in the flour until just mixed, one will need to add a little milk to get it to the right consistency. Scrape into the loaf tin, level off and bake for around an hour.
2. The cake will be ready when it makes no sound when listened to. If it is crackling, it is not ready. Leave to cool for a few minutes before turning out and allowing it to return to room temperature. Enjoy with a delicious cup of tea or coffee.
Cost: How could such a simple cake cost anything at all? Well, I’m afraid it does, though very little indeed. The entire sponge, excluding the possibility of liquid refreshment, should set one back no more than around £1.10. Now, that’s not too steep for an absolute classic, is it?