Classic Caraway Seed Cake

Caraway Seed Cake

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?

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85 comments on “Classic Caraway Seed Cake

  1. Deborah DeLong
    April 19, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    This looks so good! And the pictures are beautiful.

  2. theglobalgarnishgeek
    April 19, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    If a food photo is intended to capture your interest and inspire you to make and eat the item, yours had done just that. I will be making this soon.

    • frugalfeeding
      April 19, 2012 at 9:41 pm

      Oh yes, it certainly is :). I’m glad you like the look of it.

  3. thekalechronicles
    April 19, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    Are those almonds to be blanched before they are ground? I have never made this cake, but Charles (of Five Euro Food) mentioned it recently and I am working up my courage to give it a try. Caraway mostly finds itself into savory rye breads on this side of the pond.

    • frugalfeeding
      April 19, 2012 at 9:40 pm

      I have no idea – they come as they are. They are very light, so perhaps they are… Please give it a try, Sharyn – I know you’d love it.

  4. Hallie @ everyday spectechols
    April 19, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    This looks great! I love caraway! Although I may have to throw in some dreaded chocolate chips just to spite you haha

  5. Inge
    April 19, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    That looks delicious. I might try it one day. Thanks for your recipe. 🙂

  6. Shira
    April 19, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Caraway…..I try to love it! Really I do! Maybe this recipe will make that happen..always love your thoughts on food, Nick, really! Don’t change a thing!

  7. thesinglegourmetandtraveller
    April 19, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    I like this kind of simple cake and using caraway sounds delicious. I remember when I first went to Italy many years ago it was quite hard to find bread without caraway where we were staying … I don’t think that’s true now but yes, caraway is great in bread too.

    • frugalfeeding
      April 19, 2012 at 9:38 pm

      Thanks! I’ve been recently and I didn’t see any bread with caraway I don’t think. Anyway, it needs to be used more often.

  8. lightlycrunchy
    April 19, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    I love simple food. There is always a better chance that I will make it if it’s not elaborate. Simple flavours and simply presented. Looks great.

  9. tanyamhudson
    April 19, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    This looks delicious! And, though I’m a born-and-raised American, I think I’d prefer this cake to most of the sugar bombs in our bakeries here. 🙂

    Just curious–why margarine over butter?

    • frugalfeeding
      April 19, 2012 at 9:37 pm

      Thanks, Tanya. I think you would :). Margarine tends to produce a lighter sponge, I find.

      • tanyamhudson
        April 19, 2012 at 11:13 pm

        Good to know. I rarely buy margarine since I like the one-ingredient-ness of butter, but perhaps if I try this recipe, I will….

  10. Lucy
    April 19, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    That’s some very tasty looking cake – nice photos to boot 😛

  11. An Unrefined Vegan
    April 19, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    Caraway means rye bread to me; never thought using it in a sweet recipe. Shame on me ;-)! Definitely worth trying!

  12. Brianne
    April 19, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    Caraway seeds in rye bread or soda bread are a must! My boyfriend kind of failed at making soda bread for St. Patrick’s Day this year and it turned into a cake very similar to your recipe. It was so good, and we are probably going to make soda bread cake every year from now on.

    • frugalfeeding
      April 19, 2012 at 9:36 pm

      I’ll have to try it! That must have been quite the fail! Sounds like a nice fail though.

  13. Choc Chip Uru
    April 19, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    This bread seems wonderfully simple in flavour and a perfect snacking recipe 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

    • frugalfeeding
      April 19, 2012 at 9:36 pm

      Oh yes, it was definitely perfect for snacking on.

  14. Sacha
    April 19, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    I love Caraway! The loaf would definitely go beautifully with tea. I’d also like to know why margarine would be better.

    • frugalfeeding
      April 19, 2012 at 9:35 pm

      Me too! I’m glad there’s another. Margarine, of a good quality, doesn’t detract too much from any flavour and makes a much lighter cake.

  15. homemadeadventure
    April 19, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    I love simple cakes that aren’t too sweet! This looks amaizng!

    • frugalfeeding
      April 19, 2012 at 9:34 pm

      Thanks! I don’t like overly sweet things either.

  16. Conor Bofin
    April 19, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    Excellent. I am all in favour of the simpler cake. I love a slice or three (with butter) and a cup of tea. A pleasure denied me of late as the Wife is not in baking mood. Looks like I will have to borrow your recipe and do it myself between bouts of meat.

  17. Juls
    April 19, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    In my experience, the best cakes are often the simplest and I totally agree with you about caraway! Britain doesn’t seem to heavily embrace anything that tastes too aniseedy which is sad.

    • frugalfeeding
      April 19, 2012 at 10:10 pm

      They are! Well, it was very heavily embraced here a while ago. I don’t like aniseed, so these can’t taste too much of it 🙂

  18. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial
    April 19, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    I love caraway seeds, although I tend to use them more in middle eastern dishes like harissa and mohgrabieh than in sweet cakes. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • frugalfeeding
      April 19, 2012 at 10:44 pm

      That’s a good idea too, Celia. No problem 😀

  19. Sarah
    April 19, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    Is this what they are talking about in books set in Britain in the 1800’s when they mention seed cake? Looks delicious, and I am not that fond of caraway. 🙂

    • frugalfeeding
      April 25, 2012 at 11:48 pm

      It is indeed – my grandfather refers to it as seed cake.

  20. Just A Smidgen
    April 19, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    The poor caraway seed… Not maligned but forgotten in our packed spice shelves! I think it’s time for me to purchase a fresh container of seeds so I can make this lovely cake. I’m starting to prefer a subtler sort of sweet cake these days and this is just the ticket!

    • frugalfeeding
      April 25, 2012 at 11:47 pm

      I know! I feel so much for it. Do it, Smidge.

  21. accordingtocarey
    April 19, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    I absolutely love caraway! Thank you for a recipe I can use them in!

  22. Meredith
    April 20, 2012 at 12:11 am

    but how can it be a fruit? is it the seed found inside a fruit?

    • frugalfeeding
      April 25, 2012 at 11:46 pm

      No, the seed is the fruit – it has seeds inside it. What is depicted is the fruit, like an apple or an orange.

  23. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide
    April 20, 2012 at 12:12 am

    You make some great cakes. This isn’t a traditional cake here, but even if it was I can’t imagine people pooh poohing it.

    • frugalfeeding
      April 25, 2012 at 11:46 pm

      Thanks, Greg. Perhaps you ought to buck the trend.

  24. Catherine
    April 20, 2012 at 12:24 am

    Something tells me that this is ‘seedy cake’ as mentioned by the likes of E. Nesbit in her children’s books. It looks lovely.

    But I am really interested in why you say that margarine would be better than butter in this cake – would you elaborate?


    • frugalfeeding
      April 25, 2012 at 11:45 pm

      It is indeed! It’s better because it makes a far lighter cake.

  25. Chica Andaluza
    April 20, 2012 at 11:36 am

    I love cakes like this – proper baking, as my granny used to say! Really enjoy the taste of caraway, although I haven´t had it for ages, and I didn´t realise it was classified as a fruit – how interesting.

    • frugalfeeding
      April 25, 2012 at 11:44 pm

      Oh yes, proper baking indeed! I found it very interesting too. It’s good to learn 😀

  26. Cara
    April 20, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    You use way too many big words. Acerbic? Where is my dictionary? 🙂
    This cake is BEAUTIFUL! Out of fashion? I don’t think caraway seed cake ever came into fashion over here but I’m going to bring back (or start it up, really). Don’t worry–I will give you the credit 🙂

    • frugalfeeding
      April 25, 2012 at 11:43 pm

      Haha – I do apologise for my MASSIVE BRAIN. Haha – do try, do try! Thanks, Cara.

      • Cara
        April 26, 2012 at 6:44 am

        You should actually apoloGIZE for your misspelling of the word…

  27. Korena in the Kitchen
    April 20, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    I’ve only ever had caraway seeds in rye bread, and I have to admit I’m not a big fan… but this cake looks pretty darn good! I like the instructions of “listening” for it to be done. Also, caraway seeds are a fruit?! They say you learn something new everyday – I certainly wasn’t expecting to learn that!

    • frugalfeeding
      April 25, 2012 at 11:42 pm

      Oh no! Oh well, not everyone can like everything! Listening is the perfect method – I promise you. They are indeed! Just very small. not sure they count as part of your one a day…

  28. Anastasia
    April 20, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    My mom just saw your photos, now all I hear is “Can you make that? Can you make that?”

  29. kitchentraveller
    April 21, 2012 at 12:01 am

    I have a recipe for caraway seed cake in my old folder of recipe clippings and it is absolutely a favorite. Spot-on about the necessity of ground almonds too. And I have never, ever, met anyone else who makes it!

    • frugalfeeding
      April 25, 2012 at 11:40 pm

      Thanks! Really? It really has gone out of fashion!

  30. jobakes
    April 23, 2012 at 7:01 am

    That’s a perfect example of a loaf cake is it not Frugal? Great crust, close crumb, well risen with a beautiful mellow yellow sunny hue to it. Me likey!

    • frugalfeeding
      April 25, 2012 at 11:12 pm

      I thought so, but I didn’t like to say! Thanks, Jo.

  31. cakeboule
    April 23, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    Caraway seeds? Ok stop giving me new ideas already!

  32. Hepzibah
    April 25, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Nom! That looks seriously tasty. I keep a big jar of caraway seeds in my kitchen – when we had windy tummies as kids my Mum would dose us with a big pinch of caraway seeds. Really does work! Reason why people put it in cabbage recipes too… Definitely have to try this.

    • frugalfeeding
      April 25, 2012 at 11:55 pm

      Thanks! It was :D. Ahha, natural remedy, thanks for the info!

  33. The Ultimate Lifestyle Blog
    April 25, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    This looks so yummmy

  34. debbrunson
    April 30, 2012 at 12:19 am

    Caraway seeds are lovely, and I solemnly swear to never add chocolate chips to this perfectly simple cake. And I’m not jesting 🙂 Thanks for the recipe and inspiration.

    • frugalfeeding
      May 1, 2012 at 10:50 pm

      Good! Please don’t! Thanks for the comment 🙂

  35. Jennifer
    March 28, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    I’ve been making seed cake for years and absolutely love it. I it’s sad that most people who I make it for have never heard of it. It is brilliant to find others who make it. I have to be say that your picture looks delectable.

  36. Kathryn Walker
    May 13, 2016 at 3:46 am

    Delicious – This cake is just as I remember my Grandma’s ‘seed cake’ but unfortunately she can’t remmber how to make it any more and no recipie to be found. The photo enticed me to your page from google images and the result is perfect (even my Dad agreed it is just like his Mum use to make it). Thank you!

  37. Robin
    December 16, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    I too was a Welsh boy (but 72 now), who always looked for this wonderful tea time treat. Now – at long last – I am going back to it again. It is sad that most people have never even heard of it these days. Even my wife is a little suspicious, but I told her it is delicious beyond belief.
    Thanks for the recipe!

  38. Jamie
    June 24, 2018 at 4:19 am

    Being fiercely British, but living in Australia, I’m a big fan of these types of cakes which, sadly, have gone out of fashion in favour of mass-produced, sugar-filled rubbish. There is nothing to compare at tea-time to a decent cup of tea and a piece of pound cake, madeira, seed cake, etc. This looked delightful and so I’ve just made it following the recipe exactly (this is not one to mess around or experiment with!) It’s currently cooling on a rack and it looks lovely. There were a few stray bits around the edges which I’ve just tasted and it’s perfect! Ridiculously easy to make and foolproof, it’s an absolute mystery to me why these are not more widely known and available. No doubt they’ll be ‘rediscovered’ at some point in the future and reimagined or reinvented with some hip twist added but a classic is a classic for a reason in my humble, and very old-fashioned, opinion. This one’s going in my book, nice work and thanks!

  39. Aisha Salmon
    August 15, 2018 at 11:01 am

    Made with gluten free flour – a lovely fluffy, moist cake. Thank you!

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