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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

Ingredients:

• 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

Method:

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?

87 replies on “Classic Caraway Seed Cake”

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.
Best,
Conor

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.

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!

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?

Catherine

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.

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 🙂

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!

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.

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.

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!

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!

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!

I’m in the mood for reminiscing and what better way than trying to replicate my grandma’s seedy cake as we used to call it as young children 50+ years ago. Currently in the oven. I’ve put mine in a 2lb loaf tin as I wasn’t sure if it’s a 1lb or a 2lb. Looking forward to it later with a hot cup of tea.

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