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In an exchange about the uses of caraway seeds sneff said: node it for sure! even if it was horrible (I bet it isnt)...it is important for culinary anthropology...

Once upon a childhood, I used to read comics such as Beano and Dandy. The mischievous characters in the strip cartoons were always up to no good, but could be enticed home or bribed with the promise of a slice of seed cake.

It must be something truly delicious, I thought, to have such an effect on my comic book heroes! So I asked my grandmother, who was the one person who would surely know.

My grandmother was the embodiment of culinary know-how. She had never owned a cookery book, and she never weighed any of her ingredients, but she could be relied upon to know how to cook something, and it would always turn out to be delicious.

I have to admit she warned me that I might be disappointed, but nevertheless she set to immediately, mixing, stirring, baking. The kitchen filled with steam and cooking smells, and some time later the seed cake sat cooling on a tray.

Sadly, her prediction was correct - I was supremely disappointed. The tantalizing smell of the warm and wonderful piece of cake turned out to be something which tasted unusual, if not downright horrible, to my uneducated palate! The cake was moist and buttery but the caraway seeds added an almost medicinal quality to the flavour which was definitely not to my likeing.

That was my first, and last, taste of seed cake. It was obviously well liked by many, because no self respecting cookery book from that era was without a recipe for making it. My grandmother's recipe (which was all about 'feel' rather than specific quantities) died with her, but I found the following in an old book on my shelf.

So here goes, try it if you dare - you might like it* ;)


6 ounces butter
6 ounces caster sugar
3 large eggs
8 ounces flour
a little milk ( about 2 tbsp)
1 tablespoon caraway seeds


  • Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  • Beat the eggs and add a little at a time to the creamed mixture, until encorporated
  • Fold in the seived flour, the seeds and milk (to give a dropping consistency)
  • Put in a greased 7 inch round cake tin
  • Bake in the oven, Gas mark 3, 325°F or 170°C for about 1½ hours. Test by inserting a skewer - if it comes out clean, the cake is ready.
  • Cool on a wire tray

Marguerite Patten's Every Day Cook Book

* Ouroboros says: I made the seed cake saturday afternoon. faboo! I took it to a party and it was very well received... I thought it a great recipe, no medicinal taste at all. maybe even the basis for biscotti.

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