Traditional seed cake recipe
I didn’t grow up with seed cake but love the lemony aniseed notes of caraway. If you’re keen on dark rye breads – often flavoured with caraway – you’ll like this too. I first had seed cake at St. John in London, served with a glass of Madeira (a fine pairing). Recipes for it appeared from the late 1500s but it really became popular in the Victorian age.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
120g butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the tin
120g caster sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten, at room temperature
170g self-raising flour, sifted
finely grated zest of ½ lemon
1½ tsp caraway seeds
50g ground almonds
2-4 tbsp whole milk
icing sugar, for dusting (optional)
1. Butter a loaf tin (the one I use measures 20cm x 9cm x 7cm) and line it with greaseproof paper so the paper hangs over the long sides. Butter the paper as well. Heat the oven to 170C/160C fan/gas mark 3½.
2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Very gradually add the egg a bit at a time, making sure you beat well before adding the next lot. If it looks as though the mixture might curdle, add a couple of tablespoons of the flour and beat slowly. When the eggs have been incorporated, add the lemon zest and caraway seeds.
3. Fold in the flour and almonds. Add the milk (however much it takes to get the batter to drop, reluctantly, from a spoon). Scrape this into the prepared tin.
4. Bake for 50 minutes then test for doneness – a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake should come out clean. If it’s not ready, put the cake back in the oven for four minutes, then test again. Be careful not to over-bake.
5. You can leave the cake plain, or dust some icing sugar on top. It keeps well, in an airtight container, for three days.