Caraway seed cake

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • For

    6-8

    people

Appears in

Oats in the North, Wheat from the South: The history of British Baking, savoury and sweet

Oats in the North, Wheat from the South

By Regula Ysewijn

Published 2020

  • About

Caraway seed was a very popular addition to British baking in the past. Nowadays, however, it is a taste we usually associate with Scandinavia. Around 1900, May Byron gave regional recipes for seed cakes from Gloucestershire, Cheshire, Kent, Yorkshire and Ireland, but we know from other books that seed cake was also very popular in Cornwall. Old recipes also say to add caraway comfits. These are caraway seeds that have been given a white sugar coating, a tedious task that took hours over an open fire, applying coat by coat to tiny seeds. Caraway comfits can be compared to Indian mukhwas, the difference being that they use fennel seeds and add a coloured sugar coating rather than white. The different colours of the mukhwas add a nice touch to the cake. I usually use a combination of mukhwas and caraway seeds, but you can easily just use seeds and have an equally nice cake. You can also replace the caraway seeds with crushed cardamom seeds.

Ingredients

  • 200 g (7 oz) butter, at room temperature
  • 200 g (7 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 250 g (9 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 tbsp caraway seeds and/or 2 tbsp mukhwas
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • butter, for greasing
  • flour, for dusting

Method

For a loaf tin (500 g/1 lb 2 oz)

Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F) and prepare the loaf tin.

Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and make sure that each egg is completely incorporated before adding the next one. Add a teaspoon of the flour with the last egg to prevent the mixture from separating.

Stir the caraway seed and mukhwas (if using) into the batter and fold in the remaining flour and the baking powder so that the volume is retained. Spoon the batter into the cake tin and smooth out the top. Place in the middle of the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes.

Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin and let cool on a rack.