#62 Mrs Sleightholme’s Seed Cake

Seed cake, it seems, goes way way way back. Jane mentions books from the 1700 with several recipes. A classic English cake if ever there was one; except I’ve never heard of it. In fact there’s two seed cake recipes in English Food itself. The seeds are provided in the form of caraway, a most English of spices. The cake itself is an unusual one – half way between a traditional recipe, where you cream butter and sugar and a sabayon, where eggs are whisked up until thick and frothy.

To make the cake, cream 6 ounces each of butter and sugar and stir in a rounded dessertspoon of caraway seeds. Separate three eggs and whisk the whites until stiff, but still creamy. Beat the yolks and carefully fold these into the whites with a metal spoon, then fold the eggs into the creamed butter. Next, stir in a tablespoon of ground almonds and eight ounces of sifted self-raising flour. I find it easier to mix the flour in three or four stages to avoid getting a lumpy batter. The mixture should be slack enough to ‘fall off the spoon when you shake it with a firm flick of the wrist’, and we must do as we are told. If too thick, add a little milk; a tablespoon or two should do it.

Pour the mixture into a lined 9 inch loaf tin and smooth it down with the back of a spoon. Decorate with blanched, slivered almonds if you fancy. Bake for up to an hour (but check on it with a larding needle as it may be less) at 180 degrees Celsius. Let the cake cook for 15 minutes before taking out of the tin to cool on a wire rack.

FYI: In Henry IV Part II, Falstaff is invited by Shallow to have a snack on some of ‘last year’s pippin [apples] of mine own graffing, with a dish of caraways’. So if Mr. Shakespeare liked them, they can’t be bad.

FYI 2: Mrs Dorothy Sleightholme was a cook on Yorkshire Television. Growing up in Yorkshire and being an avid telly watcher naturally means I have no recollection of her whatsoever.

# 62 Mrs Sleightholme’s Seed Cake: 4/10. A low scorer, though not foul tasting. It was like a dry Madeira cake. It certainly needed tea to go with it as it was on the claggy side. The caraway seeds save it to some degree. There is, of course, the slightest chance that I over baked it, but I find that very hard to believe…

6 thoughts on “#62 Mrs Sleightholme’s Seed Cake

  1. I think immediate eating is a key component with this one, I had a next-day slice and it was a bit brick-ush by then, though good with a brew still. The little aniseed-ish tang from the seeds is good but they are few and far between in the mix, even when you have a massive mouth like what I do. Same score for me. I like the Shakespeare ref though bear in mind what a greedy git Flstaff was, he\’d eat anything.


  2. I didn\’t realise we were scoring. I thought this looked promising in the flesh but (and remember from previous comment that I had a hangover and therefore tastebuds were probably void for the day)found it to be rather dry and more than a little bland (sorry). Whether or not this is the point, you needed the tea in order to stop having to chew (think eating dry crackers). I am not of the opinion that it was overcooked, it looked perfect; I think it merely needed a \’moist maker\’ such as jam or cream, or jam and cream… maybe lemon drizzle. I would award this a slighlty disappointing 3/10.


  3. You\’re right Lee. it\’s the most disappointing recipe so far. Though it was edible – I\’m saving my very low scores for the probably vile tongue and mushroom crumbled etc.!


  4. I loved this cakey creation, which is a rarity for me as I have no sweet tooth. If its not a pie or got gravy on it I\’m generally not interested. So well done. Loved the seeds in it. Id stick a few more in next time. Perfect with a pot of Grandma strength yorkshire tea. Smashing!


  5. Mmm, I thought this was good esp with tea. I\’m a big fan of cakes with seeds and it was good. Not too sweet and not too crumbly. Agree with JB that more seeds would be good. I\’d give it a 6


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