|Mrs. Beeton's Seed Cake. |
Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.
A Very Good Seed-Cake.
1 lb. butter [soft] 1 lb. self-rising flour
6 eggs 3/4 oz. caraway seeds
3/4 lb. sifted sugar 1 wineglass brandy [1/4 cup]
mace and nutmeg to taste [1/2 tsp. each]
Beat the butter to a cream; dredge in the flour; add the sugar, mace, nutmeg and caraway seeds, and mix these ingredients together. Whisk the eggs, stir to them the brandy, and beat the cake again for 10 minutes. Put it into a tin lined with buttered paper, and bake it from 1 1/2 to 2 hours. This cake would be equally nice made with currants, and omitting the caraway seeds.
[NOTE: When whisking/beating the eggs, beat them for several minutes by hand or machine, until they are light yellow in color, thick and foamy. This helps leaven the cake! When ready to bake, the batter should be a "dropping" consistency, or what we know as regular cake batter -- thick enough to drop from a spoon, but not thick enough to roll out like dough, or thin enough to pour from the bowl without the help of a spatula. If the batter is too thick after you've mixed the above ingredients, add a few tablespoons of milk until the texture is right. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F and bake 1 1/2 to 2 hours in a greased 8-inch cake pan lined with parchment or wax paper. You can also sprinkle brown or raw sugar on top of the cake before putting it in the oven, for a crackled sugar crust. Serves 8 to 10, unless you take thin slices.]
This recipe can be made by hand, with a wooden spoon and a large mixing bowl, but it needs to be beaten thoroughly, so an electric mixer makes it much easier! This is not the familiar soft sponge cake that we're used to these days! It is basically an old-fashioned pound cake. I made a half recipe of this cake last winter, and it produced an 8-inch round cake that was flavorful and dense, but not dry. I also used currants instead of caraway seeds because I didn't have any of the seeds. The flavor and texture lasted as long as the cake lasted. I kept the cake wrapped in plastic wrap on the counter, and ate the last piece more than a month after it was baked. It dried out a little on the outside, but the inside was still moist enough to be tasty. It was delicious with tea, coffee, apple cider, and hot chocolate, as well as toppings of whipped cream and vanilla ice cream. It is a wonderful holiday treat!