Saturday, July 20, 2013

My first and probably last seed cake


If you read a lot of British novels, you've probably come across references to something called seed cake that is served when the vicar comes to tea. I'm back at the Time-Life books with a vengeance and while flipping through The Cooking of the British Isles yesterday, saw a recipe for this mysterious and enticing cake. Since it was simple to make and we had all the ingredients (flour, butter, sugar, egg, caraway seeds, baking powder), I put on my apron and 7 minutes later the cake was ready to go in the oven, which was still heating.

I've since looked at other British cookbooks to see how they handle seed cake. Jane Grigson has a version that incorporates ground almonds which she says "make all the difference." Fergus Henderson's recipe calls for more eggs and consuming the cake at 11 a.m. with a glass of Madeira, a delightful idea that would ruin the rest of my day. Leon Baking and Puddings calls its seed cake "Madeira cake" and that made me think of Nigella Lawson's recipe in Domestic Goddess for "My mother-in-law's Madeira cake." I wonder if that was her first or second mother-in-law. Poor Nigella. I looked up her recipe and it doesn't contain seeds, but she does offer a seed variation.

All this is academic, though, because for a mature American palate, seed cake has a fatal flaw: caraway seeds. I associate caraway seeds so strongly with rye bread, that I can't appreciate the flavor in a dessert. Neither could Mark. It's just too confusing. This seed cake is in no way repulsive -- it is like a dense, soft shortbread -- and I will continue to nibble at it for the next few days, but it is not something I ever need to bake again.

Speaking of novels, when I was pulling the pictures of the seed cake off my camera, I found the photos I took last week at The Mount, Edith Wharton's house in western Massachusetts. I don't think any of the furnishings were original, including that pretty cane bed, but I was interested to learn that Wharton used to do most of her writing in bed.

I, too, often write in bed. When I'm writing anywhere else (on the sofa, at a desk) the impulse to stand up and do something practical, like run the dishwasher or sweep or fold laundry, makes it dangerously easy to quit writing. But when I'm lying down, I want to stay lying down so much that I keep writing, even when the writing gets hard. It's one of the few times I can make laziness work to my advantage. Try it some time.

27 comments:

  1. Jane Eyre is my favorite book, and I love the 2006 BBC adaptation with Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens (swoon!). I've been daydreaming about a "snuggle" day -- preferably cold and raining -- during which I bake and eat seed cake while sipping tea and watching the 4-hour adaptation of Jane.

    I love caraway seeds, so now I'm curious if I'd like the seed cake. If only it would rain here in hotter-than-hell Austin, I could test it out.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I always imagined seed cake would use poppy or sesame, not caraway! Blech. I'm sure you could swap a better seed into that cake. I have always used a poppy seed cake recipe, from one of my Mollie Katzen cookbooks, which has so many poppy seeds that my chef-instructor back in culinary school thought I'd lost my mind. Every time I make it I imagine all the job applicants who will mysteriously test positive for heroin after eating my cake.

    ReplyDelete
  3. My mother always put caraway seeds in our St Patrick's Day Irish soda bread; it must be a British Isles thing to use them in sweet breads.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beth from Vermont7/28/13, 6:31 AM

      Yes! My mother, too, puts caraway seeds in her Irish soda bread and it is AMAZING! It isn't too sweet, but I could definitely eat it as a dessert...or with soup...or for breakfast

      Delete
  4. I never even thought to speculate about the type of seeds in seed cake -- or 'seedy cake' which I've seen a lot, and which makes it sound like the down-at-heels version of regular cake.

    Glad you're back to the Time-Life books, by the way.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The cake is from Nigella's first mother in law - her first husband passed away in 2001 (there's been a lot in the British media about her lately). She also offers a seed cake in 'Kitchen', which is my favourite of her cookbooks, actually - perfect for family food, if you don't have it...I do think, even for British palates, that a caraway taste in sweet things would present with a bit of a mental block. According to Darina Allen, soda bread in Ireland made with caraway seeds is also called 'seedy bread'.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The actuality is that replica rolex watches accomplish you thoroughly accurate as able-bodied as committed being throughout your activity routines.Secondly affluence artist replica watches accord a addition to rolex replica your personality,style,and charisma.Thirdly they would enhance your figures,avaricious the people's absorption above the imagination.That is why affected rolex watches accept got holistic sales today.Replica watches are a actual acceptable adulatory allowance as well.For archetype if there is a bridal commemoration of gucci replica your acquaintance again you can absolutely accord a replica watch to your admired acquaintance as a memorable adulatory allowance during his or her marriage ceremony.This agency that affairs replica will accredit you to own altered pieces befitting your apparel and occasion.Replica duke bag is what about accepted as backpack that archetype the appearance and blush of abounding big-ticket cast name handbags but they are fabricated by altered actual such as lower superior of covering and lower superior of chanel replica stitching.Replica backpack sometimes aswell alarm affected handbag,which sounds absolutely acrimonious to buyers and all of us do not ambition to buy affected handbag.Replica backpack is not consistently the affected archetypal of able-bodied accepted cast name ones,but they are addition another for humans who could not allow to by accurate big-ticket handbag.Louis Vuitton is the a lot of hublot replica accepted cast in the bazaar of artist handbag.Louis Vuitton is the kings of the brands in the appearance industry.For a lot of women,a Louis Vuitton is not just the handbag,it is the ultimate appearance account and it represents the dream appear true.Aboriginal Louis Vuitton handbags are too abundant cher and its way over replica louis vuitton your budget.The amount tags of aboriginal Louis Vuitton backpack makes you black because it is too far than your reach.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Kannur University BA Result 2016-2017
    Kannur University Hall Ticket 2016
    Kannur University Result 2016 for all course
    Kannur University Admit Card 2016
    Kannur University Hall Ticket 2017
    Kannur University Result 2017
    Kannur University Admit Card 2016
    Kannur University Entrance Date 2016
    Kannur University Degree Allotment
    Kannur University Trial Allotment 2016
    Kannur University Admission 2016
    Kannur University Onlie Admission
    Kannur University Distance Education Result 2016
    Kannur University Hall Ticket 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University BA Result 2016-2017
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Hall Ticket 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Result 2016 for all course
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Admit Card 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Hall Ticket 2017
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Result 2017
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Admit Card 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Entrance Date 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Degree Allotment
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Trial Allotment 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Admission 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Onlie Admission
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Distance Education Result 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Hall Ticket 2016
    Karnatak State Open University BA Result 2016-2017
    Karnatak State Open University Hall Ticket 2016
    Karnatak State Open University Result 2016 for all course
    Karnatak State Open University Admit Card 2016
    Karnatak State Open University Hall Ticket 2017
    Karnatak State Open University Result 2017
    Karnatak State Open University Admit Card 2016

    ReplyDelete