I’ve been lazy last week. The weather has been absolutely amazing in Helsinki, it’s been like summer, and I mean real summer. So I just wanted to give myself a good rest before a series of caterings starts this week until the end of May. I did some sports and I spent time with myself, some friends and Tolkien (I started to read The Silmarillion).
So why am I telling this? Because one of Tolkien’s most beloved characters (and one of mine as well), Bilbo Baggins apparently had some seed cake in his pantry and it was one of the things easily gone when the dwarves arrive unexpectedly. I thought, “it must be good!” but what was it exactly?
So I started to look around for recipes and the idea of a “seed cake” took me to a classical British cake, a very buttery one, with, to my surprise, caraway seeds! I wasn’t sure in the end if that was what Tolkien intended Bilbo to eat, but caraway seeds in a sweet cake definitely intrigued me so I started to work on it.
This cake is a very basic and easy one actually. The ingredients are not strange at all, flour, butter, sugar, baking powder, milk. The only interesting and sort of, different, ingredient is caraway seed. Yet, I like using caraway seeds in salty recipes so I also have it in abundance.
As I was going through different versions of this classic cake, I saw Nigel Slater’s version on an issue of The Guardian. I trust Nigel Slater of course. So he said in that article that cawaray seeds should not be in too big amounts. And yet, his suggestion was not good enough for me in the resulting cake. Butter was so strong that you couldn’t get any seed taste. So I tripled the amount of caraway seeds and that gave me a very satisfying cake!
And it is a delicious cake! Caraway seeds add an interesting twist and yet it is not an unacceptable twist. You get the taste of caraway seeds mostly after the first bite, kind of like a refreshing aftertaste. It is a must-try cake, especially to be eaten with afternoon tea!
Difficulty: ★☆☆ (Easy)
(makes 1 cake in 22x9xh:7cm loaf pan)
120 gr. butter, softened in room temperature (plus more to grease the pan)
120 gr. granulated white sugar
1 tbsp caraway seeds
160 gr. all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
50 gr. almond flour
2 tbsp milk
1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease your loaf pan and put a baking sheet to cover the bottom and sides (I only covered 2 large sides).
2. Put butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until creamy.
3. Add eggs, one by one, and beat until you get a smooth, creamy mixture. Scrape the sides using a spatula, if needed.
4. Add caraway seeds, flour, baking powder and almond flour and beat just until they are incorporated.
5. Add milk and beat until you get a smooth batter (but try not to overbeat). (Sorry for the extremely blurry photo!)
6. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Put in the oven, in medium rack and bake for about 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes after baking, and then transfer to a wire rack. Let the cake cool to room temperature before slicing and serving. Enjoy with a fresh cup of tea and think of Bilbo Baggins!