The use of caraway seeds to flavour biscuits and cake in Britain go back as far as the 1500s and caraway seed cake remained a popular tea cake until the first half of the 20th Century, assumedly because new and exotic flavourings were becoming more readily available.
This quickly prepared tea cake, published in the 11th Edition of The National Training School of Cookery's book of 'High-Class Cookery Recipes' (1909), is as refreshing as it is sweet. The caraway seeds add a delicate anise-like flavour that balances out an otherwise exceptionally buttery plain sponge.
Having tried and tested this recipe, we are convinced that the solid, traditional caraway seed cake is incredibly delicious and due a mainstream comeback.
Original Recipe: 'Carraway Seed Cake' (Book 2, 1909)
Speed: 1 hr 45 mins | Serves: 12
453g plain flour
266g butter, room temperature
266g caster sugar
1 heaped tsp. baking powder
14g caraway seeds
5 eggs (we used large eggs)
A little milk, if needed
1. Pre-heat oven to 180 °C (356 °F / Gas Mark 4).
2. Butter a 1lb loaf tin or 10-12 inch round cake tin and coat with baking paper.
Note: As is often the case with older cookbooks (particularly those written before c.1960), a preferred tin type and size has not been specified in the original recipe. We used a slightly smaller loaf tin than listed above, resulting in left over cake mix. The remaining mixture was added to 8 medium sized muffin cases and baked for 15 minutes.
3. Cream the butter and flour together until fully combined. This is easiest achieved using a stand mixer.
4. Add all other dry ingredients to the butter and flour and mix in.
5. Whip up the eggs in a separate bowl and then add these to the rest of the cake mix. Once again, mix in until fully combined.
6. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin, making sure to leave a gap of at least 1 inch between the top of the cake and the edge of the tin.
7. Bake for 50-55 minutes and then remove from the oven.
Note: We also drizzled a combination of 75g golden caster sugar and the juice of 1 lemon over the top as the cake cooled to form a crunchy sugary topping as you would for a lemon drizzle cake.
Original Recipe for 'Carraway Seed Cake'
'BOOK 2': High-Class Cookery Recipes for the National Training School of Cookery, 11th Edition (1909)
Author: Mrs Charles Clarke, Principal of the National Training School of Cookery
Publisher: William Clowes & Sons Limited (23 Cockspur Street, S.W. London, England, U.K.)