This recipe is part of a collection held at Warwickshire County Record Office, and is a notebook of recipes, homemade medicines and knitting patterns1. It also includes a recipe on Sherborne [Sherbourne] Vicarage, Warwick, headed paper. There were a number of factors that influenced my decision to give try this recipe; I can read the hand writing, it’s a simple recipe and it’s got caraway seeds in it. Not that I like caraway seeds, I actually really dislike the taste of caraway and anything with a similar flavour palate. But for some reason I have two spice jars of caraway seeds in the ‘Jamie Oliver’ drawer of spices and herbs at home. Anything to use them up was going to be attractive to me. I also had all the ingredients in the baking drawer and didn’t need to go on a lengthy search for something obscure.
A technical challenge
The recipe reads like a technical challenge, listing the ingredients and telling you to mix them together and bake in a tin. Like all the other recipes in these household books passed down from mother to daughter they assume a level of baking knowledge.
So I thought, I’ve baked cakes before I can take this challenge on, it should be straight forward. And mostly it was, though 1oz of caraway seeds is quite a lot – but wonderful I thought, less left in my drawer taking up space.
This is the point though I have to admit I cheated. For the Heritage Cooking Challenge I am supposed to follow the recipe and not adapt it, but after mixing the ingredients together it just wasn’t moist enough to be a cake batter. I think I should have spent more time creaming the butter and sugar together before adding the dry ingredients and the eggs. This might have been my mistake. So I admit, I cheated and added some milk to moisten the mixture and get a smoother batter.
A quick poke
I baked the cake at 160 in my oven as it’s electric and gets hot quickly and baked it for about 30mins, checking every now and then it wasn’t burning. A quick poke with a metal skewer and it was baked through. I’m told it was a lovely cake by colleagues but I really don’t like caraway and didn’t try it myself.
If I was to bake the seed cake again I’d try and get the butter and sugar creamed some more to see if there’s any need to add milk a second time.
1 lb flour, 1/3 lb butter, ½ lb sugar, 4 eggs, 1 oz caraway seeds, 1 teaspoon B.[aking] Powder. Beat the butter to a cream, stir in sugar, then eggs well beaten. Add to flour B. Rowder[?] and seeds, mix all well together, and bake in tin.
1 Warwickshire County Record Office reference CR4694/63