Victorian Seed Cake

Susan Feliciano


I read a lot of English novels, and often see Seed Cake mentioned as served at Tea. So I did some searching and came up with this recipe. The original was all in Victorian measurements, so I have changed them to modern measurements.
Seed Cake is discussed at length in Agatha Christie's novel, At Bertram's Hotel, as well as other older English novels. It is flavored with caraway seed, and has a slightly anise or licorice flavor to it. Adjust the amount of caraway seeds to suit your taste, beginning with the smaller amount if you are trying it for the first time.

pinch tips: How to Grease a Pan





15 Min


35 Min




4 large
eggs, beaten
1 c
(8 oz) butter, softened
1 1/8 c
(8 oz) fine granulated sugar
1-3 Tbsp
whole caraway seeds
1/2 tsp
ground mace
1/2 tsp
ground nutmeg
2 1/4 c
(11.5 oz) self-rising flour
3 Tbsp
2-4 Tbsp
4 Tbsp
demerara (natural raw) sugar

Directions Step-By-Step

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease two 7" or 8" round cake pans, line the bottoms with a parchment circle, and then grease the parchment.
Beat the eggs in a medium bowl with a whisk. In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until mixture is pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs a little at a time. When all the egg, sugar and butter have been mixed well, whisk in the caraway seeds, mace, and nutmeg. Then lightly add in the flour. Finally, stir in the brandy.
Add just enough milk to loosen the mixture and give the cake batter a good consistency - it should drop, not pour, off a spoon. Mine only took 2 tablespoons. Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pans. Level off the surface with a spatula or back of a spoon. Sprinkle the demerara sugar all over the tops to make a nice sweet crust.
Bake cakes in the center of the oven for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean and dry. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. The cake keeps well when wrapped tightly in foil or parchment and kept in an airtight tin. This cake is not traditionally stacked or frosted; you just have 2 round Seed Cakes that can be sliced for Tea.
NOTE: Caraway is a type of seed common to both cake and biscuit recipes of the Medieval and Tudor periods; and the English usage of the term Caraway dates back to at least A.D. 1440.

About this Recipe

Course/Dish: Cakes, Other Snacks
Main Ingredient: Flour
Regional Style: English
Other Tag: Heirloom