A Seed Cake that Dorothy Wordsworth Might Have Like

This recipe has been adapted for modern kitchens and conveniences (the original recipe on which it is based has the poor cook beating the egg yolks by hand for 30 minutes to aerate). Either a stand mixer with several bowls or a hand-held mixer is especially useful, given all the whipping that this recipe requires.

1/2 lb butter, at room temperature, plus butter for greasing the pan

1/2 lb sugar

1/2 lb flour, sifter

generous pinch salt

1 oz caraway seeds

2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3 large eggs, separated

10X (confectioner’s) sugar to decorate

10-inch cake or bundt pan 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350℉. Grease the baking pan and chill in the refrigerator while wou prepare the cake batter.
  2. Beat butter with 4 oz of the sugar until light and fluffy. Set aside.
  3. Combine the flour, salt, caraway seeds, nutmeg and cinnamon, stirring throughly to distribute the spices.
  4. Whip the yolks and slowly add 2 oz of sugar to obtain a thick ribbon.
  5. Whip the whites to soft peaks and slowly ad the remaining 2 oz of sugar to form a soft meringue.
  6. Add the yolks to the whipped butter-sugar mix and beat to incorporate. Gently fold in one-third of the flour mixture, just to combine (a few bits of flour visible are OK), then gently fold in half of the egg whites, then another third of the flour, the remaining egg whites, and the last bit of flour. Do not overfold, of the cake will be tough.
  7. Scape the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the center of the over until done, about 40 – 50 minutes, depending on the pan used. Start testing with a toothpick at around 35 minutes. The top may crack a bit, but this is to be expected.
  8. Let the cake cook on a rack for about 10-15 minutes before unmolding. When cook, sift confectioner’s sugar over the top, if desired.