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Old 08-28-2008, 05:35 AM   #1
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Hobbit-food: Seed cake

Hello all! I'm new to the forums and to baking in general, and I'm hoping that y'all can help me with a problem.

So I'm a hungry nerd and while listening to The Hobbit on audio, I became curious about this "seed cake" that kept coming up, so I pulled out my trusty internet. Sure enough, I found a recipe for seed cake and set about forthwith. The recipe is taken from godecookery.com:

Modern Recipe:
  • 1 ½ cups unbleached flour
  • 1 cup cracked wheat flour
  • 1 pkg. yeast
  • 1/8 cup warm (100 degrees) ale
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 4 oz. (1 stick) sweet butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tbs. seed (crushed anise, caraway, coriander, cardamom, etc. - choose something flavorful & pleasant)
  • ½ - 1 cup milk
Sift together the flours and salt; set aside in large bowl. Dissolve yeast in warm ale, along with 1/8 tsp. of the flour mixture. Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and seeds. Make a well in the flour and add the dissolved yeast. Fold flour into yeast mixture, then fold in the butter. Slowly beat in enough milk to make a smooth, thick batter. Pour batter into an 8" round greased cake pan. Bake in middle of oven at 350° F for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool slightly before turning onto a cake rack.

So I tried it. Now, I called and searched a fair number of supermarkets here in Austin, and none of them carried cracked wheat flour. Instead, I used whole wheat flour. Also, the recipe calls for sweet butter, not specifying whether it be salted or unsalted, so I opted for unsalted. I will admit that during the first try, I accidentally skipped over adding the 1/8 tsp. of salt and also forgot the 1/8 tsp. of the flour mixture in the dissolved yeast. The first attempt came out looking very dense and mealy inside, although the exterior looked convincingly scrumptious, if broken. Also, I didn't have cake pan so I used a Pyrex bowl.

Second try, I invested in some better bakeware and proceeded to remedy my previous omissions. This time I had the cake pan, and dutifully added the 1/8 tsps. of salt and flour respectively. Well, it didn't turn out much better than the first, although this one looked even more delicious than the one before.

Where did I go wrong? Or is it just an awful recipe and I don't know it because I'm a complete baking n00b?

I appreciate any and all feedback! Thanks!

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Old 08-10-2009, 09:05 PM   #2
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Seed cake recipe

In 1949, Pillsbury Mills, Inc. held the "Grand National Recipe and Baking Contest" to mark the company's 80th birthday. The response was overwhelming, and the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest became an annual event, later switching to every two years. The following was a winner in 1954.

Triple Seed Cake

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 75 to 80 minutes. Makes 10-inch tube cake.

Sift together 3 cups sifted Pillsbury’s Best Enriched Flour, 2 ½ teaspoons double acting baking powder, ¾ teaspoon nutmeg and 1 teaspoon salt.

Blend together 2/3 cup Crisco and 2 cups sugar, creaming well.

Add 4 unbeaten eggs, one at a time. Beat 1 minute after each.

Blend in 2 tablespoons grated orange rind and 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind; mix thoroughly.

Measure 1 cup milk; add alternately with the dry ingredients to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Blend thoroughly after each addition. (With electric mixer use low speed.)

Spread one-fourth of batter in 10-inch tube pan, well greased and lightly floured on bottom only. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon caraway seeds. Alternate remaining batter with 1 tablespoon poppy seed and 1 tablespoon aniseed, ending with batter on top.

Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees F) 75 to 80 minutes. Let cool in pan 15 minutes before turning out. Frost while slightly warm.

Fruit Juice Glaze: Combine 1 ¼ cups sifted confectioners’ sugar, 2 tablespoons orange juice and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Beat until well blended.
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Old 08-13-2009, 10:57 AM   #3
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This is a Mrs Beeton recipe for Seed Cake. Goes back to 19th Century England.

And this is who Mrs Beeton is for those unaware...
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Old 08-13-2009, 11:21 AM   #4
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By using baking powder, one is getting a quicker rise. By using yeast, and not having time to let rise, I would imagine that it would turn out dense.
That is an interesting source, Gode Cookery, I used it in school last year to develop recipes for a middle ages banquet (hypothetical, but actual tried a couple). I made spicy meat pies and wine/honey-poached pears.
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Old 08-13-2009, 11:51 AM   #5
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Perfect for 2nd breakfast!
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Old 08-13-2009, 12:36 PM   #6
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Mrs. Beeton!!! That is so cool!

Even in the 1850's she knew not to boil broccoli until it was miserable.

Boiled Broccoli - Mrs Beeton Revisited from The Foody

Who taught my Mom to ruin veggies?
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Old 08-13-2009, 01:13 PM   #7
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You may also be interested in these versions of seed cake. Vintage Recipes.

As to the over cooked broccoli, probably the same person who taught my mum! I refuse to boil vegetables except for soup!
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