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Old 29-05-2011, 11:58 PM posted to rec.food.historic
Arri London Arri London is offline
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Default Mrs Beeton's Common Seed-Cake



Tim W wrote:

This interesting recipe caught my eye:

http://www.mrsbeeton.com/35-chapter35.html (and scroll down) or

Common Seed-Cake
1775. INGREDIENTS - 1/2 quartern of dough, 1/4 lb. of good dripping, 6 oz.
of moist sugar, 1/2 oz. of caraway seeds, 1 egg.

Mode.-If the dough is sent in from the baker's, put it in a basin covered
with a cloth, and set it in a warm place to rise. Then with a wooden spoon
beat the dripping to a liquid; add it, with the other ingredients, to the
dough, and beat it until everything is very thoroughly mixed. Put it into a
buttered tin, and bake the cake for rather more than 2 hours.

Time.-Rather more than 2 hours.

Average cost, 8d.

Seasonable at any time.

We baked this at the weekend. It's one of several recipes she has for making
a cake from bread dough.

A 'quatern' is 4 lb of dough, so 500g flour, 350g water, salt and yeast
makes nearly 2lb, kneaded and left for a couple of hours. I didn't think I
could enjoy a cake made with rendered animal fat so sadly abandoned
authenticity and replaced the dripping with butter.


Never had a lardy cake? Butter wouldn't do for that one at all.


I would imagine hard
work to combine butter and sugar with dough by hand but easy in a mixer.


Not really. Someone who is used to working with bread dough would be
more than strong enough to deal with kneading ingredients into it. The
dough probably wasn't that stiff anyway; the egg would loosen it
further.


dough was 70% hydration and possibly a little wet once the extra ingredients
were added. It was liquid enough to pour into the tin and we left it 30mins
to rest before baking with extra seeds on top.

2hrs seems like a long time to bake a cake.After 1.5 hrs a skewer was coming
out dry so we removed the cake and detinned it to cool. The outside was
slightly overdone and the inside slightly underdone, so I guess 2hrs would
be right but you would have to reduce the temp and maybe protect the top
with foil if it was in the oven that long.


The ovens of the day weren't that easily regulated as to temperature.
The cook would have known how to control things to achieve good results.


A cake of pleasing appearance with a cracked copper crust on top. Too crusty
to cut like a cake (radially) so better in a square loaf tin. Unusual in
taste. Seed Cake must have been common enough in 1860 but you never see it
now. A nice flavour from the Caraway seeds and the crust. Not too sweet, in
fact by modern standards very low in sugar and fat (for a cake). Might well
do it again.

Tim W