Munchie Monday: Carrie’s New Year’s Eve Cakes

Seed cake, in particular caraway seed cake, has a long tradition as a dessert in Great Britain. The recipe written in the cookbook belonging to Louisa Macculloch (1785-1863) is dated to 1849.  Interestingly, the recipe for Carrie’s New Year Cakes calls for white sugar. By the mid-1800s a process was invented to make refined sugar less expensive and cookbooks began recommending white sugar over previous options like molasses and brown sugar. In the period kitchen at MHHM, there is on exhibit a sugar cone and sugar nippers which was used to cut the sugar off of the cone.  By 1871, the sugar cone, also known as loaf sugar, was replaced by granulated sugar.  This convenience eliminated the need for women to cut and grind sugar for baking and cooking.

After researching archives of other historic sites, more and more recipes for New Year cakes were found. This connection to New Year’s Day could be due to the tradition of visiting neighbors on first day of the year and providing refreshments.


Original Recipe—Carrie’s New Year Cakes  Feb. 2d 1849. GMM

3 pounds of flour

1     “  “ butter

¾   “   “ white sugar

2 eggs

½ pint of milk

1 tea spoon full of pearlash

1  “     “     “  salt

½ “  cup “    “ caraway seed


Adapted Recipe–Carrie’s New Year Cakes

4 cups of flour

2 sticks of butter, softened

1 cup of sugar

1 egg

½ cup milk

½ teaspoon of baking soda

½ teaspoon of salt

¼ cup of caraway seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter and sugar. Add egg. In another bowl sift flour, baking soda and salt. Add half of the dry ingredients alternately with milk. Add caraway seeds. Add the remaining dry ingredients and milk. Knead dough on lightly floured surface to combine. Roll out dough ¼ inch thick. Cut with 2 inch round cookie cutter and bake for 10 minutes.  Makes 4 dozen.


For more information about 19th century baking ingredients visit:

Seed cakes were popular in the early 1820s. Find out more about seed cakes:

Recipe for “Mrs. Jackson’s New Year Cake” in the Duane Family cookbooks in the collection of The New York Historical Society:

Several small round baked cakes with speckles are piled on a white plate.

Topic: Munchie Monday
Age / Level: Elementary, Middle, High School