The Plain Seed Cake Debacle

Leafing through recipes in Louisa Macculloch’s handwritten cookbook, it was not surprising to see a recipe for a Plain Seed Cake. Louisa Macculloch was born in London, England where seed cake remains a popular sweet. British literary classics like David Copperfield, Jane Eyre and more recently The Hobbit all mention traditional seed cake.

We did find it surprising that Mrs. Macculloch’s recipe for seed cake did not include eggs or flour. At first, we thought that there might be an error in the transcription of the handwritten copy. When we consulted the original handwritten cookbook, however, we found no mention of eggs or flour. Inspired by six months of successfully adapting Mrs. Macculloch’s recipes as written, MHHM Curator of Education and Community Engagement tested the recipe as recorded with disastrous results. As the photograph illustrates, it was a bubbly hot mess. At the moment, it remains a culinary mystery why the plain seed cake failed.

Do NOT try this at home:

Original Recipe—Plain Seed Cake

1 cup butter

2 cups sugar

1 cup sour milk

1 teaspoonful soda

1 tablespoon caraway seed

If you are looking to try a traditional English seed cake you might try:

A square baking pan with a bubbly, partly burnt batter.

Topic: Munchie Monday
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