Seed Cake was a favourite in Victorian times, but is not something we see very often these days and it is worth reviving. The seeds are caraway seeds and care must be taken with the amount that is added, as they can be a little too pungent if too many are in the mixture. Used well they give a light flavour of anise.

Some recipes also include ground mace and grated nutmeg, while others have ground almonds and even brandy. This twist on an old favourite has lemon zest in the cake and is covered with a light lemon icing. Don’t make the icing too lemony or you will lose the delicate flavour of the cake. The ground almonds keep it moist and the seeds and spices give it a delicate flavour. The cake can be cooked in a round tin, but I prefer it in a loaf tin.

Lemon-scented Seed Cake



Caster sugar170g

Eggs, beaten3

Grated zest of 1 lemon

Self-raising flour200g

Ground mace½tsp

Freshly grated nutmeg½tsp

Ground almonds50g

Caraway seeds2tsp

Milk1½ tbsp

For the icing:

Icing sugar, sieved150g

Finely grated zest and some of the juice of 1 lemon

Boiling water


1. Grease a 900g/2lb loaf tin and line the base with a disc of greased greaseproof paper.

2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs gradually, beating well after each addition. Add a little of the flour if necessary, to prevent the mixture from curdling.

3. Sift together the remaining flour, mace and nutmeg and fold into the cake mixture, using a large metal spoon. Add the ground almonds, caraway seeds and milk. Tip the mixture into the prepared cake tin and spread out evenly.

4. Bake in the centre of a 180C oven for about 45 minutes or until the sides of the cake start to shrink away from the tin and the top springs back when pressed lightly with a fingertip.

5. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out and leave to cool completely.

6. Make the icing by mixing 2 teaspoons of the lemon juice and zest into the icing sugar with a little boiling water to make a thick icing. Once the cake is cold, pour over the icing.