01 June 2012

Bilbo Baggins Seed Cake

"But I don't mind some cake -- seed-cake, if you have any."

"Lots!"  Bilbo found himself answering, to his own surprise; and he found himself scuttling off, too, to the cellar to fill a pint beer-mug, and then to a pantry to fetch two beautiful round seed-cakes which he had baked that afternoon for his after-supper morsel.

Seed-cake, according to the Annotated version of The Hobbit, is a sweetened cake with caraway seeds.  Finding a cake with caraway was a bit of a stretch, so I had to settle for a poppy lemon cake that I found here http://www.councilofelrond.com/recipe/bilbos-poppy-seed-cake-v/

One of my favorite scenes in the book is where all the dwarves show up at Bilbo's and overwhelm him with requests for food and drink.  Hospitality among hobbits being what it is, Bilbo swallows his annoyance and tries to please all of his guests.

Seed cake always sounded the most interesting of all the foods on offer so I've been waiting years to make it (don't know why it took so long).  So here it is, seed cake from the shire.

Bilbo Baggins Seed Cake
adapted from a recipe found at The Council of Elrond

1/2 cup poppy seeds
1 cup milk
1/2 lb butter (2 sticks)
1 cup sugar (white or brown)
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat
2 Tbsp caraway seeds
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp. vanilla (I used coffee flavoring, its all I had in the cabinet!)
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
the zest of one lemon


1.  Preheat oven to 350 and butter a bundt or tube pan.

2. Heat milk and poppy seeds to a low simmer, cook for about four minutes, careful not to boil the milk.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

3.  In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar, add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. 

4.  Sift together dry ingredients in a separate bowl and carefully add butter-sugar mix alternately with the cooled milk-poppy mixture and the lemon juice, rind and vanilla until everything is just mixed enough to add to the prepped pan.

5.  Bake for 40 minutes or until a knife comes out clean when the cake is tested.  Serve with ale, coffee or milk.