Mrs Beeton's Victorian Seed Cake - a Very Good Seed Cake

Total Time
2hrs 10mins
Prep 10 mins
Cook 2 hrs

Yes, this IS a very good seed cake, but that's not my title, but how this recipe is listed in Mrs Beeton's cookbook of Household Management! I love seed cake, the aniseed flavours of the caraway seeds marry so well with the light sponge and subtle spices. You can also add optional chopped candied peel as my grandmother used to - it makes the cake moister. For your interest, I have posted the recipe as it orginally appeared, at the end of the modern adaptation. Seed cake was very popular during the Victorian era, it was often taken as a "Digestive" after a heavy meal or before retiring to bed, as caraway seeds are known for their soothing and digestive qualities. You can omit the brandy if you wish, and add milk in its place.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170C/325F/gas mark 3 and grease and line a 7" (18cm) to 8" (20cm) round cake tin.
  2. Cream the butter with the sugar and then sift in the flour.
  3. Add the mace, nutmeg and caraway seeds and mix together well. (Add the chopped candied peel if using at this stage as well).
  4. Stir in the whisked eggs and the brandy.
  5. Beat the cake again for 2 to 3 minutes, until very smooth and with no lumps.
  6. Pour the mixture into a tin lined with buttered paper.
  7. Bake it for 1½ to 2 hours, until a skewer comes out clean when tested, and the cake is well risen, firm and golden brown.
  10. 1776. INGREDIENTS - 1 lb. of butter, 6 eggs, 3/4 lb. of sifted sugar, pounded mace and grated nutmeg to taste, 1 lb. of flour, 3/4 oz. of caraway seeds, 1 wineglassful of brandy.
  11. Mode - Beat the butter to a cream; dredge in the flour; add the sugar, mace, nutmeg, and caraway seeds, and mix these ingredients well together. Whisk the eggs, stir to them the brandy, and beat the cake again for 10 minutes. Put it into a tin lined with buttered paper, and bake it from 1-1/2 to 2 hours. This cake would be equally nice made with currants, and omitting the caraway seeds.
  12. Time - 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
  13. Average cost, 2s. 6d.
  14. Seasonable at any time.
Most Helpful

Oh thank you French Tart for bringing back a lot of memories. My mother (who has been dead for many years) loved seed cake and hers were similar to your first recipe. Even when she was in a home for special care I use to bring her one on special occasions. Certainly not a very well known cake out of England and Ireland.

waynejohn1234 August 25, 2012

I absolutely enjoy making these kinds of recipes & followed it right on down, even using a small amount of candied orange peel that I'd made up during the end-of-year holidays, along with apricot brandy (the only kind I had on hand)! A very nice change from frosted, sweet desserts! Thanks so much for sharing it! [Tagged, made & reviewed for the VIP player in the Vegetarian/Vegan Recipe Swap 18]

Sydney Mike January 08, 2010