Baked Into My Memory

20 Feb

Last Friday at 10:00 a.m., I sent my son to the basement for a beer.  All in the name of Classic Literature, of course.

No, I’m not running a Fagin-style home for wayward boys, in fact this was a Jane Eyre project, and yet another in our fantastically popular line of blog posts about Classic Recipes.

Remember those sparknote quizes on the books that we’ve mentioned before?  Sometimes the questions are, how shall I say, um, irrelevant.  Such as this one from the Jane Eyre quiz:

13. What does the kind teacher give Jane and Helen to eat?
(A) Bundt cake
(B) Strawberries
(C) Cookies
(D) Seed cake

Unless Brontë is using some motif unbeknownst to this reader, the type of food Miss Temple gives them is not important.  At all.  By the way, it’s seed cake, in case you didn’t know either.

You’re right, I’m just bitter because I missed the question, but that is not the point.

Okay, so it is the point.  But let’s take that point and run with it, shall we?  In order to make sure that I never, ever, ever forget the importance of seed cake I decided to bake one.

I used this recipe based on recipes from the 16th-17th centuries.  It also claims that a similar cake is mentioned by Chaucer in Canterbury Tales, so I guess I can make another one in 22 years when we get to that part of our reading list.

Before we proceed, it’s important for you to know that no birds were starved in the making of this cake.  A yeast or two might have given their life, though.  But I can’t imagine that drowning in a vat of warm ale is a horrid way to go.

The seed in question for the seed cake was up to me.  The recipe suggests anise, caraway, coriander, cardamom or anything flavorful and pleasant.  That last adjective seemed important, so I went with anise.  Because not only do I think anise is pleasant, I also had some on hand, I couldn’t say as much for the other seeds.

My errand boy appreciated the smell of the beer/yeast combo (although there is no reason to worry, he imbibed none of the ingredients), but had a less favorable opinion of the licoricish batter.

The whole thing popped in the oven, and then popped out, that is if really shallow, dense, cakes can pop.

In order to dress it up a bit for my dear friends, I found a font that someone, somewhere decided to call Gothic, printed out some letters,

then I did the only thing I know to do to a somewhat questionable dessert:  I added sugar.

I made a big mess of it all by trying to be fancy with my left hand while my right hand held a crying baby.  Someday I’ll learn, or the kids will grow up, one or the other.

The end result didn’t taste as weird as a feared.  It was dense, but fairly moist, and if you don’t mind the distinct flavor of anise then it seemed perfectly “pleasant.”

But I probably won’t be making it again any time soon.  In fact, next time I’ll just pretend the answer is C and pick up some Oreos for our get together.


Posted by on February 20, 2012 in Jane Eyre


Tags: , , , , ,

6 responses to “Baked Into My Memory

  1. Adriana

    February 20, 2012 at 11:05 am

    I once baked a squash recipe for Thanksgiving which was supposed to be just like what the Pilgrims would have enjoyed. My whole family passed right over it for “Baked Canned Yams with Marshmallow Topping” ! I had to force my kids to try a bite. Maybe next year I can serve it with seed cake! (which doesn’t look bad, by the way:)

  2. Christina

    February 21, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    It wasn’t too shabby, and the children ate it. I’m sure they too would go for the marshmallowed yams, though. And they wouldn’t even touch the gruel I made for Oliver Twist. But I didn’t force the issue, it was truly disgusting.

  3. Adriana @ Classical Quest

    February 21, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    Oh my goodness — you actually made gruel!
    I always say to my kids, “The good news is: it’s not cold gruel.” whenever they start to complain about what I’m serving. I don’t know if dear Oliver had to eat it cold or not but doesn’t “cold gruel” sound just awful?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: