Grandma’s Cooking School: Poppy Seed Torte


{Grandma’s Cooking School is my chronicles of the informal cooking lessons that my Grandma graciously decided to give us girls. I have compiled a list of all the lessons so far. Enjoy!}


This cake is my favorite.  The batter is not too sweet, the custard filling is so rich, and the whipped cream frosting is perfect.


Here’s a tip from Grandma: soak your poppy seeds in milk overnight.



What’s the secret to this cake’s light texture? Egg whites – beaten and folded into the batter.


Grandma cut a pretty round of wax paper for the cake to rest on.

group4The custard. Oh, the custard! And the frosting. Oh my.


The finished cake. We were a little impatient and filled the cake before the custard was set. Oh well.


This is the best part: sharing our creations with Dad. He is always so happy to taste our desserts at coffee break.

When I asked Grandma if I could share the recipe for Poppy Seed Torte with you, she quietly but firmly refused. I’m sorry to tease you, but Grandma has spoken!

**Next Time on Grandma’s Cooking School: Homemade Bread & Cinnamon Rolls**

Here is the list of our lessons so far.

31 Responses to “Grandma’s Cooking School: Poppy Seed Torte”

  1. Jen says:

    Wow! That looks amazing!

    Just started following you via Twitter, through PW’s blog. Love this blog, your photos are beautiful!

  2. Maria says:

    I can see why this is a family favorite. I love the last photo of your dad.

  3. says:

    I am drooling all over myself while looking at these pictures.

  4. Oh wow that looks so good – wish I could make it! Lovely photos.

  5. This looks amazing. Poppy seeds are only in old fashioned desserts; I wonder why they’re not very popular anymore. They are delicious. I respect Grandma not wanting to share her recipe–mine was the same way! :)
    You’re so lucky to have a grandma like her!

  6. Amanda says:

    What a lovely, old-fashioned dessert! And how wonderful to have a Grandma willing to cook with you!

    I have to admit, though, that I cannot understand why someone wouldn’t be willing to share a recipe. I joke sometimes that food is my “love language” because I love to bake and cook for people so much but, all joking aside, taking the time to bake something IS a way of showing love to someone. So how could one not be willing to “share the love” by sharing a recipe? Does it stem from times past when perhaps baking was a means of housewives secretly competing with each other? Is there a fear that someone will misuse a recipe?

    I’m sorry — I don’t mean to rant! — I just (obviously) feel strongly about this. My grandmother never took the time to teach me how to make kolaches (a traditional Czech/German pastry) before she died, but I’m so grateful that another elderly woman graciously agreed to teach me. She was no relative of mine, so there was hoarding of a family secret, and that’s what made her teaching me so special. Not all of us have grandmas in the kitchen to share with us their secret recipes.

  7. Lauren says:

    As you said, Grandma has spoken! I was making up the recipe as I saw your beautiful photos – it sounds like an absolutely delightful cake :).

  8. Melanie says:

    See…Grandma knows that someday Erica will be a famous baker and cook this will be her most famous cake that people will travel for thousands of miles and pay loads of money just to taste. And all because Grandma wouldn’t share the recipe! Gotta love it!

  9. Erica Lea says:

    Oh my! Thank you all for your encouraging words. You are so kind.

    Amanda: I understand how you feel. I really love and respect my Grandmother, so I want to honor her wishes!

    Melanie: Awww, thanks Melanie! You are so sweet. :D

  10. emily s says:

    You grandma seems like such an amazing woman! My great-grandma was well known for her talent in the kitchen (her parents owned a restaurant!) and I wish that I had time to learn by her hands before she passed away… thanks for sharing Erica. I may have to make up a copycat recipe … although I’m sure it will be far under par! : ))

  11. astheroshe says:

    WOW that really looks amazing. I love seeing your grandma’s hand in the pics. So graceful and full of wisdom.

    I never had the opportunity to bake anything with either of my grandmothers. I pray i will someday be one. You are blessed.

    The torture of no recipe.. . Oh Grandma, you are killing me! :) She sounds like a “”tough cookie””; I’m sure there is something out there close in recipe..but will not have that extra grandma love in it. :)

    Thanks for sharing….

  12. Katherine says:

    Haha well, it’s a shame we can’t have a recipe, but it’s still so much fun to read these segments. The cake does look delcious, your Grandma knows her cooking/baking :)

  13. Emily says:

    Just wanted to write a quick note that I linked to your blog through foodgawker – the cake looks delicious. I wish I could make it! Also, I had so much fun reading this and your other blog – I grew up as the oldest of 6 kids in a family of 8 in rural Maine and that’s why I love cooking (and gardening) so much. I had a lot of experience cooking huge amounts of spaghetti sauce and making cookies that would disappear before I even finished cooking them!

  14. Elleny says:

    I want this recipe SOOO bad- I absoultely love poppyseed. I found the best vegan poppyseed cookies the other day at my university bookstore and I haven’t been able to find the recipe anywhere. So sad :( Looks delicious though!

  15. I unfortunately never met my grandmother but today I’m trying one of her recipes that my aunt has been making for a very long time. I’m nervous! I want it to be as perfect as I heard she used to make it.

    As for the torte… I love it! I really really really like poppy seeds, and custard. I might skip the frosting but I’m definitely making this very soon! looks delicious!

  16. Marion says:

    Why oh why oh why cannot you give out the recipe?!
    This would be number one in my baking list definitely!

  17. Paige says:

    Our family has an old recipe almost identical to this one … it’s the best cake in the world! Our filling is a little different, but fairly similar. We only get it for birthdays – a special treat. I’m hesitant to give out the recipe as well.

  18. Lindyloo says:

    Loved the photographs particularly the one of a pair of older hands and a pair of young hands working together. Can you keep working on your Grandma to ’share the love’ alternatively, can you get her to publish her own cookbook. Cheers and thanks

  19. ChristineD says:

    Please work on a cookbook so you can share this and other wonderful recipes.

  20. Julie says:

    This looks delish. I am not saying it’s identical, but midwest living has an online recipe for “perfect poppy seed torte”. It might be a good starting point for those who want to try this.

  21. I’ve just posted about some poppy seed butterfly cakes I made with a custard/pastry cream filling inspired by this – hope you don’t mind!

  22. Liz says:

    No recipe? Whats the point? Food blogger not sharing the recipe? That’s a first…

  23. Dawn says:

    Erica! Wonderful as usual! It’s been awhile since I visited your blog and of course I was ecstatic to see all of the lovely recipes! I don’t find it odd at all that your generous grandmother doesn’t want to share her recipes. I’ve met so many people who won’t share recipes with me in my everyday life (church friends, family members…)- so I wouldn’t expect that someone I barely know would give out a “family-secret”. I wanted to comment though on how special I think it is that she is passing the torch on to her grand-daughters. I love the photos! For years my grandmother made a wonderful cake at Christmas. Red velvet! When I asked her for the recipe, she told her she’d give it to me “at some point”. I almost cried when years later I received a lovingly-tattered, yellowed piece of paper in her writing, with the recipe scrawled down. She told me she was finally ready ;)

  24. Sunny Tang says:

    Frankly, I am disappointed in both this post and in your grandmother. What kind of a person feels obliged to taunt us with pictures of food that we can never make? My grandmother died last year, and she was known for her generosity and delicious food. She always encouraged me to share my recipes with everybody and allow others to share in the joy of cooking. I hope that your grandmother comes to her senses before it’s too late. I’m sorry for my candor, but this is a very personal issue that really affects me.

    An atheist young woman,
    Sunny Tang

  25. Dani says:

    I really liked following the pictorial of making the cake. There is so much value in the photo of your grandma’s hand over yours. Sometimes a recipe is a labor of love and I, for one, understand your grandma’s hesitation to share it. Thank you/ her for the tip of soaking the seeds.

  26. Sunny Tang says:

    I like you Fran.

  27. L. says:

    Hey, just wanted to say that this post inspired me to try and make a poppy seed torte, using the recipe in the comments above, so thank you :) I think you’re so lucky to have a grandmother to pass down recipes to you; no one in my family cooks/bakes except me, so I’m on my own!

  28. Jana says:

    This looks exactly like the cake that my mom makes every year for our birthdays… she got the recipe from her grandmother… it is the BEST cake!! It looks exactly the same… well not exactly we use real whipped cream as the frosting. Yours I can’t tell if it’s whipped cream or frosting… that would change the taste. Hum….

  29. Ri says:

    I understand that this is not the same recipe, but still

    There is a Poppy seed cake recipe here that you can use for the layers:

    Creamy Custard here:


    Joy of Cooking book has recipe for the Poppy Seed Custard Cake, just google it.


Banana Poppy Seed Bread & Other Matters


Allow me to share a few things with you:

This week I had the honor of writing a guest post over at the Tasty Kitchen blog. {link}

Joy the Baker commented on my blog. *squeals with delight*

I made Hannah’s (honey & jam) recipe for Roasted Broccoli the other night. Delicious beyond words.



Now let me share this delicious banana bread with you.

The inspiration came from Patricia Scarpin over at The Technicolor Kitchen. You should stop by and pay her a visit – her photos are gorgeous.


Notes: I just followed my basic banana bread recipe, left out the nuts, and added 1/4 cup of poppy seeds. The result was a tasty bread with a pleasant little crunch from the poppy seeds.

Confession: I under-baked the bread just a little and the center was a bit gooey. But the taste completely made up for it.


Banana Poppy Seed Bread

Printable Page


  • 2 cups (8 ounces) Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • ¾ cup maple sugar, sucanat, rapadura, demerara or granulated sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3-4  large, darkly speckled bananas, mashed well (about 1½ cups)
  • ¼ cup whole plain yogurt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 1-2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons poppy seeds


1) Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan.

2) In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, mix the mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter, and vanilla until well blended. Gently fold the banana mixture into the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula just until combined. Fold in the poppy seeds. Batter with be thick and chunky.

3) Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, about 55-60 minutes.

4) Remove from oven and cool in pan for 5 minutes. Gently loosen the edges with a knife. Transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes one large loaf



10 Responses to “Banana Poppy Seed Bread & Other Matters”

  1. Maria says:

    Glad you had a good week. Loved your guest post and how fun that Joy stopped by. I love Hannah’s recipes as well, I will have to try the broccoli. You deserve all of your success. You are truly talented. Thanks for sharing this recipe. I love the poppyseeds in there! Have a great weekend!

  2. Your guest post on Tasty Kitchen was great! That noodle dish is amazing! We’re hooked on it at my house.
    Your bread looks great-I never thought to add poppy seeds. I hear they’re nutritious–calcium, I think.
    Have a good weekend :)

  3. You are just too sweet – thank you for your kind words!
    Your bread looks so good – very tender, just the way I like it. Yum!

  4. Jennifer says:

    I really love the addition of the poppyseeds in this already fabulous, hearty banana bread!! It looks amazing!!! I too undercook the center of my banana bread sometimes, but I like the gooey goodness! :)

  5. Elga says:

    I love poppy seeds, and I think that the smell of a banana bread in the kitchen is one of the best things in life!

  6. This looks yummy! I bought a packet of poppy seeds the other day but still haven’t decided what to do with them – maybe this would be a good idea…

    You have a wonderful blog (worthy of Joy looking at!). Thank you for stopping by mine and for the lovely mention on twitter :)

  7. M. says:

    beautiful recipe, I love addition of poppy seeds…it makes it extra special :)

  8. […] from a recipe at Cooking for Seven  Link to this page  Link to this page Copy the code below to your web site. […]

  9. Natalie says:

    Looks delicious. I will try this recipe. I love banana bread and I have some poppy seeds in the cupboard.

  10. Suzy Harris says:

    Erica, I just discovered your blog through this recipe – which I tried last night and it made the best banana bread I’ve ever made. I used all white whole wheat flour (from Bob’s Red Mill) and more poppy seeds – and I was very happy with the results. Thank you!

Creamy Coconut Fruit Salad


I must admit that I used to avoid creamy salads. They were usually filled with marshmallows and candy bars. This seemed so wrong in a salad. Then, some good friends of ours introduced us to this delicious salad.



It contains no super-sugary candy. Just five ingredients: pineapples, Mandarin oranges, bananas, sour cream, and coconut. We call it Five-Salad.


The fruit gives the salad some natural sweetness. The tangy sour cream lends a creamy texture. The dessicated coconut adds a bit of crunch and soaks up extra moisture so the salad isn’t watery.

The best part: it is so easy to make. Just throw all the ingredients into a bowl, mix, let chill for a bit, and serve.


Notes: The salad is best if it is eaten the same day it is made.

This recipe is very forgiving. We usually just estimate the amounts of ingredients, increasing the quantity of the fruits we especially like. Experiment!

Creamy Coconut Fruit Salad

Printable Page


  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups dessicated coconut
  • 1 can (20 oz.) pineapple chunks (in juice, not syrup, if possible)
  • 1 can (15 oz.) mandarin oranges (in juice, not syrup, if possible)
  • 2-3 large, ripe bananas, or enough to make about 1 cup


1) Slice the bananas into a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and gently stir. If the salad seems wet, add more coconut.

2) Let the salad chill in the refrigerator until serving, about half an hour.

Makes approximately 5-6 cups, or 6 servings


16 Responses to “Creamy Coconut Fruit Salad”

  1. Lauren says:

    I’m the same – those sweet salads were never something I really enjoyed. This however looks lovely! Sour cream always adds such a wonderful freshness with fruit :).

  2. says:

    Mmm! I’d love to try this will greek yogurt instead of sour cream :)

  3. Heather says:

    yum! sounds wonderful!

  4. vivi says:

    It looks very delicious and not complicated. I can try.

  5. This reminds me of a summer fruit salad my mother used to put together for picnics and family gatherings. so simple yet so yummy! beautiful!

  6. emily s says:

    yum! My mom used to make this, but with whip cream! brings back delicious memories : ) thanks Erica!

  7. kate says:

    seriously? this is ambrosia salad without the mini-marshmallows.

  8. Erica Lea says:

    kate I’ll bet it is! Our friends mentioned that they substituted bananas for the marshmallows. I think it’s a wonderful exchange.

  9. Nan says:

    At last, a healthy version of ‘Heavenly Hash’! I found your recipe on Foodgawker and was so pleased to see it I featured your recipe on my blog. This is going to appear on one of my menus this summer, although I’ll crush the pineapple up a bit.

  10. Ambrosia! Yum! It’s one of my favorite things ever. I must admit though… I’m totally in it for the marshmallows.

  11. Maura says:

    Wow! What a revelation – I always thought creamy fruit salads were overly sweet and down right weird. This one looks delish – I can’t wait to try it!

  12. Michelle says:

    I love creamy salads, but I never make them cuz they are so unhealthy! This is a great alternative! Thank you for sharing. The ambrosia recipes usually have more sugar in them, I like that the fruit sweetens this one.

  13. Carla says:

    I made it last night with low fat sour cream and it was so yummy! My family makes it with mini marshallows and whipped cream and I think that is too sugary. Thanks for posting your version! I’m going to try it again soon but with greek yogurt.

  14. Myrna says:

    My mother made this on holidays and I could never get enough of it. She called it 5-Cup Salad. It’s so refreshing in the summer time.

  15. sheelbeel says:

    I never would have thought to put sour cream in dessert but this looks wonderful!

  16. Jena says:

    This is my favorite fruit salad recipe! Its so tasty! I add red grapes and walnuts for a little more color and texture! Thank you for posting the recipe! :)

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake


As I looked at our nearly bare garden and spotted our healthy rhubarb plants, a sudden fancy hit me. Rhubarb upside down cake. We had made this recipe once before with success. So my sister & I quickly harvested the tenderest shoots.

Then, as we were prepping our ingredients, panic stuck. There wasn’t a stick of butter in the house. Amanda & I looked at each other and shrieked.



Thankfully, Grandma lent us a couple sticks of butter and our cake was saved! And it was definitely worth the trip to Grandma’s.

Notes: We of course substituted whole wheat flour & a natural sweetener in this recipe. Even with all whole wheat, the cake was very tender.
We like to serve this with a warm vanilla custard. You can use the recipe for vanilla saucefound here & increase the milk to 3 cups.


Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

Adapted from Taste of Home

Printable Page

  • 2/3 cup maple sugar or sweetener of choice
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2-1/4 cups diced fresh or frozen rhubarb
  • 4-1/2 teaspoons maple sugar or sweetener of choice
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup maple sugar
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (4 1/2 ounces) whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Whipped cream or vanilla custard, optional

1) Preheat oven to 325° F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan. In a small bowl, combine the sugar & melted butter. Spread in the bottom of the prepared pan. Layer with the rhubarb & sprinkle with 4 1/2 teaspoons of maple sugar. Set aside.
2) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter & 3/4 cups of maple sugar until light & fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the egg yolks & vanilla extract and mix.
3) In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer running on low, slowly add half of the flour, the milk, and the other half of the flour, beating well after each addition & scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
4) In a clean, medium-sized bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Gradually fold into the batter. Gently spoon over the rhubarb in the pan.
5) Bake in preheated oven until the cake springs back when lightly touched, about 50-60 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla custard.
Makes approximately 8-10 servings

24 Responses to “Rhubarb Upside Down Cake”

  1. Esther says:

    We just made a rhubarb dessert yesterday! Yours looks like a good recipe, we’ll have to try it sometime!

  2. Maria says:

    I am so glad you posted this cake recipe. I have four rhubarb plants and I am always looking for new recipes to try. This one looks like a winner. Thanks. Love the photos too!

  3. cindy says:

    your rhubarb is gorgeous! and the cake looks fantastic too :)

  4. What a beautiful photo of rhubarb! I’m so proud it’s home-grown!

  5. I LOVE all things rhubarb and this is one BEAUTIFUL cake!!!!! I cannot wait to try this! Gorgeous pictures!

  6. Amy says:

    This looks delicious! I just made rhubarb-strawberry crisp and THEN found this, I wish I would’ve come across this sooner! This is definitely on my list to make next.

  7. Oh my I have to make this! I have 4 rhubarb plants. I am jealous though…ours are much more green. I found out that there are different varieties and the one that grows best here doesn’t get that pretty dark red color. :(

  8. Malin says:

    I made rhubarb-cake (of a muffin recipe) for the first time last year, and it was soo good. Yesterday I got such a craving, and had to ask my mom how the rhubarb plants were coming along in their garden. But snow started falling – again – so for now I guess I just have to look at your beautiful cake…

  9. I have never tried rhubarb (very hard to find it here), but know for sure I would love this cake – it looks wonderful!

  10. Tracy says:

    This looks wonderful! Bookmarking it!

  11. emily s says:

    Okay, now I really need to try rhubarb again… I haven’t had it in forever, and remember not liking it, but this cake is making me DROOL!
    It looks insanely delish!
    thanks Erica : ))
    Oh, I also like your use of the maple syrup …

  12. I’m so weird about rhubarb. I kinda don’t like it, but I’ve been seen so many recipes lately–this one included–that are making me question myself. This looks beautiful!

  13. That rhubarb cake looks so good!

  14. […] Rhubarb Upside Down Cake | Cooking for Seven – As I looked at our nearly bare garden and spotted our healthy rhubarb plants, a sudden fancy hit me. Rhubarb upside down cake. We had made this recipe once. […]

  15. […] Rhubarb Upside Down Cake with rhubarb fresh from the garden. Rhubarb desserts seem to be popping up left, right and centre at the moment so clearly we had to take part in the rhubarb loving mayhem.   […]

  16. Patty says:

    I’m sure this tastes awesome with the maple sugar and fresh rhubarb – yum! Thank you for sharing!

  17. Lily says:

    This cake is ok, but more like a cookie than a cake. The mixing directions are confusing to follow and I kind of had to end up guessing how to put it all together in the end.

  18. prodigious register you’ve latch on to

  19. That looks ridiculously delicious! I can’t wait to bake this… perfect for spring!

    Great blog; happy I found you!

    Mary xo
    Delightful Bitefuls

  20. I can’t wait for the rhubarb to be up in our garden!!

  21. Verity says:

    I tried this cake yesterday for my family of 8 and it is all gone already. It was absolutely amazing! Thank you so very much for this recipe!

  22. Julie says:

    Can you substitute the maple sugar for brown sugar? I’ve never tried maple sugar and am not sure of the availability in my area. This recipe looks great and can’t wait to check out more of your website.

  23. Looks scrumptious! Thanks for the recipe. :)

  24. Rachel says:

    This is the best cake I’ve ever eaten, and my family very much agreed. Four of us finished it in one night and they requested I bake it again a week later!! Can’t wait till rhubarb is back in season. :) Thank you for the recipe!

A-Hunting We Did Go…


Each spring, around the time of opening fishing, when the ferns begin to pop up, we head out with our mesh gathering bags to hunt for morel mushrooms. We have a special spot down the road that is nearly guaranteed to give us a few of these delectable little fungi.


Yesterday, about an hour before supper, I decided it was high time we visited our secret hunting ground. We spent about half and hour of careful search & brought home enough mushrooms to complement our dinner.



So if you find yourself with a few of these precious mushrooms, please: eat them plain, cooked in butter & seasoned with salt and pepper. Don’t put them in a soup or pasta dish. They are far too good by themselves. Or with bleu cheese. Yes — Bleu Cheese!


To cook morel mushrooms:


  • Butter
  • Morel Mushroom
  • Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper


1) Cut the mushrooms in half lengthwise & remove any dirt or bugs.

2) In a medium skillet, melt a generous amount of butter. Add the mushroom & season with salt & pepper to taste. The mushrooms with release their “juices” and the skillet will become saucy.

3) Cook until most of the liquid is gone & the mushrooms begin to darken. Transfer to a serving bowl and eat/devour immediately.


20 Responses to “A-Hunting We Did Go…”

  1. Maria says:

    Thank you for posting your mushroom hunting adventures. I miss those days. Great photos! Eat a few for me:)

  2. Yum! What a fun family activity! :)

  3. Valerie says:

    I love mushrooms, but I’ve never had the good fortune to try morels. I have not seen them in the stores where I live (Western Massachusetts), but I’ll try to find some soon!

    I’ve only just been pointed to your site, and I browsed through some of your older posts. Oh MY but your photography is lovely! And your recipes look so good. I can’t tell you how many I’ve filed away in all my recipe bookmarks. And through it all your style is elegantly simple and comforting, both in substance and writing. Very well done. I look forward to following you. :-)

  4. joanne says:

    wow! those are some beautiful mushrooms!! i love your blog, such yummy recipes! thanks for sharing…joanne

  5. Keren says:

    Wow, you found alot! My Mom and Dad went looking for them and found a grand total of two. :)

  6. Jessy says:

    Such a brave young woman, hunting for mushrooms in the wild! We had some mushrooms in the woods near our home (we were looking for morels, but didn’t find any :-( ) We did come across some gigantic ones, however, larger than a basketball! We had no idea what they were but when we came home we looked them up online and found they were called “giant puffball.” They’re said to be delicious. Have you ever tried them?

  7. Jim-49 says:

    “Oh My”,bringing back memories!! I was on a job in Southern Ohio,and a friend,said lets go get some of these wonderful things.I had never hunted these before,so we went up to his daddy’s house,and found 2 large grociery bags,they were great!! We,sliced them as you did,and put them in some salted cornmeal,and fried them,oh so good!!! Taste just like a southern favorite fish,the old mullet.The post sure stired old friendship,and a wonderful meal,”Thanks”!!

  8. Jenn says:

    Hi Erica, Just found your wonderful blog through Tastespotting. What beautiful photos! Your food looks delicious and simple…I look forward to reading more!

  9. I love morel mushrooms although I haven’t had any in years. I recall the spring hunts we went on in Michigan when my ex-husband and I would visit his family.

    Before then, whenever I heard about people hunting for mushrooms I was not interested, never sure of whether one would be poisonous or not. But look at those things…they are hard to spot they are so unique in appearance.

    True story…so abundant that they were available fried at the local A&W Root Beer stand…now to get them I would have to pay $40/lb. Think I’ll just have to keep the memory.

  10. Kaitlin says:

    I am SO jealous! My brother and I went out looking for morels today but didn’t find any.

    We did get a bag full of asparagus, though. YAY!

    This sounds amazing right now. I love your photos, too!

  11. Ellie says:

    What fun it is to hunt for your own mushrooms! Life little pleasures.

  12. Valerie says:

    Hi Erica! Just letting you know that you’ve been given an award! Stop by to claim it. :-)

  13. helsbells says:


    I really like your blog, I think the granola recipe looks delicious, can’t wait to give it a try.

  14. Miranda says:

    Hey there! I also discovered your blog through Tastespotting. I bought some morels from the grocery store recently (at $40 a pound!) and read that I should cut them in half, soak them, and then rinse them. I rinsed them pretty thoroughly to remove all of the sand and dirt, but when I took a bite of the cooked morels, they were still realllly gritty. I was so bummed and had to throw them out. Any help would be awesome!

  15. Erica Lea says:

    Thank you all for your very kind words.

    Jessy: No I have never tried puffballs, but I think I’ve heard they’re good.

    Jim: Hmmm…dipped in cornmeal & fried sounds delicious.

    Miranda: We’ve had that happen to us as well. Your mushroom were probably not harvested correctly. Dad makes sure we break the mushrooms off above the ground so we don’t get any dirt. Other than rinsing them really well, I don’t know what you could do to get rid of that grit.

  16. Elizabeth says:

    Jessy, my grandpa tells stories of eating puffballs when he was a boy. At that time, his father was ill and money was super-tight around the farm – puffballs were free and filling. He says his mother fried them up in butter, much like you would eggplant. Just be sure the puffballs are nice and young when you pick them – if there’s any tinge of yellow to the flesh, you’re too late.

  17. Elizabeth says:

    also: be sure you peel the puffball. The outer skin is chewy and nasty.

  18. Stunning! I wish that I was so lucky to have a secret spot with mushrooms. I adore mushrooms.

  19. Beautiful pictures, how I would like to get in on that bowl of morels. now that its so cold, its hard to imagine going out to pick mushrooms. Thought you might be interested in this video I did on morels -there’s another about chantarelles too, have you picked them before? soooo good. thanks for your work.

  20. ashleyenfrance says:

    In France these precious mushrooms are 30€ a kilo, so precious indeed. Also, another good way of eatting them is to cook them with butter, garlic, and parsley. Then add sea salt at the end.




“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…to a pantry to fetch two beautiful round seed-cakes which he had baked that afternoon for his after-supper morsel.

When my sister read those words from The Hobbit, I could almost taste the seed-cakes. They sounded like a wonderful blend of sweet and savory. A perfect companion to tea.


Nearly tenyears after listening to that timeless tale, I decided to try my handing at baking up a beautiful seed-cake.



The ingredients and process are very simple: Mix together the dry ingredients. Cream butter, sugar, orange zest, and vanilla. Beat in eggs & stir in dry ingredients & milk. Fold in the caraway seeds. Bake & enjoy with butter or cream.


Notes: Need I say that I made my usual substitutions? I used approximately half whole wheat & half all-purpose flour. If you’re feeling brave, you could use all whole wheat flour.

For the sweetener, I used our newly made maple sugar. You can use granulated sugar, rapadura, demerara, or whatever you wish!

The original recipe called for 1 tablespoon of orange zest. The amount scared me a bit, so reduced it to about a teaspoon. My mistake. Another time I would add the complete amount.

Caraway Seed Cake

Adapted from Rosa

Printable Page


  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons ground almonds
  • 3/4 cup (1 ½ sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup maple sugar or sweetener of choice
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons caraway seeds

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter a 9×5 inch loaf pan & line with parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flours, baking powder, salt, and almonds. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter & sugar until light colored and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the orange zest & vanilla extract and mix.

4. Add the dry ingredients and milk alternately, a little at a time, until it is fully incorporated. Fold in the caraway seeds.

5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with sugar and bake for 50-60 minutes or until lightly golden on top and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Let cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Pull the cake out of the pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.  Serve with butter, cream, or whipped cream.

Makes 1 (9×5-inch) loaf cake

13 Responses to “Seed-Cake”

  1. Reeve says:

    You have been passed on a little gift from my blog, which was passed on from others to me- it is the Pure in Heart gift! You can easily get the (simple) details if you visit my blog. I just love your blog and writing and recipes and photos! May Jesus be your every Light!

  2. Kristin says:

    I love your blog! This recipe looks so good. What kind of camera do you use?

  3. It looks so tender! I wish I could try one – maybe two? – slices, yum… :)

  4. I love this! Although I was enthralled with all the adventures the hobbits got into, I was also captivated by just how much they loved food. Those little guys sure could eat. ;)

  5. Erica Lea says:

    Reeve: Thank you – you’re so sweet!

    Kristin: So glad you enjoy my blog! I use the Nikon D80 with a 50mm 1.8 lens for the majority of my food photos. I absolutely love it.

    Patricia: It is hard to stop at just one slice. ;)

    Carolyn: Yes, you can definitely tell that Tolkien liked his food. It certainly comes out in his descriptions!

  6. Amanda says:

    Beautiful Erica! I should have stopped by here to get ideas for photography my banana bread… you are just so talented!

  7. polwig says:

    The cake looks absolutely great…. orange zest, almonds and caraway seeds can make it almost savory as much as sweet… to be added with chicken chilli as much as with spring salad…. not that i know my taste buds of course… but I love it… thank you

  8. Maria says:

    Oh my, this cake has it all. Love the flavors.

  9. As soon as I get a breather this week I am making that!!! Ooooooo :)

  10. Megan says:

    Hello! I was looking for a seed cake recipe since we’re currently reading The Hobbit as a family and was delighted to find not only the recipe here, but also the mention of the book. I linked to this page on my blog, and thought you’d like to know. Lovely website!

  11. Lauren says:

    I am listening to ‘The Hobbit’ audiobook. I just listened to that passage and found this blog via google search. Love the title! I will have to try this recipe. Thanks for posting!

  12. Lauren says:

    Oh yes, I meant to mention I grew up cooking for 6!