5. A Recipe for a Seed Cake

for the memory of my father

Whose favourite cake this was, cuing
yet more stories of army life – just
2 types of cake allowed them, fly & sand
trapped in a real utopian dream
peaceably defending this island from excesses
corrosive & absolute, unlike pleasures
like just baking beautiful cake
an act of trust unfrantic as
what? the coming of blossoms – do it well
for here is what will help:
                            125 g self-raising flour
                            125 g caster sugar
                            125 g butter
                            3 medium eggs
                            1 tsp baking powder
                            2-3 tbsps ground almonds
                            ½-¾ tbsp caraway seeds

Hopeful to begin, cook it in a small loaf tin
buttered & floured (like some inconspicuous blossom here
with a length of greaseproof paper across the long axis
its ends 2 handles to grasp onto
put on then the oven at mark 4 (180º)
and suddenly mix!
                  cream the butter & the sugar
add the eggs, and the flour with all the rest
then beat into a homogeneous batter – yeah, yeah
it’s just that simple
                      (I don’t know my father’s recipe
but I guess this as what he learnt
from his grandmother who brought him up
some basic & memorable recipe
                              spoon it
into the tin & set in the oven for about 40 minutes
use your head & check carefully its progress
protect its tawny head from burning too much
& poke into it the oracular skewer
– you want it warm, moist & crumby
                                   not soggy
and then when it is blossoming – take it out
let it cool as it stands for, oh, 10-15 minutes
& lift out finally with the paper, exposed
like a sudden found piece of poetry
                                    trapped on the wire rack

A good cake for drinking with it good beer
or I thought so at the Oto
                          – tho’ not popular there
I make it now in due & inescapable filial piety
let it go on & be made by whoever so wishes
my grandson baby Neirin if so he decides
something is opened
                    let it carry on
                    if & thus it does

[The recipe is the typical Pound Cake1, using here Jane Grigson’s writing of it down. Another recipe gives more flour & more egg – but this cake seems fine, and fits with my father’s two types of army cake – fly cake, of course, made with dried fruit. And as I said, nothing is as good as this seed cake with a good English beer.]


 1 Old Ezra the Baker Poet, that’s a good myth