“Beautiful Round Seed-Cake” by Astrid Tuttle Winegar
“Rifflo,” a.k.a. Mr. Steve Fitch, asked me (very nicely) to contribute the occasional recipe to Legendarium. So I would like to follow the story of The Hobbit first, then eventually get around to The Lord of the Rings. I may take detours to Narnia, Westeros, or maybe Hogwarts; I may even dally in the final frontier, since I’m sure everyone is dying for a recipe for (mock) Gagh!
J. R. R. Tolkien describes “hobbits” as small in stature, unmagical, “inclined to be fat in the stomach,” and they “laugh deep fruity laughs (especially after dinner, which they have twice a day when they can get it).” Individually, each hobbit character would probably remind you of people you know, including yourself; that’s probably a good reason these invented characters resonate so well with readers. If I started discussing what hobbits represent, this post would turn into a dissertation and I would rather not pursue that pathway. Suffice to say for the purposes of my light-hearted postings that, in general, hobbits are rather obsessed with eating and drinking.
As a perfect example, take Bilbo Baggins, the hero of The Hobbit. Bilbo leads a quiet, bachelor life in his snug hobbit hole in the Shire. He is not the sort of hobbit to participate in any sort of adventure, believing that adventures are “Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!” So, Bilbo is enjoying his lovely home with all of its culinary pleasures when he is rudely interrupted by the arrival of the wizard Gandalf, who suggests that Bilbo join him on an “adventure.” After Gandalf leaves, Bilbo is upset, and though he “had only just had breakfast, […] he thought a cake or two and a drink of something would do him good after his fright.” Now if that’s not compulsive eating and drinking (…what? I’m assuming Bilbo drinks milky, sugary tea at this time of day), I don’t know what is. I think many people can relate to Bilbo taking comfort in food.
Thirteen dwarves soon arrive at Bag-End, and later Gandalf. They all proceed to raid Bilbo’s pantries and kitchens (this makes one wonder why a single hobbit needs multiple pantries and kitchens, doesn’t it?). Perhaps this is a good idea; since Bilbo does (uncharacteristically) leave home, he doesn’t have to worry about all of his lovely homemade goodies going to waste. Bilbo is in a tizzy, for not only do these conspiratorial and annoying dwarves feast on all of Bilbo’s tea-type treats, they also request more substantial fare.
Yet, Bilbo indeed runs off with them, constantly bemoaning the fact that he has forgotten his pocket-handkerchief and regretting the lack of frequent meals on the road. They encounter trolls, elves, and goblins. Bilbo meets the wicked Gollum and obtains a magical Ring. They are aided by a shape-shifter named Beorn and afterwards they almost become dinner for dozens of giant spiders. Finally, they reach their ultimate destination and overcome their greatest enemy: the dragon Smaug. Then, of course, there’s a war; The Hobbit is certainly filled with lots of action, to say the least. Bilbo proves his worth to the dwarves, who sometimes doubted his abilities. And along the way, there are constant references to food and drink; what other fictional characters enjoy second breakfasts, elevensies, afternoon tea, and all the basic meals in between? Why can’t we all eat like that, all the time?!
Well, we’ll begin with the unfortunate (or serendipitous, depending on your perspective) dwarf invasion of Bilbo’s home. When Bilbo offers refreshments, the dwarf Balin requests beer instead of tea, and seed-cake. Bilbo fetches the beer from a cellar and rushes to one of his pantries (again, I wonder, how many pantries does a single hobbit need…?) “to fetch two beautiful round seed-cakes which he had baked that afternoon for his after-supper morsel.” Of course, you can double this recipe if you really need two cakes…
“Beautiful Round Seed-Cake”
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cake flour
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ tablespoon plus 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
½ tablespoon plus 1 tablespoon lightly toasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon plus 2 tablespoons salted, dry roasted sunflower seeds
¼ cup plus ¼ cup soft salted butter
½ cup light sour cream
½ cup buttermilk
1 extra large egg, room temperature
¼ cup packed golden brown sugar
¼ cup old-fashioned oats
Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a 9″ springform pan with 2″ deep sides with cooking spray or grease lightly. In a large bowl, combine both of the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, ½ tablespoon each of the poppy seeds and sesame seeds, and 1 tablespoon of the sunflower seeds. Add and mix in ¼ cup of the butter and the sour cream. In a 2-cup glass measure, whisk together the buttermilk and the egg, then mix this into the dry ingredients. Spread in prepared pan. In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, oats, and the remaining seeds. Add the remaining ¼ cup butter and combine. Sprinkle this evenly in clumps on top of the batter. Bake at 350° for 37-41 minutes or until the center tests done. Place on a rack and cool at least 30 minutes before removing pan sides and cutting. Keep leftovers covered at room temperature. Serves 6-8.
This cake is known as Göll’s Gorgeous Seed Cake in Cooking for Halflings and Monsters: 111 Comfy, Cozy Recipes for Fantasy-Loving Souls. Try it as a snack, or for breakfast. Is it good with beer? It certainly is!
Astrid Tuttle Winegar
Astrid Tuttle Winegar is the author of Cooking for Halflings and Monsters: 111 Comfy, Cozy Recipes for Fantasy-Loving Souls, which is currently available in e-book form on the Amazon Kindle, but will soon be released by Oloris Publishing! Stay tuned for details. Astrid has loved C. S. Lewis since childhood, J. R. R. Tolkien since middle and high school, all Star things, both Trek and Wars, all things Whedon, and many other things besides… She lives in the enchanted city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her husband and dog. Her blog can be found at http://halflingsandmonsters.wordpress.com/. You can check out (and like!) her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/halflingsandmonsters or visit her Twitter feed at http://twitter.com/astridwinegar.