Foods that remind me of Grandma

Grandma's Seed Cake

When I was a child, once a year we would make the 300km journey to stay with my grandparents for a week during the summer school holidays. There were five of us—Mum, Dad, my sister, brother and me, and we travelled in a small Hillman Imp with our dog, Topsy, on Mum’s knee.

I have fond memories of those holidays, and especially of Grandma’s cooking. To this day, the smell of mint takes me back to Grandma’s roast lamb with mint sauce. Every night she would cook a delicious pudding. There were steamed puddings with custard, Apple Roll, Lemon Surprise Pudding, rice puddings, and Pretending Tommy made with homemade jam or fruit.

I remember the stewed plums for breakfast, and scones or ginger gems for lunch. For afternoon tea there would be homemade biscuits and cakes. Two that remain etched in my memory are Canadian Date Cake and Seed Cake. Grandma’s is the only place I can ever remember having eaten seed cake.

Recently my mother and I were going through Grandma’s old recipe books and we found one from the 1920’s. Although it is moth-eaten and stained, it was fascinating looking through the recipes, some of which we still make today. The cover of the book was missing, but we could tell from the advertisements that it was a local recipe book with recipes contributed from members of the community. It was amusing to see ads for the ‘latest’ motor cars. The recipe book is truly a slice of history and a family heirloom to treasure.

  recipe book5

recipe book3

recipe book4

recipe book2

After finding Grandma’s Seed Cake recipe in one of her books, I bought some caraway seeds to try it out. The recipe is simple to make, yet has a unique taste and texture, and as I bite into it I am transported back to those childhood holidays spent at Grandma and Granddad’s during those hot, humid summers. While my grandparents are no longer with us, those memories will remain with me forever, ignited by the smell of mint, the crunch of a caraway seed, the comfort of a warm steamed pudding with custard.

seed cake

Seed Cake

125 g butter (I used dairy-free spread)
125 g sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon whisky or brandy
175 g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon caraway seeds

Cream butter and sugar. Stir in whisky or brandy. Add beaten eggs alternately with flour, baking powder and caraway seeds previously mixed.
Bake 45 minutes at 180ºC.

Instead of whisky or brandy, I used ½ teaspoon vanilla essence. I don’t remember if Grandma ever iced hers, but I iced mine with lemon icing.



9 thoughts on “Foods that remind me of Grandma

    • You’re right. A lot of the old recipes are different from what we eat today. I think that’s what makes the ones that we remember from our childhood special, and why they remain forever in our hearts and minds.


  1. What a beautiful find! The cake looks delish – I shall have to try that one. I recently made your Jaffa Cupcakes (although without the topping as they go in a lunchbox), and they went down very well, so thank you!
    Also, thank you for such a lovely comment on my blog. It really made me smile, and I know what you mean about seeing names you now recognise. I certainly take even more of an interest if it’s someone I ‘know’. Thanks again! x


  2. Aww your grandma is so cute!! I love grandmas!!

    That book is such an awesome find. I love an old book with old advertisements, but to have a book that’s so personally’s like holding a memory in your hand.

    I have such fond memories of my Mama Glad (great-grandma) and Peg Peg (grandma) and was so lucky as a child to be so close to them. It’s not a birthday without their pound cake and it doesn’t feel like Christmas unless I make their complicated sugar cookies!!


    • You are so lucky to have been close to your grandma and great-grandma as a child. I never knew any of my great-grandparents, they all passed away before I was born. We moved closer to my grandparents in later years, and it was lovely being able to spend more time with them and get to know them better.

      It’s wonderful that you make their sugar cookies at Christmas time. Family recipes are so special!


      • Oh I know, trust me! I had such a great relationship with them both. I never realized how lucky I was until I got around 25ish, and I realized how few of my friends had what I had! And still am lucky enough to have with my grandma.


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