Rye Pound Cake with Seed Medley


Rye flour. Caraway seeds. Pepitas. Three of my favorite ingredients. This cake, to quote the wonderful Heidi Swanson from her latest book Near & Far: Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel, "is a tender-crumbed, highly seeded, unfussy affair". Unfussy. I like that.

Part of the pleasure of reading a cookbook is letting the words roll around in your mouth, like a teaser before the big reveal. Tender-crumbed. Yes, I would like to be responsible for that sensation. The joy of cooking from a recipe, for me, comes from feeling as though someone just handed you a page from a moment in their life. What you're really doing, when you're recreating that pound cake, is crafting an entryway into that moment. There are many such tender moments in this book, some created close to home, and some inspired by faraway lands, although the sense of space, time and distance is intricately coiled for me right now.

This recipe is from the Near half of the book, where home for Heidi is San Francisco. I moved to the Bay Area (from worlds away) not long ago, and I'm still trying to make sense of the idea of home. With this cake baking in the oven on one crisp Fall morning, home smells of sweetness, not the sugary kind but a deep, meaningful one. I credit that to the coconut sugar in the batter, one of several adaptations I had to make to the recipe. The others being the use of dark rye flour, white sesame seeds instead of black, and substituting butter and yogurt with olive oil and coconut yogurt to make it dairy-free.

Tender-crumbed. Highly seeded. Unfussy. They all showed up, together with a few friends: Moist, Wholesome, Earthy, Thoughtful. Ever had a cake that's thoughtful? Well, this one is. I look forward to making this cake again and again to revisit the moment when it's sliced open for the first time to reveal the generous medley of seeds. And for that sparing but distinctive burst of caraway flavor that thoughtfully punctuates the whole affair with this delightfully rustic cake.

Rye Pound Cake with Seed Medley

Adapted from Near & Far: Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel by Heidi Swanson.

Makes 1 cake.

2 1/4 cups (285g) dark rye flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon lightly toasted caraway seeds

1 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1/3 cup (60g) pepitas (sunflower seeds)

1 cup (115) pumpkin seeds

1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest

3/4 cup (155g) olive oil

1 cup (150g) coconut sugar

1/2 cup runny honey

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 eggs, at room temperature

1 cup non-dairy yogurt

Preheat oven to 350ºF. OPil the sides of a 10-cup/2.5L Bundt pan, dust lightly with flour and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together rye flour, baking powder, salt, caraway seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and orange zest. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat olive oil and coconut sugar with an electric mixer until combined. Gradually beat in honey and vanilla extract. Add eggs one at a time, making sure that each is fully incorporated into the mixture before adding the next.

Add half of the flour mixture and mix until fully combined. Then add half of the yogurt and mix until fully combined. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture and yogurt. Mix thoroughly until all ingredients are fully incorporated.

Pour the batter into the pan. Jiggle the batter to distribute evenly and knock pan on worktop 2 to 3 times to make sure it's completely level. Bake until a tester inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean, about 50 to 60 minutes. Allow cake to rest in the pan for about 5 minutes before turning it out on a wire rack to cool.

When cool slice, serve and enjoy!