Bilbo’s Seed Cakes

“Come along in, and have some tea!” he managed to say after taking a deep breath.

‘A little beer would suit me better, if it is all the same to you, my good sir,” said Balin with the white beard. “But I don’t mind some cake – seed-cake, if you have any.”

“Lots!” Bilbo found himself answering, to his surprise; and he found himself scuttling off, too, to the cellar to fill a pint beer-mug, and then to a pantry to fetch two beautiful round seed-cakes which he had baked that afternoon for his after-supper morsel.

The Hobbit, Chapter 1, An Unexpected Party, J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit is to me a literary masterpiece, and Tolkien one of the greatest writers in history.  Who can forget Bilbo Baggins tucked safely behind his round, green door when a gaggle of dwarves and a wizard descended on his hobbit hole and took him on a wild adventure?

I have read the book so many times (indeed, I am reading it again now), that the least I can do to honor this classic is to try to bring the seed cakes to life.

I was not working without adversity during this attempt.  After I had put the seed cakes in the oven, my oven went on strike.  This will, unfortunately, be the last bit of baking (or roasting) that I will be able to do for a week until our appliance repair man can come.

But, alas, I give you my own rendition of Bilbo’s Seed Cakes.  These are round and very moist and full of lemon flavor.  If you prefer, you can flavor them with cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg as an alternative.

Bilbo’s Seed Cakes

Category: By the Book, Tea, Elevenses and Other Un-Meals

Bilbo’s Seed Cakes


  • 1/2 lb. of butter (2 sticks)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup of buttermilk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda


Cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest. Add the eggs, honey and buttermilk, beating to combine. Gradually add the flour and baking soda, stirring until everything is mixed together completely.

Divide the batter in half. Add the poppy seeds to one half and the sesame seeds to the other half and mix both well.

Pour each batter into a well greased 6" round pan. Bake at 350º for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool on racks until completely cool and then turn out and cool some more. Wrap them tightly in plastic so that they stay nice and moist.

1 Comment

  1. Silvia

    November 18, 2018 at 7:41 pm

    Bilbo is looking over your shoulder and smiling…he surely whispered this luscious recipe into your ear while you were sleeping…can’t wait to taste it with a cup of Earl Grey.


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