Caraway seeds look confusingly like cumin seeds and as such their most common use in my kitchen is when I don’t look closely at the jar and use caraway instead of cumin. Caraway and cumin seeds are most definitely not interchangeable. Caraway seeds taste almost sweetly of aniseed in a refreshing palette-cleansing way, whereas cumin is earthy and most definitely savoury.
I don’t often have a deliberate use for caraway seeds and I get excited when I see recipes that call for these cumin seeds in-disguise. There’s a fantastic recipe in the Ripe Deli book for sautéed Savoy cabbage which uses plenty of butter and few teaspoons of caraway.
My other great use for caraway seeds is in treacle and caraway apple muffins. The combination of the dark caramel contrasted with the crunchy aniseed freshness of the caraway seeds and the soft tartness of the apple is completely intriguing and something I crave from time to time. These muffins freeze well and can patiently wait in the freezer for those moments when you crave a little sweet something.
Treacle caraway & apple muffins
From Dan Lepard, original recipe available here
100g butter, melted
50ml oil (I used rice bran)
160g soft brown sugar
3 free-range eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
3 teaspoons caraway seeds, lightly toasted in a dry frying pan
230g plain flour or gluten-free flour
70g ground almonds
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 Granny Smith apples, chopped into 1cm-ish cubes (I don’t peel them)
Get the oven preheating to 190˚C and lightly coat a 12-pocket muffin tin with some non-stick spray. Melt the butter and add to a large bowl with the treacle, oil and sugar; grab a whisk and beat until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla and lightly toasted caraway seeds – mix well.
Add the flour, ground almonds and baking powder and lightly fold through the mixture, remembering the golden rule of muffin-making: don’t over-mix. When there are still a few dry patches of flour remaining, throw in the chopped apple and mix it through. The mixture will look chunky with apple and not much cake batter – go with it. Fill the muffin tins with mixture and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden. You should definitely eat one while they’re still warm.