A traditional Dundee cake comes from Dundee, Scotland, which is quite simply how this cake got its name. The cake distinguishes itself from other rich fruit cakes by the circles of blanched almonds on the top. There are many versions of the Dundee Cake, all claiming to be “the one,” but, usually any lovely rich fruit cake will do the job. This cake is as close as you can get to a true, traditional Dundee cake, as it contains the almonds, whisky, and the orange peel.
Dundee is also the birthplace of British marmalade, thanks to the Keiller family, who are generally credited with making the first commercially available, breakfast preserve. As such, a pure and true Dundee cake will include the zest of an orange, thus linking it to the marmalade-making in the town. This recipe includes a little of both, and so has quite a citrus tang to it.
As this is also a Scottish cake, traditionally a malt whisky would be used to flavor the cake. However, if whisky is not your tipple, then feel free to use brandy or even sherry.
For the Cake
- 2 tbsp milk
- 500g mixed dried fruit
- 180g light muscovado sugar
- 100g whole glacé cherry
- 3 tbsp apricot jam or marmalade
- 225g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 100g ground almonds
- 180g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- zest 1 large orange
- 100g blanched almonds
For the Glaze
- 2 tsp caster sugar
- 1 tbsp milk
PREPARING THE OVEN
- Put the almonds into a small bowl and pour over boiling water to just cover.
- Leave for 5 mins then drain in a sieve and leave to dry.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/160 C fan/Gas Mark 4.
- Line a deep loose-based 20cm cake tin with baking parchment.
MIXING THE INGREDIENTS
- Put the butter in a large bowl and beat well until soft.
- Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
- Stir in the orange zest and apricot jam.
- Sieve together the flour and baking powder.
- Add the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar, a little at a time, beating well between each addition.
- If the mixture starts to curdle, stir in a little flour.
- Add the remaining flour and ground almonds and mix well.
- Mix in the milk and then add the dried fruit and cherries and mix gently together.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and spread level using the back of a spoon.
- Arrange the whole almonds close together in neat circles on the top of the cake.
- Bake in the oven for 45 mins.
- Lower the oven temperature to 160C/140 C fan/Gas Mark 3 and cook for a further 60–80 minutes. Check the cake after 50 minutes by inserting a wooden or metal skewer into the cake. When it’s done it should have just a few crumbs attached.
- Check every 10 minutes – it’s important not to overcook this cake so the centre will be a little soft.
GLAZE AND SERVE
- When cooked, remove the cake briefly from the oven, put the milk and sugar into a small pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.
- Brush over the top of the cake and return the cake to the oven for 2-3 mins.
- Remove and allow the cake to cool in the tin. When quite cold remove from the tin and wrap in foil and keep for at least 2 days before cutting.