Dundee Cake

We love Dundee cake! Such an easy and delicious cake to make. Fruit cake is a firm favourite in our house and it's nice to try out different types of fruit cake.

Traditionally this cake is made with sultanas, currants and almonds - and no cherries. But my son adores cherries in fruit cake and so we do add them in our recipe. You can, of course, leave them out and simply replace the weight of cherries with sultanas.

Don't be put off by the long list of ingredients. It's very simple to make - just a question of mixing everything together really.

Soaking the fruit in whisky makes a lovely moist cake.

Also, many recipes do not include whisky. We include whisky in our recipe because it makes the fruit so much plumper and moist. If you prefer, you can soak the fruit in orange juice instead - but the whisky does give a lovely flavour. At a pinch, you can leave out this part, but the cake will not be quite so moist. If you forget, then at least allow the fruit to soak for a couple of hours before baking the cake.

Many recipes for Dundee cake leave out any spices, but we couldn't resist adding cinnamon and nutmeg and the cake is a lovely treat with the extra spice.

The real mark of a Dundee cake is the decoration of almonds
in concentric circles on top of the cake.

We've tried two different ways of doing this. Most recipes call for putting blanched almonds on the cake before baking - but you can also place almonds on the top of the cake afterwards. In this case, you can toast the nuts first which gives them a lovely flavour.

The nuts don't stay on the cake all that well if you put them on afterwards. But in our opinion the flavour is superior. Technically you should use corn syrup to stick them on which probably works better. But we don't use corn syrup in our house any more as we prefer to use honey or maple syrup.

I've given directions for both ways.

Dundee Cake Recipe

Level: Easy
Time: 1 3/4 hours including baking
Plus 12 hours overnight soaking
Serves: 12

140g (1 cup) raisins
120g (1 cup) dried currants
70g (1/3 cup) diced mixed fruit peel
2 tbsp whisky
130g (2/3 cup) glace cherries
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
120g (1 cup) butter, softened
100g (1/2 cup) white sugar
90g (1/2 cup) soft brown sugar
4 eggs
320g (2 cups) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
30g (1/3 cup) ground almonds
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
100g (1 heaped cup) whole almonds
- blanched almonds if you wish to bake them on the cake or with the skins on if you prefer to add them after baking.
Honey, if you add the almonds after baking.

9" cake tin that is at least 3 inches deep. You can use an 8" tin with no problem. A spring form tin is best.

  • Measure out the raisins, dried currants and candied peel. Place in a small bowl and stir in the whisky. Cover the bowl and leave overnight to soak.

  • Prepare the cake tin. Grease the tin thoroughly and line the bottom of the tin with baking parchment.

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350, gas mark 4.

  • In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars together using a wooden spoon until light and fluffy. You can use a hand-held mixer if you prefer.

  • Add the eggs one at a time and beat until smooth.

  • Mix in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and ground almonds until fully incorporated.

  • Either grate the orange peel or zest the peel and then chop it (I think this is much easier than grating the peel). Add this to the soaked currants.

  • Chop the glace (candied) cherries into halves and add to the soaked currants.

  • Finally, add the soaked fruit to the cake mixture and stir until the fruit is distributed evenly.

  • Put the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth out the top.
  • If you would like to bake the cake with the almonds, then using blanched almonds, decorate the cake in concentric circles. Start at the edge and work your way round, pressing the almonds gently into the batter. Try to place the almonds the same small distance apart, and make sure they touch the edge of the tin in order to make the circle as perfect as possible. Then continue to place the almonds in a circle until you reach the centre.

  • Bake the cake in the centre of the pre-heated oven for an hour. After an hour, check to see if the cake is baked. Insert a knife into the cake and if it comes out clean or with just a few crumbs, the cake is ready. If the knife comes out sticky, return it to the oven for another 10-15 minutes.
  • If you are adding the almonds on after baking, spread the almonds on a baking sheet and bake them in the oven along with the cake for just five minutes at the beginning of the baking time. Allow the nuts to cool.

  • While the cake is still hot, brush the cake with honey and then place the almonds onto the cake in the circles as described above. The nuts will not sink into the cake at all - they will stand proud as you can see in the picture below, which shows a slice of cake when the nuts have been added afterwards.

    Leave the cake to go cold before serving (although I must say, it is lovely while still slightly warm - although it doesn't cut as well).

Serve with

Dundee cake is delicious with Earl Grey or English Breakfast. If you prefer herb tea, we love it with mint tea best.

I think a slice of Dundee cake is quite enough for tea in the afternoon - but if I did serve it as part of a spread, I would serve it with lovely thick ham sandwiches, English breakfast tea and buttermilk scones. I just don't see Dundee cake as a fancy afternoon tea cake. It's too delicious to eat on ceremony!! This would be a beautiful and down-to-earth Yorkshire afternoon tea spread (even if the cake is from Scotland.....).