Authentic Dundee Cake

An official Dundee recipe for traditional Dundee Cake

Authentic Dundee Cake

Dundee Cake is instantly recognisable, it’s those concentric rings of whole almonds radiating out like ripples on a loch.

You see those almonds and you know what you are going to get: a light/medium fruitcake of Scottish origin.

Have you ever considered its name though? What does it have to do with Dundee?

A lot more than you probably think! Dundee Cake is intrinsically linked to the city that gives it its name, a story that goes right back to the 1700s and the industrial manufacture of marmalade.

Dundee Cake was born in the kitchens of Janet Keiller, who is famed for developing the Marmalade we know todayand, if you are like me, crave on buttered toast like it was the only conserve on earth!

The surplus Seville orange peel from the production of Keillers marmalade was used to flavour the cake, along with Spanish almonds and Spanish sultanas.

These exotic ingredients were conveniently available from trade ships visiting Dundee’s thriving port from Spain, often laden with Sherry.

The combination of these Spanish provisions and Scottish baking traditions created an enduringly popular cake, even Queen Elizabeth is said to be a fan.

Traditional Dundee Cake

The Queen is not the only fan either, I have a deep affection for this cake. I remember it from childhood, and now, in more recent years, Dundee has been the place I most consider ‘home’– a city that draws me back from my wanderings. It gives me great joy to share this recipe. 

Dundee Cake should be pale and buttery, generously studded with juicy sultanas, and the citrus flavour of the Seville oranges should add a ray of Spanish sunshine to your afternoon tea break.

Those whole almonds on the top of the cake provide more than just decoration, they add a most delicious crunch – they’re always the bit I save for last!

The most important ingredient, the one that most harks back to those glory days of marmalade production and the origins of this cake, is Seville orange. It’s the bitter orange fragrance that gives Dundee Cake its individual character.

Traditional Dundee Cake
In the bakeries of Dundee, the Dundee Cakes are made with a concentrated Seville orange ‘jam’, probably similar to the tins of prepared Seville oranges that you can find in the supermarkets for making your own marmalade.

My mum used to buy this, to thriftily keep up with our demands for marmalade – the smell of it bubbling away used to pervade every room in the house!

I’ve used a fruit-rich Seville orange marmalade in this recipe instead, it makes it much more homebaker-friendly: I found an excellent 40% fruit Spanish marmalade in one of the supermarkets here in Dundee, which has been perfect for the job.
Dundee PanoramaOver the years the name Dundee Cake has come to represent any light fruit cake (topped with almonds), often quite different to the original recipe with the additions of – most commonly – cherries, spices, and mixed fruit.

An application has been made to give Dundee Cake Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status, to protect the recipe from imitation within the EU. This would mean that a Dundee Cake can only be made in Dundee, and it must conform to the ingredients specified in the PGI.

Obviously, for homebakers like us, we can’t all travel up to Dundee whenever we want to bake a Dundee Cake – although I wholly recommend a trip, it’s a fabulous little city!

We can however be true to the roots of Dundee Cake and make it along the PGI ingredient guidelines, to get a true experience of how an authentic Dundee Cake should taste.

Ditch those cherries, forget the spices: this is proper Dundee Cake, and it’s glorious!

Traditional Dundee Cake
The only ingredients allowed according to the PGI application for Dundee cake are as follows: salted butter, sugar (caster, granulated, light or dark soft brown), free-range eggs, thick peel Seville oranges (concentrated or other), finely grated orange zest, plain cake flour,  sherry (optional), ground almonds (optional), sultanas, whole blanched almonds or split almonds (optional decorative alternative for non-circular cakes) and citric acid (preservative).

Authentic Dundee Cake

You may notice in this recipe that is no other raising agent except the eggs – no baking powder or self-raising flour, fear not, the cake rises! 

Grease and line a 20cm round deep cake tin with baking parchment.

Preheat oven to 150ºC / gas 2 / 300ºF

  • 175 g salted butter
  • 175 g caster sugar or light muscovado sugar (I make it with golden caster)
  • 4 tbsp Seville orange marmalade (or 1 tbsp concentrated Seville orange ‘jam’)
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange, preferably Seville if in season.
  • 3 free-range eggs, beaten
  • 225 g plain flour
  • 400 g sultanas
  • 30 g ground almonds
  • 50 g (approx) whole blanched almonds to decorate

Cream the butter and sugar for 3 or 4 minutes until pale and fluffy using an electric mixer.

Slowly beat in the beaten eggs a bit at a time, add a little flour to prevent the batter curdling.

Mix in the Seville orange marmalade and the orange zest.

Sift the plain flour into the batter then add the ground almonds, and mix well.

Stir in the sultanas to distribute evenly throughout the batter.

Transfer to the lined cake tin and level the top with the back of a spoon.

Make rings around the top of the cake with the whole blanched almonds, placing them lightly.

Bake the cake for 1 hr 45 mins to 2 hours, a cake tester should come out cleanly if the cake is cooked. If the cake looks like it’s browning too much, cover with a little foil. Also, if the oven is too hot the cake will crack.

Allow to cool in the tin for ten minutes then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.

The cake keeps well for a few weeks in an airtight container.

A slice of Dundee Cake goes perfectly with a cup of tea or coffee, and it’s a common fixture on afternoon tea cake stands.

I’ve made rather a few of these cakes over the last couple of weeks, and I can also confirm Dundee Cake makes a handy breakfast on the run too – it has marmalade in it after all!

Traditional Dundee Cake

Authentic Dundee Cake
An authentic Dundee Cake made with the ingredients the original Dundee cakes were made with.
Print
Ingredients
  1. 175 g salted butter
  2. 175 g caster sugar or light muscovado sugar
  3. 4 tbsp Seville orange marmalade (or 1 tbsp concentrated Seville orange ‘jam’)
  4. Finely grated zest of 1 orange, preferably Seville if in season.
  5. 3 free-range eggs, beaten
  6. 225 g plain flour
  7. 400 g sultanas
  8. 30 g ground almonds
  9. 50 g (approx) whole blanched almonds to decorate
Instructions
  1. Grease and line a 20cm round deep cake tin with baking parchment.
  2. Preheat oven to 150ºC / gas 2 / 300ºF
  3. Cream the butter and sugar for 3 or 4 minutes until pale and fluffy using an electric mixer.
  4. Slowly beat in the beaten eggs a bit at a time, add a little flour to prevent the batter curdling.
  5. Mix in the Seville orange marmalade and the orange zest.
  6. Sift the plain flour into the batter then add the ground almonds, and mix well.
  7. Stir in the sultanas to distribute evenly throughout the batter.
  8. Transfer to the lined cake tin and level the top with the back of a spoon.
  9. Make rings around the top of the cake with the whole blanched almonds, placing them lightly.
  10. Bake the cake for 1 hr 45 mins to 2 hours, a cake tester should come out cleanly if the cake is cooked. If the cake looks like it’s browning too much, cover with a little foil. Also, if the oven is too hot the cake will crack.
  11. Allow to cool in the tin for ten minutes then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.
Notes
  1. You may notice in this recipe that is no other raising agent except the eggs – no baking powder or self-raising flour, fear not, the cake rises!
Vagabond Baker http://vagabondbaker.com/
Traditional Dundee Cake

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By Rachel A Davis   Follow on Bloglovin

Have you eaten Dundee Cake, how different do you think it was from this?

4 Responses

  1. Looks great. The almonds should give it a nice crunch, thanks a lot
    Keith @ How’s it Lookin? recently posted…Chocolate Mousse Tart RecipeMy Profile

  2. Kasha says:

    Oh my goodness, this looks delicious, Rachel! I’ve never tried Dundee Cake, but I really want some now! 🙂

    Kasha xxx
    Kasha recently posted…Review: Cathedral View Guest House, LincolnMy Profile

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