Mrs Browns Dundee Cake, S had exclaimed when I had asked if he had any preferences for the cake we would be baking for Christmas.
So you want a Dundee cake ? I ask.
Not just any Dundee Cake, he had clarified. Mrs Browns Dundee Cake please. I can still taste the orange and smell the spices as if it were just yesterday.
Would you have the recipe ?
You know what, it must be in one of the old diaries. I distinctly remember we had scribbled the recipe Mrs Brown had dictated, complete with her cheats and tips, in a diary. The challenge is I don’t remember where that diary is.
Am I surprised ? Despite my honest endeavour, I cannot forgo the sarcastic taunt.
And thereby started the search.
Getting a needle in a haystack would have possibly been less onerous.
The lofts were rummaged furiously in hope of locating the mythical diary that had the recipe of Mrs Browns Dundee Cake.
Was she Scot ? I asked. As I flip through a mildewed diary, pages yellow with age.
Fiercely so, I answered. And oh boy, how proud was she of her Scottish lineage. And so quick to correct you if you referred to her as English.
Scottish, my dear boy. Not English.
It took me years though, S reminisces, to realise that Scotland Ireland and Wales were distinct from England. Proud people with their indigenous culture heritage and traditions.
And language, I chuckle.
It took hours of frenzied search, furious fights with dust that was feisty and obstinate and paroxysms of sneezing to finally find the right diary.
All for a recipe, I take a dig.
Mark my words, every bit the effort. The man counters.
Two days later, the cake baked, rested, sliced and devoured, I can vouch the labour hadn’t gone in vain.
It’s divine, I have no qualms acknowledging to the man.
He just smiles.
Mrs Browns Dundee Cake. From the wind-swept highlands of Scotland. The seductive sweet of orange marmalade. The fragrance of orange zest. A whiff of oriental spices. An overload of raisins and sultanas. Adorned with almonds. Finger-licking delicious !!!
And yes before I forget, a slice of the Dundee Cake is apparently the Queens tea-time favourite !!
- 200 g plain flour
- 25 g almond meal or ground almonds
- 5 tbsp orange marmalade
- 3 eggs
- 180 g unsalted butter at room temperature
- 130 g brown sugar
- 180 g raisins
- 180 g sultanas
- 80-90 g almonds
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp mixed spice powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- zest of 1 orange
- butter for greasing
For Mixed Spice Powder
- 1 tbsp all spice
- 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground mace
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp dry ginger
For Mixed Spice Powder
- Mix everything listed under 'For Mixed Spice Powder', store in an airtight container.
For Dundee Cake
- Take almonds in a bowl, pour boiling water over them. Keep covered for 5-7 minutes.
- After 5 odd minutes, drain from water, carefully remove the skins. Keep aside.
- Preheat the oven to 150C. Line a 8 inch cake tin with baking parchment, grease with butter.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, almond flour, mixed spice powder and salt. Keep aside.
- In a bowl take the butter and sugar. Cream the sugar and butter with an electric hand whisk until pale and fluffy.
- Add the marmalade and orange zest , beat until combined.
- Beat one egg into it, then add a third of the flour mix. Repeat until all the eggs and flour are consumed. Do not over-stir.
- Now add the raisins and sultana, mix gently with a spatula until all the fruits are incorporated into the mixture. Do not over mix.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared cake tin, smooth the top of it using the back of a wet spoon.
- Arrange the almonds on the top of the cake in concentric circles.
- Bake for 1.5 hours or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Remove the cake from the oven, allow to cool down in the tin itself.
- Remove from the tin, cover with a butter paper and keep aside in an airtight container for at least 24 hours before slicing.