O.k. It seems like corks were just popping on New Year’s Eve and BAM...next thing I know we’ve nearly reached the end of January! Indeed the 25th will be happening this Sunday. So what is the significance of January 25th you might ask. Well, throughout the world, though especially in Scotland, folks will be celebrating with a Burns Night Supper to mark the occasion. Robert Burns, who is regarded as the National Poet of Scotland, was born on that day in 1759. I’m quite a Burns fan myself and will certainly be raising my glass to The Bard this weekend. I have given you some great Scottish recipes in the past in case you might be planning a Burn’s Night Supper of you own. Last year it was Scotch Egg Pie, which is a type of meat pie that has spicy sausage surrounding an inner circle of hard-boiled eggs all wrapped up in a buttery flaky pie crust.
The year before I shared Cock-a-leekie soup
which I served with delicious, crusty Struan. Struan, also known as Celtic Harvest Bread, is thought to have taken its name from a town in Western Scotland called Struanmoor, on the Isle of Skye. It was originally enjoyed once a year as a harvest bread, using whatever grains were available from the previous day’s harvest. This is my absolute favourite bread, so it is almost always available in my house. It toasts up particularly brilliantly.
The year before that it was Deviled Scotch Eggs.
And I had also previously given you the traditional Scotch Egg recipe. If you don’t know what Scotch Eggs are, believe me it is time that you find out! Basically it is a hard-boiled egg encased in sausage and then deep-fried. Good Lord Have Mercy!
So I have already set the bar pretty high for myself when it comes to Scottish delicacies for your Burn’s Night Supper. Nevertheless, I think I’ve risen to the challenge yet again. This year I’m going to turn my attention from the savory to the sweet. I’ve got a great Scottish dessert I’d like to share with you, Dundee Cake with Hot Whisky Marmalade Sauce. Now I bet that’s got you drooling huh?
Dundee Cake is a famous traditional Scottish fruit cake which hales from…bet you guessed it already huh? Yup…Dundee. You see, there is a famous marmalade company, Keiller’s, which is located in Dundee and they are credited with developing this recipe in the 19th Century. Actually, there is a chance that although they popularized this cake at that time, the recipe is much older, dating back to the 16th century perhaps. The legend goes that Mary Queen of Scots did not like glace cherries in her cakes. I can’t say I blame her. I think those things are quite suspicious to say the least. So the classic fruit cake recipe was somewhat altered for her and a cake was made without the usual cherries, but with blanched almonds instead.
Dundee Cake is often served at Christmas time throughout the British Isles, but definitely in Scotland. Indeed, recently the town of Dundee has put in a bid to have Dundee Cake awarded a Protected Geographical Indicator Status from the European Commission. That will prevent anyone who is not from Dundee from selling a cake labeled as Dundee Cake. You know, it is like Champagne. Champagne is only bottled in Champagne France. If it is produced in any other locale, it is not Champagne and needs to be called Sparkling wine. If the Dundee Cake is awarded PGI status, consumers will have 100% guarantee of its authenticity and confidence that they will enjoy all of the unique characteristics that have long been associated with this type of cake traditionally made in Dundee.
So what is this cake like? Well, it is delicious of course! And don’t even start raising your eyebrows and giving me that “are you kidding me… it is a fruit cake” kind of face. Unlike many fruitcakes you might have encountered in the past that were most likely used as a door stop rather than eaten, this cake is light and buttery with a touch spice and warm citrus notes. Not to mention that it is chock full of juicy, whisky soaked fruit and festooned with circles of almonds.
Notice I spelled whisky properly here. When referring to Scotch, there is no “e” in whisky. And speaking of whisky, don’t forget that each slice of this moist, rich cake should be served with a generous pour of Hot Whiskey Marmalade Sauce and topped with a dollop of whipped cream. Yum! It will change everything you thought you knew about fruitcakes! I hope I have inspired you to host a Burns Night Supper of your own or at least to raise a wee dram and drink a toast to Scotland’s Favourite Son this Sunday.
Dundee Cake with Hot Whisky Marmalade Sauce
recipe slightly adapted from: Epicurious
For the Cake:
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice*
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons Scotch whisky (plus more for soaking fruit)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup golden raisins
- 3/4 cup dark raisins
- 3/4 cup dried currants
- 1/3 cup chopped candied orange peel (I used mixed candied peel from King Arthur Flour)
- 2 tablespoons orange marmalade
- Whole blanched almonds (Can’t find pre-blanched almonds in the store? No problem. See instructions below**.)
For the Hot Whisky Sauce:
- 2/3 cup orange marmalade
- 3 tablespoons whisky
- 4 oranges
Freshly whipped cream for serving.
For the cake:
The night prior to baking, place the raisins and currants in a bowl. Pour enough whisky over fruit to cover it. Allow fruit to soak overnight. This is an optional step, but I believe that it not only allows the fruit to plump up a bit, but it gives it a wonderful boozy flavour!
Preheat oven to 300°F. Butter 8-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides; line bottom with parchment paper. You could also use a springform pan or if your 8″ cake round does not have 2″ high sides, line the sides with parchment paper to gain the 2″ height. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and spice into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, whisky, and grated orange peel in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Stir in dry ingredients, then all dried fruits and candied peel. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
Bake cake 1 hour. Remove cake from oven. Brush top with 2 tablespoons marmalade. Arrange almonds around edge, pressing lightly to adhere. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes longer. Cool cake completely in pan on rack. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover; store at room temperature.) Turn cake out of pan; peel off parchment. Place upright on plate.
For the Whisky Sauce:
Combine marmalade and whisky in medium saucepan. Cut all peel and white pith from oranges. Working over bowl to catch juices, cut between membranes, releasing orange segments. Add 2 tablespoons orange juice from bowl to saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until marmalade melts and sauce is heated through, about 5 minutes. Transfer sauce to serving bowl.
Serve cake with warm sauce, orange segments, and whipped cream.
Dundee Cake with Hot Whisky Marmalade Sauce brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)
*Don’t have pumpkin pie spice?: Pumpkin pie spice is a combination of mostly cinnamon, with some ginger, allspice and nutmeg added into the mix. This recipe only calls for 1/8 tsp. of the spice. You could just add a dash of the above spices and call it a day.
**How to blanch almonds: Take raw unsalted almonds and drop them in boiling water. Allow them to boil for 60 seconds, but no longer. Remove almonds to a colander and rinse them with cold water. Blot them dry with a paper towel. The skins can easily be removed at this point by simply squeezing the almond between your fingers. Let the almonds dry entirely. Voila! You now have blanched almonds ready to use in this recipe.