Wednesday, July 26

{ a delightfully delicious Dundee cake }

I have always thought that fruit cakes get a bit of a raw deal. They're not the prettiest of cakes, have a reputation for being dry, and heavy, not to mention full of candied peel - have you ever met anyone who likes candied peel? - and usually only get thought about at Christmas time. And lets face it, even then they're likely to be overlooked in favour of the mince pies and yule log. Admittedly they wouldn't be my first choice out in a tea room or coffee shop. Not that I have seen many, if any, in tea rooms and coffee shops, forgotten about amongst the more fashionable layer cakes, brownies and banana loaves.

And yet I have quite fond memories of them. There would always be freshly baked cake at home when I was younger, and a simple fruit cake took it's turn with the equally classic Victoria Sandwich, chocolate or coffee sponge cakes, or lemon drizzle. Never ever made with candied peel (yay, thank you mum) but full of currants, raisins and sultanas, it's a comfort blanket of a cake. Perfect with a cup of tea, and one of those cakes it almost feels ok to enjoy a slice of everyday.

It's also the cake I remember us taking on picnics. Individual slices wrapped in foil, to be enjoyed after the, slightly soggy, salmon sandwiches. And so it was a fruit cake that I turned to when looking for a treat to bake to take with us on our journey to Scotland last year. The Dundee cake has it's origins in Scotland, produced by the marmalade company Keiller's, and is said to be a favourite of the Queen's. Baking a Dundee cake to take to Scotland may seem like taking coals to Newcastle, but I had a feeling that it wouldn't be something we'd see on offer there, and if it's good enough for the Queen, it's good enough for us.

Now there are so many different Dundee cake recipes out there, and the original is no doubt lost somewhere in the sands of time. I'm not sure how I stumbled upon it, but the recipe I chose was Dan Lepard's, whose recipe featured in The Guardian. No whiskey, which I'm not averse to, but didn't have any, and didn't want to buy especially for this, and more importantly, no candied peel (yay, thank you Dan).

This is such a lovely cake to make. I made two smaller cakes, and if my memory serves me correctly I soaked the fruit overnight in the juice and zest from the orange. This makes the fruit lovely and plump, and will eradicate any memory of dry and mealy fruit cakes of the past.

Do try and make this cake a little ahead of when you're planning on eating it. Like most fruit cakes it tastes even better a few days after baking it. Just wrap it up tightly in parchment, pop it away in the pantry, and forget about it for a little while.

{ recipe credit . Dan Lepard }

I remember now why this is a perfect picnic cake. It travels well, no worrying about messy frosting, or curdling cream, just unwrap, cut a slice, and settle back with a cup of tea and watch the world go by. Ah, happy memories. And a reminder that perhaps I need to plan a little train journey, just for the excuse of baking this again.

{ have a happy day }

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. thank you for taking the time to scribble down your thoughts . i lOve reading All your musings .