Tea time in the UK is known for the cute finger sandwiches and scones. But, there’s also a lot of really yummy cakes made for tea as well. This Scottish Dundee cake has been popular for both tea times and for special occasions in Scotland and in England for generations. Some famous people who are rumored to have loved this cake are Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabeth II, and the Dalai Lama.
The first commercially-made Dundee cakes were sold in Scotland in the 1800s and since then they’ve become a staple dessert across the UK. The circles of blanched almonds on top may be have been a marketing ploy by the Keiller company, but it remains a signature of most Dundee cake recipes to this day. It is thought that the Keiller’s made the Dundee cake so popular because they had lots of leftover orange peel from making orange marmalade, their primary line of business in the 1700s.
This cake is dense, sweet, moist, and versatile. You can put whichever fruits you like in the batter. For these photos I used a combination of cranberries, dried cherries, and chopped dates. But, I could also see dried apricots, dried blueberries, prunes, or dried apples working well, too.
In addition to the almonds on top there are lovely Maraschino cherries in the batter, creating that wonderful almond cherry flavor combination. In fact, it’s so good that I’d love to make a cake with only cherries and almonds one day soon.
To enhance the almond flavor a glaze made with almond extract gets brushed on the top before the last few minutes of baking. It gives the almonds a nice sheen, too.
For a special treat that you can adapt to suit a variety of tastes this Scottish Dundee cake is ideal. And, it’s a great dessert for just about any occasion.
8h 40m prep time
1h 32m cook time
For the cake:
- 1/2 cup whole blanched almonds
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
- zest of 1 orange
- 3 tablespoons apricot jam or orange marmalade
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons whole milk
- 16 oz mixed dried fruit
- 4 oz Maraschino cherries without stems
For the glaze:
- 1 tablespoon warm milk
- 2 teaspoons powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- Add almonds to a small bowl of just-boiled water. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, then drain using a mesh sieve or colander.
- Preheat oven to 350˚F. Cream together sugar and butter. Mix until fluffy then blend in orange zest and jam. Blend in eggs one at a time.
- In another bowl mix together flours, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet, adding milk last. Fold in fruit.
- Pour batter into a lined 8" baking dish with deep sides, such as a spring form pan. Use metal binder clips to keep parchment in place while pan is being filled. Remove clips before baking. Level batter with back of spoon. Add almonds on top in circle pattern. Bake for 45 minutes then reduce heat to 320˚F. Bake for an additional 45 minutes. Cover part way through baking if top browns too quickly.
- Remove cake from pan. Combine warm milk with sugar until sugar melts. Add almond extract to glaze. Brush glaze over top of cake then return to oven for 3 minutes. Allow to cool in pan overnight before slicing and serving.
Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food.