Thursday, 3 October 2013

Dundee cake

" the way," said next eldest sister as we wrapped up our telephone consultation about Kitty's earache, "my friend Sarah says that she reads your blog. So it'll now be spreading like wildfire through St Thomas's prep school in Fulham."

And I like to encourage these things so I thought I would do a special post to say:


(now you all stick your hands in the air and scream)

I must say I don't really understand West London. That's not to say I don't like it, I just don't understand it. Whenever I go there I always seem to end up at the wrong end of a very long road lined with identical houses, stopping shaggy-haired Sloanes to ask for directions. 

I am assured by people who know these things that people who live in West London live there partly because they have houses in the countryside in a westerly direction and living so close to the M40 makes making a break for it on a Friday less hellish. 

It is probably prejudiced of me to assume that everyone living in West London is a shaggy-haired Sloane who disappears to Gloucestershire from Friday-Sunday every week, but this blog is nothing if not a collection of sloppily-applied prejudices. If you disagree with me, feel free to express yourself in the comments section. 

But I really do think that my new reader(s) might appreciate this recipe for Dundee cake, which is the technical term for the fruitcake that my mother has been making once a week for the last 20 years. It is very light and crumbly and popular with most children. It also keeps very well, so handy to make on a Thursday and take to the countryside for the weekend. You know. Just if you happen to be going. 

Dundee cake

Pre-heat your oven to 150C. 

For this you need an 18-20cm tin. This is important. I used a tin that was far too large and the cake came out quite flat and therefore slightly overcooked (although still delicious). So do, please, source a correctly-sized tin - or double the quantities for a larger tin. If you grease and line your tin, you will make your life considerably easier for yourself along the line. 

170g butter
200g self-raising flour
140g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 cup glace cherries
500g mixed dried fruit - this can be anything you like, raisins, currants, mixed peel, chopped apricots and dates. Go wild. 

1 Cream the butter and the sugar together.

2 Separately whisk the eggs and then add to the butter and sugar in short bursts. I have never managed not to curdle this and neither, my mother tells me unapologetically, has she. So if it curdles don't worry.

3 Fold in the flour with a metal spoon.

4 Tip in the mixed dried fruit and glace cherries, stir to combine. As with any cake, only stir until the ingredient is reasonably evenly distributed and then stop so as to ensure a light and crumbly texture

5 Put this into your appropriately-sized tin.

6 Now put this in your 150C oven for 2 hours. If you, y'know, happened to have an Aga, you can cook it in the simmering oven for 2.5hrs. I know that seems like a long time but that's the way with some kinds of cake.

7 This is very nice on its own, or it is extra-terrific with a lemon icing, made with sieved icing sugar (the sieving is very important) and the juice of one lemon.

Eat with a cup of tea while making a list of all the shite you need to pack up for the weekend, idly wondering if two houses is really worth all the bloody hassle.


  1. Nuts? (as in: "possible in the cake?", not: "you are..." You're not. well, perhaps a teeny bit but no more than is normal in a parent of toddlers) Althought they might make it a bit christmas-cakey. Bizarrely, I had a dream about St Thomas's last night. TIME TO LEAVE LONDON, I think, when you start dreaming about the prep schools.

  2. I make dundee cake(s) every year for xmas and treat them like a Xmas cake by making well in advance and feeding with whisky - then it is REALLY good. I was going to say that my family is from Dundee (not me though) but I don't think that has any bearing on whether I can make a cake or not but may have a lot to do with why i believe a cake is essentially an alcoholic sponge.

  3. I nearly choked on my cup of tea as I had just been in the midst of making a list of things to pack up for the weekend (dog, hamster, cake tin etc), when I decided to take some time out and read your post. It's not really worth all the hassle, frankly, especially if you live in north London (like all right-thinking people) but maybe the Dundee cake will be.

  4. Oooh lovely YES to Dundee cake. My mum's from Fulham, but the bit where people who don't have two houses live. Your recent posts have been stoking my baking envy as I am unable to bake at the moment due to the lack of scales (battery dead, where the hell do you buy circular lithium batteries in Belgium, why didn't I just buy a proper scale, John Lewis offers v cheap international delivery...). Please continue! Kitty must be very popular at nursery!

  5. This dundee cake is one of the easy and lovely cake recipes that i have seen. Overall it's good to make on a romantic date.

  6. IF I lived in Flaaaarm, and IF I had 2 houses, I think this would be a great cake for the weekend. I don't do either but I still might make this.

  7. I promise there are some normal people in Fulham, we don't all still wear velvet headbands, have our collars turned up and wear pink lipstick...... If we love your blog we must have quite a bit in common....Fulham really is a great place to live with kids just like your neighbourhood

  8. Having grown up in Ealing I would always say West is best. I never did weekend jaunts to the countryside and I make the assumption about countryside weekenders all living in Clapham myself. I do love a fruit cake but would swap the glace cherries for something else.

  9. We live in Ealing too. Proper West is best. Going to have a go at the cake this month, it seems like a good autumn-y thing to have around.

  10. I lived in West London once and it was exactly as your prejudices imagined. Kids called Wolf Filofax and Melba Toast wearing clothes with holes in despite being wealthier than Onasis. The lady that owned the house where I rented a room had a weekend place in the country. She was in to yoga and meditation, you couldn’t get a decent cup of tea in the house just all Rooibos and shit. We went to her place in the country once and she forgot her shoes, cash/bank card and toothbrush but she did pack her meditation mat, two fairy costumes and a huge pair of antlers. Too rich to think about packing. Maybe if she had taken her time over Dundee Cake she might have remembered some shoes.

  11. Gosh this looks good! Never tried Dundee cake before but will be making it for my Italian friends!!

  12. Just a quick little question. Is that a round tin or a square one?? I have a round one, but would be quite happy to do a bit of retail therapy in the John Lewis kitchen department if I now need a square one.

  13. Yes, that was my questions as well - square or round tin? Is it important?