December is here!!! The air is cool and crisp, and all though i do complain a little when it gets too dry, i L-O-V-E the month of December. So, what better to do than to start the month with baking this rich and delicious fruit cake. I have been planning to bake this cake for the longest of time. Somehow, one or the other ingredient never seem to be in my pantry every time and so finally here it is....the famous Scottish Dundee cake. Yes, i finally baked it, but quite coincidentally i ran short of blanched almonds. As i was about to transfer my cake into the cake pan, i realized the prepared pan as suggested in the recipe was way too small, and so when i transferred it to a bigger baking pan, there was not enough almonds to decorate the top of the cake...sigh!!@#
Anyway, despite the obvious facial defect, the cake turned out amazing. This cake has a very interesting history, and was in the news in the recent past for a EU name status. Dundee cake is truly a fruit cake of all fruit cakes, it is a rich, buttery, creamy, sweet and ah! rummy as fruit cake should be, ought to be, must be. This definitely is one of the cake to indulge in during the holiday season.
As you can see, this cake uses Almonds, ground and blanched. Not being a very big fan of almonds, i have avoided recipes that call for almond meal/ground almonds, despite whatever rave reviews people may have about the cake. Somehow i just could not pass this one off as it was just too pretty. And now that i have made and tasted it, i guess i kinda know what the ga..ga..over cakes made with almond is about. the ground almonds added a nice creamy flavor to the cake, and the blanched almonds a nice crunch to the cake. Just loved it!
Christmas baking, for me, is all about loads of rum, loads of dried fruits soaked in rum and then some. The recipe i followed for this cake did not soak the dried fruits in rum, but some recipes of the same cake do, so i had to, just had to put the dried fruit beauties in a cup of rum to let it soak up some of the heady goodness. There really is something really addictive about baking with rum..hick! hick!!!
Another exciting ingredient in baking with fruits, dried or fresh, is the use of the zest. I loved the zing punch, that the zest of the orange added to this cake...with all the goodness that make a great cake in one...this cake is an absolute must bake. Bake this baby and it is "ding dong merrily on high"!!
I used Jaggery in the recipe, as this was readily available in my pantry. If you are familiar with Jaggery, you will know that there are two varieties, dark and light. As you can see, i used the dark variety which has a pretty deep and distinct flavor, as well as smell. While making the cake batter i was a little apprehensive of the cake being overpowered by this flavor, but the fear was unfounded as the marriage of the ingredients once baked, was just absolutely awesome. If using, make sure you crumble the sugar into the butter, as this variety easily cakes up, and you definitely do not want small granules of it in your cake once baked. Perchance you are not a fan of it, then by all means use damerara sugar, it should work just fine.
As with all cakes, and the nature of the passing down of recipes, my little spin to this cake is by steeping the cake with a couple of tablespoons of dark rum while it was resting. You may tell me, no way!! not original!! Well...it is, the way it is. Doing so makes for a super moist, glorious smelling cake. Rum rules!!! :D Here is the detailed recipe.
150 g - Plain Flour ( 1 Cup levelled)
150 g - Pale Muscovado Sugar ( I used dark jeggery)
1 Tsp - Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp - Cinnamon Powder
1/4 Tsp - Nutmeg, grated
50 g - Ground Almonds
150 g - Soft Butter
4 - Large Eggs
100 g each - Raisins, Sultanas & Currants ( I used only 50 g of each when i made this cake and realized it needed more, so use 100 g or even up to 150 g if you can)
1 Tbsp - Rum to be added to the cake batter
1 Cup - Rum for soaking the dry fruits, once the dry fruits are drained, use some of it for steeping the cake
1 Cup - Blanched Almonds for the topping (blanch the almonds by soaking it in boiling water, covered, for a couple of minutes and then just rub the skins off)
Preheat the oven to 150 degree C. Grease a 22 cm cake pan and keep aside.
Sift the flour, baking powder and the spices together into a bowl and keep aside.
Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and keep aside.
Cream the butter and the jaggery together until it is well combined and fluffy.
Add the eggs and the flour mixture alternately into the creamed butter and sugar, mixing slowly.
Add the zest of the orange and 1 Tbsp rum into the batter and mix to combine.
Gently fold in the ground almonds and also the dried fruits after draining it.
Spoon the cake mix into the greased cake pan, tap the pan to even out the batter inside the pan, and arrange the blanched almonds in neat circles on the top.
Place the cake in the lower rack of the oven and bake it for 30 mins or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
Once done, let the cake cool inside the pan until the base is cool enough handle. Steep the cake with the rum used for soaking the dry fruits at this stage, although you can avoid it altogether if you don't want too much alcohol in your cake.
Carefully transfer it onto a plate and let it cool further for a couple of minutes.
All you have to do then is to cut a generous slice and serve. Enjoy with a nice cup of tea. Keep the cake covered to keep it moist.