Dundee whisky cake

It’s been a little while, but it’s also been five days since I did this bake and ten days since I meant to bake this cake.

Not every bake in this bakebook has a little blurb explanation about the bake, but this one does. And I shall share it with you:

Not as rich or heavy as a traditional dark fruit cake, this cake dates from the seventeenth century when it was a favourite at the court of Mary Queen of Scots. There are no cherries in this cake because the Queen (reportedly) disliked them. The cake’s flavour depends on leaving the dried vine fruits to macerate in whisky overnight, and allowing the baked cake to mature for several days before cutting.

I was all prepared ten days ago to bake this cake, but then I read that little nugget, as well as step one, and I realized I needed to soak the dried raisins and currants (which required me to go to two different bulk stores) in whisky* (which I found quite easily) overnight.

The next day I had plans.

As well as the next night.

And each night after that until a whole five days later I finally had free time.

Five days of dried fruit macerating in whisky.

That’s a lot of whiskiness.

(“Whiskiness” seems like a cat food brand for alcoholic felines.)

When I finally got around to baking the cake, I started with the flour.

Flour that needed to be sifted with baking powder, salt, and ground almonds.

Then I beat the butter (softened via a microwave that I realized desperately needs cleaning) until it was creamy before adding the sugar (which should be light brown muscovado but is just standard brown sugar).

Those needed to be beaten “until the mixture is very light in colour and texture.”

It didn’t seem that light because I used a darker brown sugar, but I figured it was done.

Also can everyone just take a moment to appreciate my new mixer? I got it from Amazon on Black Friday and was very excited to have a new handheld mixer because mine was a hand-me-down. And then I opened up the box and there was only one whisk attachment. I checked the box several times and I only got one with it. I should contact Black and Decker or Amazon, but my hand-me-down mixer still had usable whisk attachments and they fit, so I’m just using those.

The only downside is they don’t fit in the hand storage case.

But that’s okay.

Again, I should probably complain or make a fuss or demand retribution, but I have something that works just fine and I’d rather not have them ship one single whisk attachment to me. Greta Thunberg would not approve.

(She also wouldn’t approve of my Black Friday shopping in the first place. Sorry, Greta! I am trying to be better, I swear.)

With the sugar and butter mixed together, I could slowly add the beaten eggs, one tablespoon at a time.

Really they should say “one viscous glop at a time.”

With the mixture ready, I alternated between folding in half of the flour followed by half of the drunken fruit followed by half of the flour and half of the drunken fruits.

In case you were wondering, it got really hard to mix. This is not a light batter. This is a hardy, Scottish cake after all.

Oh I forgot to mention something else that was in the drunken fruit soak: chopped mixed peel. I did find that at the first bulk store, though. And I have about half a cup still that I don’t know what to do with but I can’t throw away. I’ll find a use for it. (If you have any ideas, please comment and tell me!)

With it all mixed together (and my arm that much stronger), I put it into the prepared tin and smoothed out the top, adding a little dent in the centre so it rises evenly. (Or so I was told.)

I then dipped my fingers in cold water and pressed them lightly over the surface of the cake. Apparently “this will prevent the crust from becoming too hard.”

I was then supposed to press 18 blanched almond halves into concentric circles, but I found sliced almonds in my cupboard and went far above 18.

This is where the instructions got weird.

Tie a folded newspaper around the outside of the tin, then set the tin on top of another folded newspaper on the baking sheet (doing this will prevent the outside of the cake from over-baking).

First of all, I don’t have newspaper. I don’t get a daily news to my door.

Second of all, what?

Is that even safe? To put newspaper in a 350-degree oven? It seems questionable at best. Especially when the cake is in there for over two hours.

Instead of newspaper, I went with foil.

Foil does fine.

Also later in the recipe it says to add foil to the top in case it starts to get too dark.

Don’t know why they couldn’t just do foil instead of newspaper.

Unless they’re trying to be very seventeenth-century about it.

But just because that’s how it was done, doesn’t mean that’s how it should be done.

So with the foil-wrapped cake in the oven, I let it bake for 40 minutes before turning down the temperature and baking it for another hour and a half.

I checked regularly to see if it was done. I added foil to the top when it got too dark. I poked it with toothpicks and took it out when the toothpick was clean.

Cut to five days later (which should have been one week, but then most of my coworkers would be on Christmas vacation), and I brought it into the office.

I sliced it up, telling people that if they didn’t like it, they didn’t have to eat it. Fruit cake is not a favourite of mine, and I wasn’t sure I’d even like it.

Turns out I did! As did everyone else. One person likened it to stollen. Another happily answered my call to take the last pieces so I wouldn’t have to bring them home and eat them. It was more like a raisin cake than classic fruit cake with those gross gummy fruits in them.

All in all, a good recipe.

I’d make it again for another festive season.

*About the whisky. I’m not a connoisseur of whisky but I have had Jameson before so that’s what I got. It was only today, when talking to a Scottish co-worker, that I realized I should’ve purchased Dundee whisky. I thought the cake was from Dundee, not the whisky.

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