Dundee Cake

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Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


Appears in

The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook

The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook

By Annie Gray

Published 2019

  • About

Miss M. M. Mitchell, author of The Treasure Cookery Book, published in 1913, was the superintendent of the Polytechnic School of Cookery on London’s Oxford Street. Her recipes are clear and easy to follow, and she continued to write during the Great War, advising girls who had little knowledge of cooking on how to get started. When Sybil bakes a cake for the first time in season 2, she’s echoing the experience of many women who threw themselves into learning new things. For Sybil, as with so many women of the era, the war changed everything: cakes were merely the tip of the iceberg. Dundee cake was promoted heavily by Keiller’s, a Scottish marmalade company, who mass-produced it. Its almond-studded top appears regularly at teas and fairs in Downton Abbey.


  • 1 lb (450 g) mixed golden and dark raisins
  • 6 tablespoons (90 ml) Scotch whisky
  • 1 cup (225 g) butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
  • 1 cup (225 g) firmly packed Demerara sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 eggs
  • cups (285 g) flour
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (115 g) ground almonds
  • ½ cup (160 g) orange marmalade
  • Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
  • cup (90 g) whole blanched almonds, for decorating


Put the raisins and the whisky into a pan and heat over low heat, stirring once or twice, until hot, 10–15 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to steep for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). Grease a 9-inch (23-cm) round cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the parchment.

In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer on medium speed or a wooden spoon, cream together the butter, sugar, and salt until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, together with a spoonful of the flour with the first egg to stop the mix from curdling, mixing well after each addition. Then beat in the remaining flour and the cinnamon and nutmeg until incorporated. Finally, stir in the raisins and whisky, the ground almonds, marmalade, and orange zest until evenly distributed.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with the back of the spoon. Arrange the whole blanched almonds on top in concentric circles, with the pointed end of each nut directed toward the center. Bake until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 1½–1¾ hours.

Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, then carefully turn out the cake, peel off the parchment, turn the cake upright, and serve. This is a fairly dense cake that can be made a few days in advance and stored tightly covered at room temperature.

MRS. PATMORE: Now steady. Even the most experienced cook can burn themself if they’re not careful.

SYBIL: Do you think it’s ready?

MRS. PATMORE: I know it’s ready.

DAISY: Go on. You don’t want to spoil it.


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