For the longest time, to me, English cake was synonymous with Christmas cake which was synonymous with Fruitcake.An English/Christmas/Fruit cake topped with whole almonds makes it a Scottish Dundee cake.
But apparently there are differences I am not aware of between the lot, despite their many similarities.
This cake cannot be made at the spur of the moment, and demands patience and respect.
First off, I made my own candied citrus peels based on my orangettes. That took a day.
Then, the medley of fruits (candied, dried, zests, and juice) needs to macerate preferably overnight in the fridge. That’s another day.
Making the cake needs about 15 minutes of hands on time. Arranging the almonds on top takes about another 10 or so minutes.
Then the baking. A solid two to three hours.
The pay-off? An incredibly dense and fragrant cake, of which you cannot eat more than one thin slice at a time, lasts for weeks if properly stored, and just gets better with time.
From The Book of Afternoon Tea.
1 1/4 cup sultanas
1 1/4 cup raisins
1/3 cup chopped candied citrus peel
1/3 cup halved glacé cherries
1/2 cup powdered almonds
1 orange, grated zest only
1 lemon, grated zest only
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1/2 tsp powdered cloves
1/4 tsp powdered nutmeg
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp almond essence
1/3 cup unsweetened apple juice
1 cup butter, soft
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp milk
In a non-reactive bowl (preferably ceramic or porcelain), put the
sultanas, raisins, chopped candied citrus peel, halved glacé cherries, powdered almonds, orange zest,lemon zest, powdered ginger, powdered cloves, powdered nutmeg, vanilla essence, almond essence, and the unsweetened apple juice.
Mix well, cover, and let macerate in the refrigerator overnight.
Next day, preheat oven to 300F.
Line the bottom and sides of a spring-form pan.
Cream the soft butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one by one, beating well after each addition.
Fold in half the flour, then the milk, then the remaining half of flour.
Fold in the macerated mixture.
Dissolve the baking powder in a tablespoon of milk and fold in the cake mixture.
Pour the lot in the prepared tin, and smooth out the surface.
Top the surface in concentric circles of whole almonds, pressing ever-so lightly, just enough for it to adhere.
Bake in the middle of the oven for two hours, or up to three hours, until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out dry.
Let cool in tin for 30 mins to 1 hour in the pan before removing to cool completely.
I suggest making this cake about a week before intending consumption, and storing it in an air-tight tin in a cool place.