Easy Recipe to Make Traditional Scottish Dundee Cake
Recipe for a traditional Scottish Dundee cake. Photo: The Daring Gourmet

A traditional Dundee cake comes from Dundee, Scotland. The cake is distinctive alongside other rich fruit cakes by circles of blanched almonds on the surface of the cake.

There are many versions of the Dundee Cake, all claiming to be "the one," but usually any lovely rich fruit cake will do the job. This cake is as near as we can get to a true, traditional cake as it contains almonds, whiskey, and orange peel, according to The Spruce Eats.

Dundee is also the birthplace of British marmalade, thanks to the Keiller family, who are generally credited with making the first commercially available, breakfast preserve. As such, a pure and true Dundee cake will include the zest of an orange, thus linking it to the marmalade-making in the town. This recipe includes a little of both and so has quite a citrus tang to it.

As this is also a Scottish cake, traditionally, a malt whiskey would be used to flavor the cake. However, if whiskey is not your tipple, then feel free to use brandy or even sherry.

What is a Dundee Cake?

Dundee Cake is a rich Scottish fruitcake made with currants, raisins and almonds; many recipes will also include marmalade and fruit peel. Like many Scottish recipes, it’s been known to have a dash of whisky as well. Yum!

The cake is beautifully moist with a rich zesty flavor backed up by a sweet Dundee marmalade. The almonds are more than a design feature, they also provide a crunch and roasted flavor.

Now, let's get started!

Things you’ll need

  • 2 Mixing Bowls

  • Wooden Spoon

  • Digital Scales

  • Cups measure

  • 7-8 inch round cake tin

  • Parchment paper

  • Electric Whisk


  • 5 1/2 ounces/150 grams butter (slightly softened)

  • 5 1/2 ounces/150 grams dark brown sugar (soft)

  • 1 large orange (zested)

  • 8 ounces/225 grams all-purpose flour (or plain flour)

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice (Pumpkin Pie mix makes a good alternative)

  • 3 large free-range eggs

  • 1 pound/450 grams dried fruit (like sultanas, currants, and raisins)

  • 2 ounces/55 grams candied peel (chopped)

  • Optional: 2 ounces/55 grams glace cherries (halved)

  • 1 tablespoon malt whiskey (or brandy, if you prefer)

  • 4 ounces/115 grams whole almonds (blanched)

***Read More: TOP 10 Best Delicious Traditional Cakes Around the World!

How to make a Dundee Cake – Step by Step Guide

1. Gather the ingredients.

2. Preheat the oven to 300 F/150 C/Gas 2.

3. Line an 8-inch cake tin with greaseproof paper or baking parchment and grease lightly with a little butter.

Easy Recipe to Make Traditional Scottish Dundee Cake

4. Place both the butter, sugar and zest into a large roomy baking bowl. Cream the butter into the sugar until light, smooth and creamy using either a fork or electric hand whisk.

5. In another bowl, mix the flour with the baking powder and mixed spice.

6. Beat one egg into the creamed butter, then beat in a third of the flour. Repeat until all the eggs and flour are used up.

Easy Recipe to Make Traditional Scottish Dundee Cake
Photo: Betty Crocker

7. Add the dried fruits, citrus candied peel, and cherries (if using) to the mixture and stir well, but gently - you don't want to flatten the cake batter too much - until all the fruits are incorporated into the mixture.

8. Finally, stir in the whiskey using a spoon or spatula.

9. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and gently level the surface.

10. Cook in the preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours, then arrange the blanched almonds into circles on the top and return the cake to the oven.

11. Cook for another hour or until the cake is a deep, golden brown.

12. Remove the cake from the oven and place it onto a cooling rack and leave the cake to cool in the tin.

13. Once cooled it is ready to eat. Serve and enjoy!

The History of the Dundee Cake Recipe

Easy Recipe to Make Traditional Scottish Dundee Cake
Photo: the half cut cook - blogger

The story of the Dundee Cake and the recipe's nutty decoration is said to be buried deep in Scottish folklore. Legend says Mary, Queen of Scots herself asked for the recipe to be created. Why? Well, she did not care for glacé cherries so an alternative was requested, and you didn’t say no to a Queen!

The blanched almonds that form circles on the top of every Dundee cake, well that can be said to form a crown, one fitting a queen perhaps?

Like all folklore, the origins of the Dundee Cake recipe should be taken with a pinch of salt (not literally). Rich fruitcakes were popular across Scotland so there is no proof that Mary demanded the creation of this recipe. A more likely story is that the Dundee Cake recipe was created by Janet Keiller in the 1700s, later to be mass-produced by the marmalade company Keiller’s Marmalade, says Scottish Scran.

Marmalade is a key ingredient in several Scottish recipes that we’ve found, one of our favourites being Caledonian cream – delicious! Like Cranachan, Caledonian Cream contains whipped cream and whisky, but there the similarities end. The other main ingredients in Caledonian Cream are marmalade, and then the juice of a lemon or an orange, plus a little sugar for sweetness.

Despite it not being likely that Mary ordered the creation of the Dundee Cake recipe, it is said that our current Queen, Queen Elizabeth is partial to a slice or two, so it’s a cake with royal heritage one way or another!


The cake keeps well when stored in an airtight tin.

Do not rush the baking of this cake, it is high in sugars and fruit and needs longer slowing baking to make sure it does not burn. If you feel it is browning too quickly, lower the heat. All ovens have their own idiosyncrasies.

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