Vegan Dundee cake - this delicious vegan Scottish fruit cake is easy to make and a great lighter alternative to traditional Christmas cake.
Made with marmalade and ground almonds it is moist, rich and flavourful. It also makes a great centrepiece with it's pretty almond topping!
This vegan Dundee cake is a delicious, easy to make vegan version of the traditional Scottish cake.
It is moist, crumbly and delicious. Filled with fruit and decorated with rings of almonds, it is great as a celebration cake, or just to have alongside a cuppa (or something stronger!) on a cold day.
What Is Dundee Cake?:
Dundee cake is a traditional Scottish fruit cake. It is said to have originally been made for Mary Queen of Scots as she didn't like glace cherries, so a cake was made for her using almonds instead of the usual cherries.
A more likely story is that it was developed by Kieller's marmalade company in 1700's Dundee as a way to use up excess orange peels.
Unlike other fruit cakes it should never contain glace cherries and doesn't traditionally use any spices (though I like to add a bit), it also shouldn't have any added alcohol.
It should be made with Seville orange marmalade and the batter also contains ground almonds, both of which help to keep it moist.
It can easily be recognised by it's topping of concentric circles of blanched almonds.
What Do I Need To Make Vegan Dundee Cake?:
Marmalade: Ideally you need to use a fine shred Seville orange marmalade. Do not omit this ingredient.
Ground and blanched almonds: Ground almonds are added to the batter and blanched almonds are arranged on top. They cannot be omitted. (I mean, you could technically leave off the blanched almonds, but then it wouldn't be a Dundee cake).
In the US use almond flour.
Vegan butter: Make sure that you use a block butter/margarine, NOT the spreadable kind in a tub. I like Naturli Vegan Block or Flora Plant Butter.
Light brown sugar: Don't use dark brown sugar, this cake is supposed to be light in colour. You cannot swap the sugar for sweeteners or liquid sugars; the sugar is essential for texture.
Orange zest: Highly recommend that you don't omit this. I use the zest of one large orange but you could use another one if you want a stronger orange flavour.
Plain flour: Plain (all-purpose) flour is best here. I do not think that this cake will work gluten-free, it will likely just crumble to pieces.
Baking powder: Do not swap this for bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), they work very differently.
Mixed spice: Optional. This isn't traditional but I like to add a bit. In the US you can use apple pie spice or pumpkin spice instead.
Mixed dried fruit: I use a mixture of sultanas, raisins and currants. Candied peel is optional, cherries are not traditional and should not be added (unless you really want to).
Milk: Any kind of unsweetened non-dairy milk will work but soy is best.
How To Make Vegan Dundee Cake:
(Full measurements and instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the page)
Whisk together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.
Whisk in the marmalade and orange zest.
Add the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, mixed spice, milk and a pinch of salt and mix to form a smooth, thick batter. Don't over-beat it, just mix until it is fully combined then stop.
Add the dried fruit and fold through.
Transfer the batter to a greased and double lined deep 20cm/8in round cake tin and spread it level.
Use the back of a wet spoon to smooth the top.
Arrange the blanched almonds in circles on top of the cake. Press them only very lightly into the batter.
Bake the cake for about 2 hours until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Leave the cake to cool in the tin completely.
As with all of my baking recipes I really do recommend using the metric measurements with a digital scale rather than the cup conversions. Cups are a wildly inaccurate measuring system and you will get far better, more consistent results using a scale, not to mention that it is also easier and less messy than cups!
For the best results follow the recipe closely and make it exactly as written. Changing any of the ingredients could affect the outcome of the cake.
Lining the tin with a double layer of baking parchment helps to stop the edges of the cake from burning before it is cooked in the middle.
Do not open the oven door until the cake has been baking for at least an hour and a half. Opening it too early can cause it to sink.
The cake is ready when it is firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs but no wet batter.
It is normal for the cake to have a slight dip in the middle.
Make sure that the cake has cooled completely before you slice it.
How To Store It:
This vegan Dundee cake will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a couple of weeks. It is not like traditional Christmas cake and won't keep for as long.
If you do want to store it for longer, you will need to keep it well wrapped and 'feed' it with a drizzle of whisky every couple of weeks. It should also freeze well if needed.
Can I Soak The Fruit In Advance?:
I don't find it necessary in this case and it isn't traditional to soak the fruit for Dundee cake; it still ends up being moist as it absorbs steam as the cake bakes.
If you do choose to soak it the risk is that the extra moisture will make the cake too wet and it will sink.
So I recommend only using about 3 Tbsp of alcohol or orange juice to soak the fruit in, make sure that it is fully absorbed before making the cake (so let it soak for at least a day), and increase the flour to 280g to counter the extra liquid.
I haven't tested the cake with soaked fruit so do this at your own risk.
More Vegan British Christmas Recipes:
I have loads of vegan Christmas recipes on the blog. Here is a selection:
- Vegan Christmas cake
- Vegan Viennese whirl mince pies
- Vegan gingerbread cookies
- Vegan Christmas pudding
- Vegan mincemeat cake
- Vegan shortbread fingers
- Easy ginger cake
- Vegan steamed chocolate pudding
If you tried this recipe let me know how it went! Rate it, leave a comment or tag @domestic_gothess on Instagram and hashtag it #domesticgothess
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Vegan Dundee Cake
- 180 g (¾ cup) vegan block butter (I use Naturli Vegan Block) slightly softened
- 180 g (1 cup) light brown soft/muscovado sugar
- 100 g (4 Tablespoons) fine shred Seville orange marmalade
- finely grated zest of 1 large orange
- 260 g (2 cups + 2 Tablespoons) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 100 g (3 ½ oz) ground almonds (almond flour)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice (optional)
- 135 ml (½ cup + 1 Tablespoon) unsweetened non-dairy milk (I use soy)
- a pinch of salt
- 500 g (17 oz) mixed dried fruit (sultanas, raisins, currants)
- about 100 g (3 ½ oz) whole blanched almonds
- Preheat the oven to 160°C/140°C fan/325°F/gas mark 3. Grease a 20 cm/8 in round, approx 9 cm/3 ½ in deep cake tin and line the base and sides with a double layer of baking parchment, making sure that it comes above the top of the tin by a couple of cm/1 inch.
- Whisk together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy then whisk in the marmalade and orange zest.
- Add the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, mixed spice, milk and a pinch of salt and mix to form a smooth, thick batter. Don't over-beat it, just mix until it is fully combined then stop.
- Add the dried fruit and fold through.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared tin and spread it level. Use the back of a wet spoon to smooth the top.
- Arrange the blanched almonds in circles on top of the cake. Press them only very lightly into the batter.
- Bake the cake for about 2 hours until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. If the top of the cake starts to get too dark before it is cooked then you can loosely cover it with a piece of tin foil. Do not open the oven door until the cake has been baking for at least 1 ½ hours however.
- Leave the cake to cool in the tin completely then turn out and store in an airtight container.
- See post above for tips, details, storage instructions and step-by-step photos.
- As with all of my baking recipes I really do recommend using the metric measurements with a digital scale rather than the cup conversions. Cups are a wildly inaccurate measuring system and you will get far better, more consistent results using a scale, not to mention that it is also easier and less messy than cups!
- The cake is ready when it is firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs but no wet batter.
- It is normal for the cake to have a slight dip in the middle.
- Make sure that the cake has cooled completely before you slice it.