Was ever a recipe in more need of protection than that of Dundee Cake?
The list of ingredients incorporated by half-baked imitators is long - such as currants, margarine, rum and glace cherries. Worst of all, one early catering school text book told corner-cutting would-be bakers to use flaked almonds, to save the cost of whole ones and the labour of placing them on top.
A carefully laid-out pattern of blanched whole almonds is, of course, one of the cake's defining features, along with Amontillado sherry and candied orange peel. Other details are set out in a Protected Food Name status application to be lodged on behalf of the classic confection.
When the original European scheme to grant such status was introduced 20 years ago, Dundee Cake was explicitly ruled out, while Scotch beef and lamb and Forfar bridies jostled for recognition. The scheme had no place for products whose name "indicates a type of product rather than the place of origin" said one sniffy Eurocrat.
A change of heart is overdue. The legend of the cake's creation by Janet Keiller, as an offshoot from her burgeoning marmalade business may owe a little to local folklore, but there can be little doubt the cake's name and place of origin are perfectly blended.
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