Making Winter, Baking with Mum and Wee Whisky Doused Hogmanay Dundee Cakes

Making Winter, 

Baking with Mum 


Wee Whisky Doused 

Hogmanay Dundee Cakes

A gentle meander down the lane to the local Farm Shop……..that early morning pearly light that shimmers over barren fields; the sharpness of first breath as you leave the warm cocoon of home. The crackle and snap of feet kicking through crisply fallen leaves and then the glorious vision of sizzling leaves of gold, orange, bronze and flame red; beech and bracken, elm and elder, all bedecked in gaudy colours and now showing more than they should, branches blatantly on show with sparse leaves to cover their dignity…….smoke suspended in the air above toy cottages and tidy terrace houses. Family dogs barking by wooden garden gates and cats skulking behind ragged hedgerows whilst seaside gulls wheel above, squawking and shrieking with delight as they are lured by the richer pickings of “inland” dining.

My first glimpse of crimson on green, a sure sign that winter is indeed upon us, if not with us and Christmas and the New Year are close enough to reach out and touch with wool gloved fingers. An early morning blackbird breaks into song and then nervously flits in and about the holly bush ~ black on red on green…….the lane winds on and the silky morning silence is my partner. Shopping lists run riot through my head ~ dried fruit, plump cherries, almonds, sprouts on stalks, fresh farm eggs, pomegranates, milk, beetroot, tartan ribbon………a miniature bottle of whisky………some home-cured smoked bacon. And, blood red poppies are also on my mind, a simple token of remembrance.

In the manner of “The Night Before Christmas” visions of a full baking day dances through my head….baking with my Mum and tasting with Dad; a day of warm ovens, flour shakers, jumbo free range eggs and plump raisins. Cake tins of yesterday and old Tala measures, it’s a warm Victoria sponge day of bliss, jam, icing sugar and happiness. Lists are checked, ingredients checked off and the kettle whistles a starting signal, on your marks, get set……..

Time to tell you about today’s recipe, wee fruit cakes that will be gifts for friends and neighbours; my Mum makes these in old syrup sponge tins, larger than a baked beans tin but small enough to make little cakes that are perfect for gifts ~ especially for people who maybe by themselves. We call these Hogmanay cakes, as they are similar to Dundee cakes and have a good slug of Scotch whisky to plump up the fruit whilst adding a smoky flavour. The recipe is easy and the results are amazing ~ a simple topping of traditional almonds and undyed glacé cherries add a festive Rudolph finish, along with a goodly length of tartan/plaid ribbon.

You can use muffin tins for these cakes ~ the yield will be higher but the cakes will be smaller and will take less time to bake. Whilst these wee cakes were baking today, the house was infused with the smell of fruit and spice and the whisky bottle was ready for the odd nip now and then…..well, it is winter! The cakes that I photographed were made several weeks ago and have been “fed” for a while now ~ Mum always makes a “taster” of these cakes (as well as her main Christmas cake) which we devoured with a cuppa mid morning ~ the cake was fruity and moist, lightly spiced and fragrant, not too heavy and plump with raisins and peel. 

One batch of the following cake mix makes three “syrup sponge tin” size cakes ~ and probably about 8 to 10 smaller muffin size cakes……bake the almonds on top of the cake, just as you would with a Dundee cake and then add the glacé cherries if you want a red nose finish. Add a length of tartan ribbon around the circumference of the cakes and pin into a bow. (Make sure you alert your victims lucky recipients to the fact that the pearl is a pin and needs to be removed with care!) Present them in a small tin or wrap them in cellophane and there’s another couple of gifts crossed off the list…….enjoy these cakes throughout the winter, for Christmas or at Hogmanay ~ courtesy of my mum! 

See you later with more baking tales from a Wold’s country kitchen.


Wee Whisky Doused 

Hogmanay Dundee Cakes

(Makes 3 cakes)


300g luxury dried mixed fruit

50g mixed peel

100g light brown sugar

100g butter, unsalted

150ml water

juice of 1 clementine

1 large egg

200g self raising flour

25g ground almonds

1 teaspoon mixed spice

grated zest of a clementine

Whole blanched almonds

undyed glacé cherries

Scotch whisky


Preheat oven to 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2. Grease and line 3 clean syrup sponge tins, or other old tins such as tomatoes, baked beans and soup.

Place the dried fruit, peel, clementine juice, butter, sugar and water in a saucepan and simmer gently over a low heat with the lid on for 20 minutes.

Allow to cool and then add the beaten egg, ground almonds, mixed spice and sieved flour. Mix well and then pour into prepared tins. Arrange the blanched almonds on the top of the cakes.

Shake the tins gently to level the mixture and bake for 50 to 60 minutes; test with a skewer after 50 minutes, which should come out clean if the cake is cooked.

Cool the cakes in the tins for 10 to 15 minutes before removing from the tins and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Make some holes in the cake with a knitting needle or a skewer and feed with whisky for several weeks before adding the glacé cherries if using, then tie a length of tartan ribbon around the cakes.