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Dundee Cake

This not-so-fruity fruitcake is Scotland's Christmas cake.

2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon mixed spice (such as pumpkin pie spice)
2 sticks butter
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
4 eggs

1 cup whole almonds
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup regular raisins
1/3 cup candied mixed peel
1/3 cup crystallized cherries, halved
Zest of small lemon
1/3 cup rum or sweet sherry
2 tablespoons milk

Set the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease an 8-inch springform pan. Line the bottom with a double sheet of parchment or wax paper. Cut another double piece of parchment or wax paper and line the side of the pan, allowing the paper to stand 1 inch or so higher than the rim.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and spice. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and 1 cup of sugar until it is pale and creamy. Make a well in the center and add 1 egg and about 1/2 cup of the flour mixture. Beat until thoroughly blended. Continue mixing in each egg with 1/2 cup of the flour mixture. When all have been added, beat in the rest of the flour. Cut a third of the almonds into 3 or 4 pieces each. Stir these into the mixture along with the raisins, candied peel, cherries, lemon zest, and rum to form a mixture soft enough that a dollop falls from the spoon in 5 seconds. If necessary, stir in a little extra rum or water. Spoon into the prepared pan, smoothing it down and leaving a slight indentation in the center. Working quickly, arrange the remaining almonds in concentric circles on top.

Place the pan on a cookie sheet and rest a piece of foil over the top so the cake doesn't brown too quickly. Bake for about 2 hours, turning after 1 hour so it cooks evenly. Remove the protective foil at the same time. Begin testing for doneness after about 1 1/2 hours. A skewer or toothpick inserted in the center will emerge clean when the cake is ready.

Remove the cake from the oven. Immediately boil the milk and the remaining tablespoon of sugar into a sticky syrup. Brush this over the surface of the hot cake. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack. When cold, remove it from the pan and store in an airtight tin or wrap in several sheets of foil. Keep for at least 2 days before cutting. (Traditionally, Dundee cakes are left to mature for up to a month.)

Serves 8 to 10.

By Claire Hopley, Globe Correspondent

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