Bid to award Dundee cake protected status

Picture: HeMedia

Picture: HeMedia

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A FAMOUS 350-year-old Scottish fruit cake may soon have its identity protected in the same way as Scotch whisky, Arbroath smokies and Stornoway black pudding.

Dundee Cake, which was first developed in the city by marmalade creator Janet Keiller, has come a step closer to gaining Protected Geographical Indicator (PGI) status from the European Commission (EC).

The special protection would prevent the iconic confection being produced and sold under the Dundee Cake label anywhere else in Europe.

Dundee cake was first mass-produced by local marmalade maker Keiller’s and traditionally contains candied peel, sultanas and almonds.

But according to legend, the cake was first baked for Mary Queen of Scots in the 16th century because she did not like cherries in her fruit cake.

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Now the Scottish Government has launched a national consultation to consider the EC application, which was first set out last year.

“Dundee is famous as a city of discoveries and we want the world to discover delicious, authentic Dundee Cake,” said Scottish food minister Richard Lochhead.

“We can trace its origins back hundreds of years to the kitchens of the marmalade inventor Janet Keiller, making it a thoroughly Dundonian delicacy which deserves European recognition for its unique characteristics and long associations with this city.

“Scotland is world-famous for our wonderful food and drink, and people want to know they are buying the real deal.

“Achieving PGI status for Dundee cake will ensure that consumers at home and abroad have a 100 per cent guarantee of the product’s authenticity.”

As part of the campaign to secure official recognition for the cake, leading bakers and experts at the city’s Abertay University have been working together to agree a definitive recipe.

Local baker and ex-deacon of the Baker Trade of Dundee Martin Goodfellow, of Goodfellow & Steven, said: “Dundee Cake has become so far removed from its roots that it has almost become a catch-all term for any fruit cake with peel and almonds in it.

“That is not the origin of the cake, nor is it the way it has been made in the city for over 100 years.

“It is time we took back what is our own.”

Councillor Will Dawson, development convener for Dundee City Council, added: “Dundee Cake is one of the city’s most famous delicacies and an important part of our history.

“It is only right that we work towards getting protected status for this much-loved cake.”

Modern fans include the Dalai Lama, who was presented with the delicacy on a visit to Scotland.

The City of Discovery’s lord provost sent a specially created cake to the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader after it was revealed he had developed a taste for it during a previous trip.

Dundee Cake is easily recognisable by distinctive pattern of whole, blanched almonds.

It should be light and buttery, containing sultanas, almonds, Amontillado sherry and candied orange peel.

The cake is made by the creaming method, using about 25 per cent more flour than similar recipes.

An early version was developed in the late 1700s by Janet Keiller.

By the mid-1800s, the Keiller family factory began producing a special cake as a non-seasonal addition to the production schedule.

The recipe later became established as Keiller’s Dundee Cake and has continued to be made in the traditional style by members of the Baker Trade of Dundee, which is heading the proposal.

The application for PGI status outlines the raw materials and volumes that must be used to make the cake and specifies that it must be mixed, baked and decorated with almonds in the Dundee-specific area.

The consultation will run for 12 weeks - in line with the rules of the EU Protected Food Names scheme, which was introduced in 1994 to protect products on the basis of geographical or traditional recipes.

Once the consultation has been completed, the application will be forwarded to the UK government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which is responsible for submitting applications to the EC.

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