Dundee Cake

Servings: Yields 12 servings

Wine Varietal: Pinot Noir

Throughout The Passing Bells, a romance slowly blossoms between American journalist Martin Rilke and former Abingdon Pryory maid Ivy Thaxton, though they only have snatches of time together as the war goes on. In Book Two, Martin happens upon Ivy on the street and takes her out for afternoon tea, in what becomes their first date, at the White Manor tea shop in posh Charing Cross. The tea salon strikes Ivy as very elegant: an orchestra plays, couples dance, and the lavish tea service includes petit fours, éclairs, and rich cakes. “Oh, my, isn’t it the grandest place!” she says. Martin appreciates Ivy’s appetite, and is even more pleased when she agrees to dance with him.

Later on in Book Three, after both have begun to experience the horrors of war, Martin and Ivy meet near Christmastime at another White Manor tea shop. Ivy is training as a nurse, due to report to a hospital in France the next month. Martin is thrilled to see her:

She could eat, bless her. He felt almost paternal watching her devour what was placed before her—a hot pork pie, tea sandwiches of ham and cress, a slice of Dundee cake, and cup after cup of tea. And yet she was as thin as a waif. She amazed him.
“Stop staring at me.”
“I like to watch you eat.”
“It’s rude.”
“Sure, but you know how we Yanks are.”

The Dundee cake Ivy devours is a famous traditional Scottish cake, known for its rich flavor and typical decoration of concentric circles of almonds. It’s a great fruit cake for those who don’t like the heavy, rich cakes. Also known as the Scottish Christmas cake, it’s perfect for the holidays.