Friday, December 27, 2013

Scottish recipes - Ginger Wine & Blackcurrant Cordial

Ginger wine or Ginger cordial

OK, who out there remembers drinking ginger wine or cordial as a youngster at Hogmanay in Scotland?

Do you remember how ginger wine burns your throat and almost feels like you really shouldn't be drinking it, like it shouldn't be doing that to you throat?

I remember it being so sweet and delicious and very festive

My sister and I would drink it with all our cousins at my grandparents house on New Year's Eve (Hogmanay in Scotland)

The house was full of Aunts and Uncles and cousins, and Great Aunts and Great Uncles and neighbours and friends. Great times and great memories

There would be wonderful treats to eat like cherry cake, black bun, fruit cake, and shortbread and a wee dram of whisky or the likes for the adults

But the real treat for us kids was the Ginger or Blackcurrant cordial

Ginger wine is not really wine, it's a non alcoholic cordial but it's strong and addictive or at least it seemed that way to me

So in Scotland at this time of year if you are quick enough (before they fly off the shelves) you can buy these little bottles of concentrate to make 6 pints of each flavor. The only shop to get them is the Co-op to my knowledge (what's that Co-op? my cheque is in the post?)

I was lucky enough to have my parents trek around the local Co-op 's to find these for me and then to mail them to me here in Texas (thanks Mum and Dad)

Ginger essence concentrate from the Co-op

I can't believe I am making a wonderful drink from my Scottish childhood here in Texas, watch out neighbours you will need to help me finish 12 pints of the stuff !!

I was really surprised, no not surprised, shocked, by how much sugar goes into making this stuff.
A dentists dream indeed, this will probably rot your teeth and probably cause a quick onset of diabetes but Oh-my-Goodness it's so good

You will need

3.5 lbs of sugar (oh yes you will)
6 pints of cold water
1 bottle of ginger wine concentrate

I just followed the instructions on the label, easy.....

  • Put sugar and water in a large pot and bring to boil, simmer until sugar is dissolved

Sugar and water

  • Take off heat and allow to cool completely

  • Once cooled, add concentrate and mix well (do not, and I repeat, do not be tempted to taste the concentrate - a warning from the label and my Dad)

  • Bottle, refrigerate and enjoy

I used a mixture of bottles I had, from screw top wine bottles, to decorative bottles, even mason jars would be cute to store your 6 pints of Ginger wine (and have a party and invite kids to try it out) Or better still do what I did and give out the bottles as Christmas gifts to unsuspecting neighbours who are thinking I am giving them Scottish moonshine (love you neighbours)

So I probably haven't had ginger wine since I was around 11 or 12 and my memory of this great stuff was correct. It didn't disappoint. Ginger wine is still on my list as one of the most thrilling drinks I have ever had

Now excuse me while I go and polish off the bottle of ginger wine calling my name and sit in my nostalgic haze of childhood bliss

Happy Hogmanay to my Scottish friends and Happy New Year to everyone else


Ginger wine or Ginger cordial


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Scottish recipes - Dundee Cake

Dundee Cake

Dundee Cake is named for the city of Dundee in Scotland

I lived in Dundee as a child from the age of 2 until I was around 7 with my Mum, Dad and little Sister, so Dundee is a part of my childhood

Dundee cake is a rich fruit cake with almonds on top, it is usually served at Christmas or New Years Eve (Hogmanay) in Scotland, it is heavier and more fruit filled than regular fruit cake, Click here for my recipe for Fruit Cake

Fruit cake is not loved as much here in the USA, so this little Lassie from Scotland is on a mission to change that. So if you are still buying those weird looking fruit cakes that turn up in supermarkets get yourself a great recipe or use this Dundee cake one below and make one. I think you might change your mind about the humble little fruit cake

I was chatting on FaceTime with my mum at the weekend telling her I was going to be making a Dundee cake and I was saying that I can't believe how long it will be in the oven.  I mean 3 and a half hours is a long time, and she just casually said, "You know about the brown paper right"? I said no, what about the brown paper.....

She told me a great tip for making cakes that are in the oven a longtime is to wrap it in a double layer of brown paper twice the height of the tin to prevent the top of the cake from burning.  I did this and my Dundee cake turned out beautiful, thanks Mum I love your tips

This recipe is based on a recipe from my Scottish cookbook. Dundee cake is traditionally made with dried mixed peel/fruit. I don't love mixed fruit with the peel so much, so I substituted with raisins (regular and golden)

You will need

One 8 inch round cake tin

225g/8oz butter or margarine
225g/8oz fine sugar
5 eggs, lightly beaten
350g/12oz self raising flour
675g/1.5lbs Mixed fruit (I used half and half of regular and golden raisins)
100g/4oz glazed cherries (washed and quartered)
1 tsp mixed spice
50g/2oz whole balanced almonds

Dundee Cake Ingredients

  • Grease an 8 inch round cake tin, then line with paper

Line your tin

  • Set oven to 300F/150C

  • In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy

Butter and sugar

  • Gradually beat in the eggs, add a little flour to prevent curdling

add eggs
butter, eggs, sugar

  • Mix the mixed fruit (or raisins) and cherries with a couple of spoonfuls of flour (this prevents the fruit from dropping to the bottom when baking)

mixed dried fruit

  • Sift then fold in the remaining flour and the mixed spice to the creamed mixture

sift the flour

  • Stir in the dried fruit and cherries, mix well

fruit cake mixture

  • Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, level the top with the back of a metal spoon after running it under hot water

fruit cake mixture

  • If the almonds have skin on, put them in a small bowl and add boiled water, leave them sitting for 1 minute then take them out and easily peel the skin off


almonds in water

  • Place the peeled whole almonds on top of the cake in a pretty circular design

Dundee cake mixture

  • Wrap your tin with brown paper, double the height of the tin to prevent burning the top of the cake (Thanks Mum for the tip)

brown paper tip

  • Bake in the cool oven for 3 and a half hours or until a skewer inserted is removed clean

  • Remove from oven and let the cake cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack

Dundee cake

Dundee cake

Enjoy by the slice with a cup of tea

Happy December and Happy baking Tartan-tasters

Dundee Cake

Fruit Cake Dundee Cake
Scottish Dundee Cake


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