I haven't done a mysterious dessert in quite a while so from Death at Wentwater Court by Carola Dunn ...
She had provided a large slice of Dundee cake for Lady Josephine without asking, Daisy noted with amusement.
Dundee cake a famous traditional Scottish fruit cake that can be identified by the circles of blanched almonds on the surface of the cake. The Scotsman newspaper (about seeking special protection from the European Commission)...
“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 association with this city.”
“Dundee Cake has an iconic appearance, in that the carefully laid-out pattern of whole, blanched almonds immediately distinguishes it from other fruit cakes. It is light and buttery containing sultanas, almonds, Amontillado sherry and candied orange peel. It is a fruit cake made by the creaming method, the mixture contains about 25 per cent more flour than normally expected and contains sugar with dried vine fruits, candied peel and chopped almonds, and the cake is flavoured with grated orange zest.”
Here is a good article if you are interested in the history of marmalade and Dundee Cake http://bakingforbritain.blogspot.com/2006/03/marmalade-part-2-and-dundee-cake.html.
"The first part's me auntie's birthday, sir," Piper explained eagerly, "and the last bit's the number of inches in an ell. Forty-five, sir," he added as they all look at him blankly.
An ell is a former unit of measurement of length equivalent to six hand breadths according to the Oxford Dictionaries. I just measured the breadth of my hand and it is about 4 inches (with the thumb tucked in) which would equal 24 inches ?!?!? If I extend my hand by spreading my fingers the distance from finger to thumb is about 8 and a half inches - which gives you 51 inches.
Different countries interpreted the ell differently so an English ell was of a different length than a French or Flemish ell. Somewhere along the way an English ell become entangled with a yard or something like that and was defined as 5/4 of a yard.
Wikipedia seems to have it it confused with a cubit which is approximately the length of a man's arm from the elbow (which means the bend or bow in the ell or arm) to the tip of the middle finger or around 18 inches or so. (i.e. an ell was not originally a cubit - they are related in that they are both derived from some dimension of an arm.) Old English eln, originally "forearm, length of the arm "I suppose is where this comes from. There do seem to be two distinct etymologies, but the one the lead to the ell as 45 inches is not the one related to the cubit so far I can see.
Origin: Middle English eln, from Old English; akin to Old High German elina ell, Latin ulna forearm, Greek ōlenē elbow, Sanskrit aratni
First Known Use: before 12th century
Well that was harder than expected!
I had more words but have run out of time. Happy Wednesday!