Outlander on Starz enters its 3rd week of Season 3 this weekend with the episode entitled “All Debts Paid.” We’ll meet an older Lord John Grey, newly installed as Governor of Ardsmuir prison, and the next person to have a profound impact on James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie’s life. The featured recipe this week is Lord John’s Upside Down Plum Cake.
He heard a small, stealthy sound, and sat up abruptly, his eyes popping open. A large brown rat sat on the corner of his desk, a morsel of plum cake held in its front paws. It didn’t move, but merely looked at him speculatively, whiskers twitching.
“Well, God damn my eyes!” Grey exclaimed in amazement. “Here, you bugger! That’s my supper!”
The rat nibbled pensively at the plum cake, bright beady eyes fixed on the Major.
“Get out of it!” Enraged, Grey snatched up the nearest object and let fly at the rat. The ink bottle exploded on the stone floor in a spray of black, and the startled rat leapt off the desk and fled precipitously, galloping between the legs of the even more startled MacKay, who appeared at the door to see what the noise was.
Diana Gabaldon, Voyager, Chapter 8, “Honor’s Prisoner”
Early cakes in Britain were made from bread dough sweetened with honey or sugar and kneaded with dried fruits, nuts, and spices. They were dense, heavy rounds that often lasted many months, similar to modern fruitcake.
This cake, by comparison, is light and delicately spiced. Its upside-down nature reflects Lord John’s own life at this juncture, recently arrived in mysterious disgrace from London to cold, dank Ardsmuir in the far reaches of nowhere.
The recipe for Lord John’s Upside Down Plum Cake is exclusive to Outlander Kitchen: The Official Outlander Companion Cookbook, available at the following online locations, in addition to brick-and-mortar bookstores everywhere.