Plum Cakes or fruit cakes are part and parcel of christmas celebration in Kerala. All the bakeries in Kerala would be showcasing the plum cakes during this time. My dad used to be the member of a recreation club which was run by a church. So my dad’s christian friend’s used to bring plum cake and wine for us when it is X’mas time. I was not so much fond of the cake as it used to be in abundance during our childhood. Once I moved to USA, I started missing that cake and used to search for it here. I was never able to find anything similar to that but have heard that in few Indian Grocery stores we can still find those during christmas time. This Christmas we invited our few friends for lunch and we planned a Kerala style christmas menu. Cake is an integral part and I was under pressure to make that to make it a perfect Kerala menu. Another thing was my friend is expecting a baby and so I wanted to make sure there is no alcohol added in the cake (so that she too can enjoy). Discussing with my mom and checking few internet recipes I successfully created the Christmas cake. Enjoy Baking!
1. All Purpose Flour – 1 ¼ cup
2. Butter – ½ cup (I used unsalted butter, one whole stick from a 4 stick packet)
3. Sugar – 1 cup and 3 tsp (I used brown sugar instead of white for the cup measure and white sugar for the 3tsp)
4. Eggs – 2
5. Baking Powder – ½ tsp
6. Raisins – 1 big handful (½ dark raisins and ½ golden raisins)
7. Cashew nuts – 1 handful
8. Spice Powder (I used McCormick) – 1 pinch (You can grind cardmom, cloves,cinnamon,nutmeg and make your own spice)
9. Vanilla Essence – 1 tsp
11. Dried Fruits – Tutti Frutti
Note: I have not used Brandy\Rum or any other alcohol in the cake preparation or haven’t soaked the fruits for days in the alcohol.
Caramelized Sugar prep and making the nuts/raisins tender:
- Heat a pan (good tip is to use an old pan) and once heated reduce to low.
- Add 3 tsp of sugar and let the sugar melt.
- Boil ¼ cup of water in another sauce pan and keep it ready.
- Once the melted sugar turns to dark brown ( There is no need to stir the sugar as that causes the sugar to stick to the pan and it is difficult to clean later), remove the pan from fire and add the boiled water from step 3 to this. (Be careful not to splash the water while adding).
- Mix the sugar and water well, keep it back in the low flame and bring it back to boil.
- Add the raisins and cashew nuts to this and allow them to boil for about 5 minutes to take the raw taste out as well as to make it tender. (this would give them the same texture and tenderness of soaking them in alcohol for days/weeks).
- Transfer the raisins/nuts from the pan to a bowl and keep the caramelized sugar in the pan itself.
- Keep the ¼ flour separate and add the 1 cup flour to a mixing bowl.
- Heat the butter for 10 secs.
- Add the baking powder and spice mix into the flour.
- Add the eggs to a separate bowl .Beat it really well with a whisk. Add sugar and butter to this and continue to beat it.
- Once its smooth, add this to the mixture in step 3 and mix it well.
- Add the vanilla essence to this mixture. Now gently fold the mixture from all around the pan without stirring more. Add the caramelized sugar to the mixture.
- Now take the bowl with the raisins and nuts (soaked in caramelized sugar) and add the tutti frutti. Add the ¼ flour kept aside to this and mix it well. This will make sure that the nuts,raisins and fruits would be evenly floating rather than sinking to the bottom of the baking pan.
- Take the mixture from Step 7 and add it to the mixture in step 5. Gently fold the mixture.
- Grease the baking pan with butter using a pastry brush. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Pour the cake mixture from Step 8 to the baking pan.
11.Bake it for 40 minutes. Check if the top portion of the cake has changed hard with a dark brownish color. (I use a fork or skewer to check if if is cooked well. If the skewer comes out without any ingredients sticked to that, it means the cake is cooked well).
- Take the baking pan out of the oven once it is cooked and allow it to cool down for about 25 mts.