This Christmas I bring this festive Plum Cake to you.
The Jolly molly best time of the year is here, and so is this unique Christmas cake which is most commonly know as plum cakes. I get it a lot when a slight mention of my Kerala genes kicks in. ‘Do you know how to make a plum cake?’ they all ask. ‘Yep,’ I say ‘and since I have eaten it all my life I am not a very big fan.’ I don’t like the bitterness, the raisins and the dense texture of that cake. But when you make it at home you are the creator, and little tweaks to the recipe will yield a moist cake, and I must say I still stand by my word ‘ I absolutely hate raisins in a cake.
The dry fruits are soaked in rum or brandy for up to months in advance, and Christmas is the time when the jar is finally opened, and the alcohol-infused dry fruits are folded into the cake. The aroma is utterly intoxicating. If you don’t want alcohol, the alcohol-free recipe is available too. For the similar eggless recipe, try this eggless Christmas cake. The dates and carrot cake is my absolute favorite for this holiday season.
So, how far are your preparations going? Are the light up and the Christmas tree up and flashing? Oh, don’t you love the Christmas tree, the ornaments, the lighting, the decorative wreath, stores filled with bright colors, red outfits, the serving plates and bowls with Christmas decorations and all the malls with a Santa to their name? Everything sounds fun to me except the long queue of children waiting to take pictures with Santa.
Till now, I had an absolute satisfaction that I did not have to stand in that long queue, but this year Nivaan has been wanting to meet Santa, and you will most certainly find me standing in one of those long lines.
Long queues apart, let me divert your focus to our cake.
The caramel is always a tricky part, or I should instead say its intimidating. Sugar can change from a perfect amber color to burnt in a matter of seconds. Adding a tablespoon of water to the sugar to melt it takes a little longer but reduces the risk. If you think the caramel has burnt then make it again or else you will get the burnt taste in the cake.
Plum can be chopped and added to the cake but cooking it this way and making a paste gives the cake a more darker color.
- 2 cups 240grams All purpose flour / maida
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup 2 sticks (226 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 and 1/4 cup 250grams sugar
- 4 Large Eggs at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoon ground spices Please refer notes
- 1/2 cup chopped cashews
- 1/2 cup raisins
- Powdered sugar for dusting optional
- TO PREPARE PLUM
- 1 cup dried plum approx 23
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons oil
- FOR CARAMEL
- 1/4 cup 50 grams sugar + 1 tablespoon water
- 1/4 cup warm water to add later
- TO PREPARE PLUM (This gives it a dark color)
- Add plum + water in a sauce pan and place it on high heat. Once the water starts simmering, turn the heat to medium and let the remaining water evaporate and plum soften. Add oil, mash the plum with a spoon and keep stirring till a thick paste is formed. Keep it aside to cool.
- FOR THE CARAMEL
- Add sugar + 1 tablespoon of water in a saucepan and place it on medium high heat. When the sugar melts and it starts to darken, reduce the heat to low.
- The sugar will start to bubble. Once it bubbles for few seconds, add 1/4 cup of water and mix well till all the crystal dissolves.
- If the sugar has crystallized, place it back on the heat till it melts. Keep it aside to cool.
- THE CAKE
- Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees Fahrenheit/175 Degrees Celsius. Spray, line and flour an 8 * 3 inch pan with oil or butter.
- Sift together couple of times, all purpose flour + baking powder + baking soda + salt. Keep aside.
- Beat butter and sugar on high speed for 5 minutes till its fluffy. Add eggs one by one, beating well after each addition and scraping off the sides. Stir in the vanilla extract and spice mix.
- Now add the plum paste and mix well.
- Add half of the flour, then the caramel syrup and mix. Then add the remaining flour and mix until everything is combined, scraping off the sides. (Do not over mix)
- Fold in the cashews and raisins.
- Pour into the prepared pan and bake in the middle rack of the oven for 55-60 minutes or till a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Place the pan on a cooling rack for 5 minutes and then invert the cake onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Sifting the flour is very important for a lighter texture.
You can use the spice mix powder of your choice. I used equal amounts of cloves + cardamom + nutmeg + cinnamon.
For Traditional cake with alcohol - Soak plums + raisins + cashews + black currants in rum or brandy. Drain it, roughly chop and fold it in the cake in the end. (Use any dry fruits of your choice)
Coat the dry fruits with 1 tablespoon of flour and shake of the excess flour before folding in the cake. This ensures that the nuts does not sink to the bottom of the pan.
For really light texture, Separate the egg yolks and whites: Beat the egg whites with 1 tablespoon of sugar until stiff peaks form, keep aside. Add only egg yolks to the batter instead of the whole egg. Follow the instructions. After adding the flour, fold in the egg whites gently until there is no visible white streaks. Now fold in the nuts.
During the last 10 minutes if the cake tends to darken, loosely cover the top of the pan with aluminum foil.
Storage: This cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about 10 days and in the refrigerator for about a month. Covered tightly with a plastic wrap, this freezes well too.