Christmas brings memories of a big slice of spicy plum cake and carols in the background. A taste of this Kerala Christmas cake is all I long for around this time of the year. When on vacations, I love eating it off season also from shops in Kerala. It is a dense cake that smells so divine and has a festive spirit! Baking a delicious plum cake was a dream for a long time until I tried it when I was living in Kenya. The chances of buying it was bleak in the small town we were in, so I decided to experiment. My trial turned out to be a chunky sweet mass and there were few takers for it. Our friendly neighbor saved the day by sending us a big, round plum cake wrapped in butter paper and I begged her for its recipe. I saved that precious recipe which is buttered and spiced and falling apart now. For many years, I followed it religiously because it was able to deliver a decent cake. Every year when I bake for the holidays, I relive those days enjoyed with a close-knit group of friends. Last year, I baked it in a loaf pan and was given the stamp of approval by family.
So this year, I ventured into baking a round cake to celebrate the merry days. My son, the connoisseur of fine cakes, is yet to judge it. I altered the recipe a bit by adding caramel to enhance the taste.
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup soft brown sugar
- 2 eggs separated
- /4 cup butter
- 1/2 cup mixed dry fruits
- 1/2 cup mixed chopped nuts
- 1 1/2 tbsp mixed spices (cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and ginger powder)
- 2 tbsp brandy
- 1/4 cup caramel
- 1 tsp baking powder
- a pinch of salt
Soak the dry fruits in brandy the previous day. Making caramel
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup water
- Add 2 tbsp water to the sugar in a pan and put it on medium heat until it turns golden brown.
- Remove it from the stove and pour the remaining water and dissolve the caramelized sugar. Be cautious as the water can splash all over.
- Keep this aside.
- Cream butter and sugar in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer at low speed.
- Add egg yolks to it and beat well.
- Beat the egg whites separately and add to it.
- Add the baking powder, salt and spices to the flour and sift it.
- Remove the soaked dry fruits and toss with some flour. This prevents the fruits from sinking to the bottom and makes them stay all over the cake.
- Combine flour and butter mixture.
- Stir in the caramel and 2 tbsp brandy.
- Fold in the fruits and nuts gently.
- Pour the mixture into a greased round pan.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 1 hour.
- Insert a tooth pick in the center of the cake and it will come out clean when it is done.
If cracks appear on the top of the cake wet a towel and cover it for a while and it comes together. For an adult version of the cake brush with brandy generously on top of the cake and it will soak into it to give a strong flavour. MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!