Christmas Plum Cake

Merry Christmas

Finally! It's Christmas time again and the golden memories of X'mas of my childhood and teenage days in Dubai come back again!! *sigh*....Those days decorating the X'mas tree was my main hobby. And then of course finishing mummy's special non-veg dishes was another one! *smiles*....Plum cakes/Fruits cakes were out of question, as mom never bakes (like her daughter)!!!!And we never used to get good fruit cakes back then in Dubai (don't now about the situation now)....But of course, we used to buy the normal icing cakes from the bakery for Christmas....Those were truly the good old days...*sigh*....

And then later on when I came down to India for my Masters, my X'mas were celebrated in my granny's home with uncles, aunties and cousins.....That was the time I really celebrated Christmas in all it's real spirit....I remember, when doing my Masters in Bangalore, I used to book the train or bus tickets to Kerala one month in advance to be at home for X'mas since it was the time when all my cousins used to gather at my granny's home...At home, we used to decorate a real X'mas tree with lights, put stars around the house, burn crackers, go for late-night Mass (not me, of course!!!always wanted to, but every time I surrender to my sleep), have delicious food (made by my aunties) and of course the famous fruit cake of Best Bakers...Ahh....those were the days....golden ones!Miss them to the core.....*sigh*.....Oh, how I wish I had a time machine to travel back to those days!!! *sigh*.......

And to the present scenario (back from those nostalgic memories)....Its only after my son turned two, we actually started celebrating X'mas...He is all excited when it comes to some kind of celebrations, be it Diwali, Onam or even a birthday!! He loves decorating...Each year we set up the tree when he sleeps, so as to surprise him (he loves surprises tooo!)...*smiles*...My younger one also enjoys all these.....
This year, we had three trees decorated - an artificial one and then two natural ones in our garden. We had a crib and lots of stars too!!!But what's Christmas without a glass of wine and fruit cake - and that too both home-made!!! The later, of course by me and the former by my Pappa....*smiles*.....

Enough of the tales, now back to the cake.....This cake recipe I got from Kitchen Mishmash's blog back in 2009, when I was not a serious baker. And so, when I baked the cake back then, I missed out most of the ingredients!! *winks*.....But this time, I had soaked the fruits a year in advance in Brandy. I used only few dry fruits like cherries, cashewnuts and raisins! So, here it is......

Recipe Source: Kitchen Mishmash

For the Batter
Maida/All purpose flour - 1 1/2 cups (sifted)
Butter - 3/4 cup (at room temp)
Granulated sugar - 11/2 cups
Egg yolks - 3 large (at room temp)
Egg whites - 3 large (at room temp)
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Wine - 2 tbsps
Vanilla extract/essence - 1 tsp

For soaking the fruits
Tutti Frutti - 1 cup
Raisins - 1/3 cup
Nuts (almonds & cashewnuts) - 1/3 cup
Dates (chopped) - 1/3 cup
Glaced cherries (chopped) - 1/3 cup
Rum/Brandy - 1 1/2 - 2 cups (enough to soak the fruits)

For the Caramel
Granulated sugar - 1/2 cup
Water - 1 tbsp + 1/2 cup

For Spice Powders
Caraway seeds/cake jeera/shahjeera (powdered) - 1 tsp
Nutmeg (powdered) - 1/4 tsp
Cinnamon (powdered) - 1/4 tsp
Cloves (powdered) - 1/4 tsp
Cardamom (powdered) - 1/4 tsp

  • Chop all the fruits into small pieces and soak them in Rum/Brandy or in a combination of rum and sweet wine, at least one day in advance. {Soaking can be done days or weeks or months or even upto a year in advance. It will make the fruits more plump and hydrated. The fruits should be soaked thoroughly in alcohol. Also shake the jar once in a while.}
  • Prepare caramel by heating and melting sugar along with 1 tbsp of water, until they turn dark brown. Keep swirling the pan but donot stir it. When sugar is completely melted and bubbles start coming up and if it has reached the colour you want, turn off the stove and place the pan in the sink and pour 1/2 cup of cold water to the caramel. Allow it to come to room temperature. {Hot caramel can create serious burns, so make sure that you play safe and kids are not around while preparing it. Also, while pouring the cold water to the caramel, stand at a safe distance as it will splash in the beginning which may lead to serious burns. Caramel should be completely cold before adding to the batter, else it will spoil the entire batch. You can prepare the caramel in advance and refrigerate it as well.}
  • Preheat the oven at 350 F (180 C). Prepare one 8-inch cake pan and a 6-inch pan by lining the bottoms with parchment paper, butter the paper and grease the sides and sprinkle lightly with the flour.
  • Sift the flour and baking powder together.
  • In another small mixing bowl, add the egg whites and beat on medium speed until foamy and the whites begin to look shiny and smooth and form soft peaks, when you stop the mixer and lift the whip. {It is important that the egg whites are beaten in a clean and dry bowl without any trace of grease/fat/water; otherwise the whites will not expand to its full volume.}
  • Mix egg yolks and vanilla essence and beat well for a minute, in low-medium speed.
  • Mix butter and sugar until they are creamy and combined well. Add the beaten mixture of egg yolks and vanilla to this butter-sugar mixture; followed by wine, spice powders and caramel (1/2 cup) and beat thoroughly till everything is creamy and combined.
  • At this stage, add the flour in small quantities and scrape down the bowl once or twice. At the end, stop the hand mixer and using a rubber spatula, fold the thoroughly beaten egg whites very gently (donot beat) until no white streaks are visible.
  • Finally, drain the soaked fruits and keep a half cup of soaked fruits aside. Add the rest of the fruits to the batter and gently fold them into the batter. Toss the half cup fruits, kept aside earlier, in 1 tbsp flour. {Tossing the fruits in flour is to make sure that they spread evenly in the cake and not crowded at the bottom of the cake}
  • Pour the batter into the prepared baking tins and just before smoothening the top, add the fruits tossed in flour and then level the top with a spatula, making sure that the fruits are coated with batter as well.
  • Bake for around 1 hour or till a skewer which is inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean without any crumbs. {Bake in a microwave oven at 600W for around 15 mins or till a skewer inserted comes out clean.}
  • Let the cake cool in the tins for 15 mins and later invert it onto a wire rack and let it cool thoroughly for about 45 mins or until it has reached the room temp.Do not cut the cake at this point. Double wrap the cakes using clear plastic wraps and leave it on the kitchen counter for atleast 4 days. On the 5th day, you can cut the cake and serve it with sweet red wine. This cake can be stored in the fridge for several weeks. {It is very important that the cake should rest for 5 days for all the flavor and sweetness to set in. If you cut any day before that, you will not get a correct texture and taste.}

Hope you guys enjoyed my tale and my cake too!!! So, to all my readers and fans, once again wishing everybody from our home to yours a Merry Christmas!!!!

**PS: Guys!!!I know the pitures haven't turned out good (the cake is upside down)....I thought of posting more pictures when the cake is cut, but unfortunately I am leaving to Kerala tonight since my papa is not keeping well and is in hospital.....So, will post better pictures if I can later on (or maybe next yr for X'mas) and requesting your prayers as well!!!