Keralan Plum Cake

Indian Fruit Cake

Some things in life are so good they shouldn’t be reserved just for Christmas, pigs in blankets…too good for just the Christmas roast, classic Bond movies, sherry, Terry’s orange chocolate, Michael Bublé (scrub that…let’s keep Michael just for Christmas). There’s one more for the line up and that’s my version of the Keralan Plum Cake, traditionally baked in South India at Christmas time. It’s a gorgeously spice scented fruit cake, with caramel notes and a perfect crumb but rest assured no plums are hurt in the process. In fact the ‘plum’ derives from the ‘plumped’ dried fruit that would traditionally swell under the influence of booze, typically rum. This is a rum free version, but it’s easy to adapt it. It’s got just the right hit of fruity tartness, ‘cakey’ sweetness and spiced allure to invigorate your packed lunch, the train journey home, making a bus trip a little more cheery or simply sliced and served with a cuppa. If you only restrict it to Christmas, enjoy it with a glass of your favourite tipple and treat your ears to Bublé’s silky tones.

Makes: 1 x 2lb tin cake

  • 125g plain flour
  • 65g chopped pistachios
  • 30g black raisins
  • 65g mixed dry fruits (golden raisins, cherries, cranberries, blueberries orange peels, etc). If using rum, soak the fruit for at least a couple of days.
  • 65g white sugar (for the sugar syrup)
  • 95g white sugar (for the cake batter)
  • 150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • ½ tsp cardamom powder
  • ½ tsp ginger powder
  • ¼ tsp clove powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt
Keralan Plum Cake

How To Make Keralan Plum Cake

  1. In a pan over a medium heat, melt the 1/2 cup sugar slowly. As it melts it’ll turn dark brown and syrupy keep stirring and let it turn a dark shade of caramel but don’t let it burn. Take the sugar off the heat and then add about ¼ cup water…the sugar may harden. Then turn the heat back on and gently heat the mix until the sugar crystals dissolve. It’ll take around 8-10 minutes. Set aside and let it cool.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 350F / 180C.
  3. Now dredge the dry fruits and pistachios in about 3tbs of flour so that they’re completely covered. This will help prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the batter while baking.
  4. Mix the rest of the flour and baking powder, spices, and salt until they’re totally combined.
  5. Now cream the butter and 95g of sugar until fluffy, it should take around 10-12 mins. Then add the vanilla extract. Pop in 1 egg and beat it until the mix is smooth, then add some of the flour mixture and fold in. Add another egg and some more flour mixture, repeat with remaining egg and flour until it’s all used up.
  6. Pour in the cooled caramel and dredged fruits and gently combine. Pour this cake batter into a greased 2lb loaf tin and smooth out the top.
  7. Bake for 45-50 mins until the top turns a dark brown, piece with a skewer at around 40 mins and when it finally comes out with dry crumbs it’s ready.
  8. Don’t panic if the top looks like it’s overcooked…it’s supposed to look like this, just make sure the cake is cooked inside.
  9. Dust with icing sugar when the cake is totally chilled out. Slice and serve with a glass of something 'stiff'.
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