What excites us most about winters are the festivities and excitement that blankets us. Christmas is almost here and people across the world are gearing up for the merry celebrations, followed by the big night of New Year's eve. What makes Christmas even more special is the sheer joy of gorging on delectable treats on this day, especially plum cake that makes an important part of the festival. What makes it special is how people begin preparing the plum cake months prior to cooking it. The slightly bitter taste and dense texture is because of the dry fruits that are soaked in rum or brandy for months, opened only closer to the festival when the cake is baked. The aroma of the Christmas plum cake, with its alcohol infused dry fruits and nuts, is simply intoxicating and irresistible.
Christmas Plum cakes are made of either dried fruits like grapes, currants, raisins or prunes or with fresh fruits depending on one's taste and preference along with plums as the primary ingredient. Most people prefer adding rum or brandy infused dried fruits in the cake while some may prefer to bake their cake without any alcohol. But what makes plum a traditional treat during Christmas and why is it considered so special?
The story of plum cakes started in medieval England, where it was a popular tradition to observe a period of fasting and abstinence from any kind of feasting in the weeks leading to Christmas. The fasting and abstinence would hold you in good stead for the indulgent days ahead. As per the custom, on the eve of Christmas, a rich porridge was cooked and eaten to 'line the stomach' for the upcoming feast. The porridge was prepared with oats, dried fruits, spices, honey and sometimes even meat, eventually turning into a Christmas pudding. People started using the same ingredients and made fruitcakes with plums and other dried fruits on Christmas. That's how plum cakes are believed to have come into existence as a traditional dessert.
Come Christmas who doesn't like to devour these amazing delights. We know you can buy plum cakes from outside, but how about preparing it at home and making the festival extra special for you and your loved ones? Here's a wonderful recipe of Plum Cake by Chef Jeneva Talwar from The Artful Baker that you should try making at home this Christmas. Don't forget to check out the tips that might help you make the best plum cake ever!
Cook Time: 1.35 hours
Difficulty Level: Easy
Recipe servings: Two 5/9 inch loaf tins
Preparation Time: 30 mins
Christmas 2017: Plum cake
Ingredients for Plum cake
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup figs chopped
- 1 cup dried apricots chopped
- 1/2cup dried ginger chopped
- Half cup candied orange peel chopped
- Three-Fourth cup Brandy
- 225 gms butter melted
- 380 gms flour
- 1.5 tsps baking powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Half tsp ground ginger
- Half tsp ground cloves
- Half tsp salt
- 300 gms breakfast sugar
- 150 gms packed brown sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 2 tbsp molasses
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup toasted walnuts
- Half cup apricot jam
- Half cup warm water
How to make a plum cake
- Stir together dried fruit, candied ginger, candied orange peel and brandy. Keep overnight.
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Butter two 9/5 inch loaf tins. Line them with butter paper.
- In a bowl mix dry ingredients. Flour, baking powder, spices and salt.
- In a mixer beat butter and both the sugars until smooth. Mix eggs one at a time followed by molasses and vanilla. Gradually add the flour mixture. Mix till smooth. Add the fruit mixture and walnuts.
- Divide the batter between the two tins. Bake for 1 hour and 35 minutes or till the tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and brush the top with more liquor. Remove and place on a wired rack.
- Heat the jam and water till smooth and glaze the top of the warmed cake.
Important tips by the Chef
- You can boil the dried fruit and candied fruit, strain and use immediately if running low on time.
- Brandy can be substituted with any other dark rum or orange flavoured liqueur.
- Use the best quality dried fruits available.
- Unglazed cakes can be shrink-wrapped and stored for up to one month in the fridge.
Merry Christmas 2018!