The Indian rich plum cake is a flavorful cake made with dried fruits, nuts, and aromatic spices. It is popularly enjoyed during festive seasons and is commonly found at Indian bakeries. This plum cake recipe is made without eggs and alcohol, making it a delicious and festive cake that everyone can enjoy.
Rich plum cake, also known as Christmas plum cake or fruitcake, is a traditional cake that is often enjoyed during the holiday season. It is a dense and moist cake filled with various dried fruits, nuts, and spices. Plum cake is a popular cake in India and is commonly sold at Indian bakeries. Also popular as the Kerala plum cake, it holds significance during Christmas celebrations and is cherished for its rich flavors and moist texture, making it a delightful treat for all.
Contrary to its name, it does not contain actual plums but rather is made using dried fruits like raisins, currents, etc. Traditionally, this Indian Christmas cake is made by soaking the dried fruits in alcohol to infuse rich flavors into it. However, my recipe here is an eggless and alcohol-free version of the traditional plum cake.
The preparation of rich plum cake usually involves three main steps. To infuse flavors in the dried fruits and to plump them up, they are soaked overnight in fruit juice. The next step is to make caramel using sugar and jaggery. This infuses a deep brown hue into the cake. Finally, we make the cake batter using flour, spices, soaked fruits, and caramel that is baked to perfection. Follow this recipe to make a delicious and moist rich plum cake without using eggs or alcohol.
Why you will love this recipe?
- Eggless and alcohol-free: This rich plum cake recipe is made without eggs and alcohol. It allows a wider range of people to enjoy the deliciousness of plum cake without compromising their dietary preferences.
- Moist and flavorful: This plum cake is moist and has rich flavors. The dried fruits soaked in fruit juice contribute to the cake's moist texture and enhance its taste. The blend of aromatic spices adds a depth of flavor, making it a truly enjoyable treat.
- Shelf life: The Kerala plum cake has a good shelf life. It can be prepared in advance and stored for several weeks, allowing the flavors to mature and develop over time. This aspect makes it an excellent choice for gifting or for enjoying throughout the festive season.
To make the caramel and cake batter:
Caramel: I am using white sugar and jaggery that will be used in this Kerala plum cake recipe.
Flour: I am making this cake using all-purpose flour (plain flour or maida).
Spices: I am using ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground cloves, and ginger powder.
Wet ingredients: We will need orange juice, unsalted butter, condensed milk, and vanilla extract.
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
To soak dried fruits:
I am using golden raisins, black raisins, dried berries, tutti frutti, and fresh orange juice.
Soak the dried fruits
Step 1: Take raisins, currants, etc. in a small glass bowl. Add orange juice just enough to cover them (depending on the size of the bowl, you will need ½-¾ cup).
Step 2: Mix well and cover with a cling wrap. Place the dried fruits in the refrigerator for one day, or up to one week. Strain the liquid from the soaked fruits. Use the soaked fruits in the cake batter and reserve the liquid for later use.
Step 3: In a large bowl, sift in the dry ingredients - all-purpose flour, cinnamon powder, ground nutmeg, ground cloves, ginger powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set it aside.
Make the caramel
Step 4: Place a saucepan on medium heat. Add ¼ cup sugar and let it caramelize. Do not stir for the first 3-4 minutes. Once the sugar melts and begins to caramelize, add the jaggery. Keep stirring continuously until the jaggery melts and the caramel gets a dark color. Turn off the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes.
Step 5: Once it cools down slightly, carefully add the water. Turn on the heat and keep stirring continuously. Let it cook for 4-5 minutes until the caramel begins to thicken slightly.
Step 6: Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool down. The caramel will thicken further as it cools down.
Make the batter and bake
Step 7: Next, add orange juice, unsalted butter, and brown sugar to the prepared caramel syrup. Add the soaked dry fruits, condensed milk, vanilla extract, almonds, cashew, lemon zest, and orange zest.
Step 8: Place it on medium heat and simmer until the butter melts. Keep stirring continuously. Turn off the heat and let it cool down for 5 minutes.
Step 9: Add the sifted dry ingredients to this liquid mixture. Take the reserved orange juice from the soaked fruits and add ¼ of the juice to the batter. Mix the batter well. If the batter is thick, add 1-2 tablespoons of orange juice and adjust the consistency.
Step 10: Pour the batter into the prepared tin. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 1-1½ hours. Do not open the oven door for the first hour of baking. To check if the cake is done, insert a skewer in the middle and see if it comes out clean. The cake can take between 1 hour to 1½ hours to be fully baked depending on the oven.
Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Take it out of the pan and let it cool completely on a wire rack at room temperature before slicing.
Dried fruits and nuts: Use a variety of dried fruits and nuts in this eggless Christmas fruit cake recipe. This will help to create a more complex flavor profile in the cake. I am using raisins, tutti frutti (candied papaya), and dried berries in my recipe. Indian rich plum cake also includes black currants, prunes, figs, candied orange peels, and dates as other common dried fruits. This cake uses cashews, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and hazelnuts as some of its common nuts.
Soaking the dried fruits: I am soaking the dried fruits in the refrigerator for 24 hours. however, if you want to make it on the same day, place the dried fruits and juice in a saucepan and place it on low heat for 5-6 minutes. this way, they will soften and plump up quickly. You can soak them for up to one week in the refrigerator. I have used orange juice for soaking them. Other good options are grape juice, apple juice, and cranberry juice.
Making dark caramel: Making caramel is a critical step in getting the right taste and color in the cake. I am adding jaggery to give the caramel a deep color; however, if you don't have access to it, use brown sugar instead. Do not disturb the sugar for the first 3-4 minutes. Add the jaggery only after the sugar begins to caramelize and keep stirring after adding the jaggery. Turn off the heat and let it sit for a few minutes before adding water. Once you add water, turn on the heat and stir the caramel.
Caramel alternative: Making caramel at home gives you the best results in terms of taste, texture, and color of the cake. However, if you want to skip it, use store-bought molasses as an alternative.
Batter consistency: The batter consistency can slightly vary depending on how much the fruits have soaked the juice. To adjust the batter consistency, use strained orange juice that you get after the soaking process. Add one tablespoon of the juice at a time and mix. Check the consistency and add more as needed. I have used 6 tablespoons in this recipe to get the batter to a dropping consistency.
Evenly distribute the fruits and nuts: Distribute the soaked fruits and nuts into the cake batter evenly when folding them. This will help ensure that every slice of the cake has a balanced amount of delicious fruits and nuts.
Cake tin: I have used an 8x4 inch loaf pan for baking this cake. You can also use a 6-inch round cake tin. To prevent the cake from sticking to the tin, grease it with butter or cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.
Allow the cake to cool before slicing: Allow it to cool completely in the tin for at least 30 minutes before removing it or slicing it. This will help the cake set and retain its shape, ensuring neat slices without crumbling.
Yes, you can customize the selection of dried fruits and nuts according to your preference. Popular choices include raisins, berries, tutti frutti, currants, candied peels, cashews, and almonds. Feel free to use dry fruits of your choice to create your desired flavor profile.
Soaking the dried fruits allows them to absorb moisture and impart a rich flavor to this Kerala style plum cake. Soak the fruits for a minimum of a few hours or preferably overnight. This helps to plump them up and enhance their texture.
Absolutely! Indian plum cake often features warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. However, you can adjust the intensity of these spices according to personal taste preferences. You can increase or decrease the amount of spices or even experiment with additional spices like Allspice to create a flavor profile that suits your liking.
Allow the cake to cool completely before storing it. Place the cooled cake in an airtight container or a cake tin with a tight-fitting lid. Store the cake in a cool and dry area of your kitchen or pantry. If you plan to consume the cake after a few days, storing it in the refrigerator is a good option. To prevent the cake from drying out, wrap the cake properly in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container. When ready to serve, allow the cake to come to room temperature before serving it. Store it in the refrigerator for up to one month. If you want to store the cake for a longer period, freezing is a suitable option. Wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap, followed by an additional layer of aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn. Place the wrapped cake in a freezer-safe container or sealable freezer bag. You can store the frozen plum cake for up to 3 months.
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Rich Plum Cake / Indian Fruit Cake
- ¼ cup golden raisins
- ¼ cup black raisins
- ¼ cup dried berries
- ½ cup tutti frutti
- ½-¾ cup orange juice
Dry ingredients for the cake batter:
Soaking the dried fruits:
- Take golden raisins, black raisins, dried berries, and tutti frutti in a small glass bowl. Add orange juice just enough to cover them (depending on the size of the bowl, you will need ½-¾ cup).
- Mix well and cover with a cling wrap and place them in the refrigerator for one day (can be soaked for up to one week in the fridge).
- Once the fruits are soaked, strain the liquid from it. The soaked fruits will be used in the cake batter. Reserve the liquid to be used later.
Making the caramel:
- Place a saucepan or frying pan on medium heat. Add ¼ cup sugar and let it caramelize. Do not stir for the first 3-4 minutes.
- Once the sugar melts and begins to caramelize, add the jaggery. Keep stirring continuously until the jaggery melts and the caramel gets a dark color.
- Turn off the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes.
- Once it cools down slightly, carefully add the water. Turn on the heat and keep stirring continuously. Let it cook for 4-5 minutes until the caramel begins to thicken slightly.
- Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool down. The caramel will thicken further as it cools down.
Making the cake:
- Line a loaf tin with baking paper. Preheat oven to 300 F (150 C).
- In a large bowl, sift in the dry ingredients - all-purpose flour, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground cloves, ginger powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set it aside.
- Add orange juice, unsalted butter, and brown sugar to the prepared caramel. Add the soaked fruits, condensed milk, vanilla extract, almonds, cashew, lemon zest, and orange zest.
- Place it on medium heat and simmer until the butter melts. Keep stirring continuously. Turn off the heat and let it cool down for 5 minutes.
- Add the sifted dry ingredients to this liquid mixture. Take the reserved orange juice from the soaked fruits and add ¼ of the juice to the batter.
- Mix the batter well. If the batter is thick, add 1-2 tablespoons of orange juice and adjust the consistency.
- Pour the batter into the prepared tin.
- Place in the preheated oven and bake for 1-1½ hours. Do not open the oven door for the first one hour of baking.
- To check if the cake is done, insert a skewer in the middle and see if it comes out clean. Depending on the oven, it can take between 1 hour to 1½ hours to be fully baked.
- Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Take it out of the pan and let it cool completely at room temperature.
- Dust with icing sugar, slice and serve.