Christmas Fruit Cake/ Kerala Plum Cake 2015


Happy new year everyone!

You remember this big Christmas bundt cake I made last year?  This time, I decided to change it up a bit and  bake my fruit cakes in my bundlette pan and make mini bundts. And much to my joy, it turned out really well. So cute and adorable…don’t you think? And perfect for gifting!



This time, I skipped on the figs and apricots, and just used dates, raisins, cherries and prunes. I got about 14 bundlettes out of the recipe and the baking time was 25-30 minutes…you might want to start checking at 20 minutes though, just to be safe.


That’s it for this post…See ya next time guys!



Plum Buckle


The little monkey loves fruits and we always make sure we have a variety of fruits all stocked up in our refrigerator. And sometimes (read ‘most often’), we go overboard and I usually find myself staring at all those overripe fruits and wondering what to do with them before they go bad. Usually most of them end up as fruit smoothies that we make in bulk which lasts us a whole week. But sigh, whatever are you supposed to do with almost 4 pounds of plum, all ready and ripe at the same time? Well, you could make a buckle or two…a yummy plum buckle, that is!


A buckle is a rustic, old-fashioned cake with fruits mixed in and they are usually topped with a cinnamon streusel. The plums can be replaced with blueberries, peaches, apples, pears or whatever seasonal fruits that you have on hand. Here, the slight tartness of the plums along with the sweet cake makes for a very refreshing and tasty flavor profile. Also, the contrast of colors from the baked bright red plums and the light-colored cake makes it a stunner of a cake.


The cake has a texture similar to that of a very moist coffee cake and it smells divine thanks to all that fruit and the cinnamon streusel on top. As good as it is as a simple snack cake, it tastes even better slightly warmed and with a scoop of vanilla ice cream…yum! Make sure you push the fruit slices well into the batter, though, since it rises a bit while baking.



Plum Buckle

Recipe source: Williams Sonoma


11/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp

1 cup plus 1 tbsp. sugar

2 eggs, at room temp

6 to 8 plums (about 1 pound) halved, pitted and each cut into 4 slices

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon


Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch round or 8-inch square cake pan with vegetable oil spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper and coat the paper with more spray.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat together the butter and the 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture and mix well.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Poke the plum slices into the batter, placing them close together. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and the 1 Tbs. sugar and sprinkle over the surface.

Bake until the top is golden, the edges pull away from the pan, and a skewer or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for about 30 minutes before serving.

Lemon Blueberry Bread


You know this is going to be good, right?…I mean, lemon and blueberries together, it just cannot go wrong.


I always have at least two boxes of blueberries in my freezer. I buy them fresh and freeze it, and use it in everything from smoothies to muffins to pancakes and morning cereal. Same with the lemons, I always have a few lying around in the refrigerator.


Tangy, sweet and moist, it is one perfect quick bread. It smells wonderful and looks amazing, thanks to the beautiful marbling from the blueberries. The sugar and lemon juice glaze on top gives it an extra boost of lemonyness. This time though, I chose not to glaze the bread since I wanted to keep it plain and simple.

Although the recipe specifies a 60-70 minutes baking time, start checking at 50 minutes.


Lemon Blueberry Bread

Recipe coutesy: Taste of Home


1/3 cup butter, melted

1 cup sugar

3 tbsp. lemon juice

2 eggs

11/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup milk

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1/2 cup chopped nuts

2 tbsp. grated lemon peel


2 Tbsp lemon juice

1/4 cup sugar


Preheat oven to 350 deg F.

In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, lemon juice and eggs. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir into egg mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Fold in the blueberries, nuts and lemon peel.

Transfer to a greased 8-in by 4-in loaf pan. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan to the rack.

Combine glaze ingredients; drizzle over bread. Cool completely.

Note: If using frozen blueberries, use without thawing to avoid discoloration of the batter.

Christmas Fruit Cake/ Kerala Plum Cake



Finally the Christmas Fruit Cake is ready. Remember this? And guess what? I have found THE recipe. After years of trying many many recipes ranging from “not bad” to “it’s ok” to “well, that’s it, I’m done!”, I have fallen in love with this particular recipe. And yes, it has managed to do the unthinkable — convert me from a hardcore fruit cake loather to a budding fruit cake lover…😍.

Doesn’t it look absolutely gorgeous?…so dark and perfect!


This recipe comes from the lovely Shema George at Life Scoops. This recipe is her family’s own heirloom recipe, handed down over three generations. It has got to be good, right? And she has very generously shared with us all this awesome recipe here. Although you can find the recipe at the end of this post here, I really urge you to go visit Shema and read everything about this wonderful cake and also about her family’s Christmas traditions. She also has some very valuable tips on making this fruit cake perfect. Thank you so much Shema!


I soaked the fruits for about 4 weeks. Then I baked it, brushed it lovingly with rum, wrapped it tenderly, first in parchment paper, then some foil and finally put it in a ziplock bag and stored it away in a secret place, away from all the hungry monkeys in my house 😀.

The recipe yields 2 9-inch cakes, but I chose to bake this in my Bundt pan. The baking time in the recipe says about 1 hour, but my cake took almost an extra 20-25 minutes. So start checking at the recommended baking time and allow more time if needed.


Taking this to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener!

Christmas Fruit Cake

Recipe source:


Soaking the fruits

2/3 cup sugar

5 cups dry fruits (raisins, sultanas, currants, cranberries, cherries, apricots, figs, prunes, dates)

1 cup water

1/2 cup brandy/rum


2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking Soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground cloves

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1 3/8 cups (2 sticks and 3 tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 3/4 cups powdered sugar

5 eggs, separated

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 tbsp orange marmalade

1/2 tsp orange zest

3 tbsp lime juice

3 tbsp powdered sugar

1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, cashew nuts)

Soaking the fruits (A few weeks, preferably a couple of months ahead of baking the cake)

Finely chop the dry fruits.

In a non-stick sauce pan, add the sugar and let it caramelize. Once the sugar caramelizes or turns into brown color, take the sauce pan off the heat and carefully add water little by little. Be careful to avoid splashes as the caramelized sugar would be extremely hot. Stir well.

Add the chopped dry fruits and reheat mixture until it starts boiling.

Take it off the heat and add brandy or rum.

Let the mixture cool completely; cover and seal in an air tight container.

Making the cake batter

Preheat the oven to 350 degree F.

Grease the cake pan and line it with parchment paper. Since I used a Bundt pan, I just greased it.

Sift the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices (cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg) and keep it aside.

Mix the butter and sugar together and add the egg yolk one by one until everything is incorporated.

Add the soaked dry fruits and mix.

Stir in the flour mixture in batches and mix.

Add vanilla, orange marmalade, orange zest and the chopped nuts.

In a big bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Add the lime juice and powdered sugar and mix again.

Folding egg whites into cake – Pour 1/2 of the beaten egg whites into the cake batter, and stir it in. This thins and lightens the batter, making it easier to incorporate the rest of the egg whites. Mix until there are no visible streaks of egg white in the batter.

Pour remaining egg whites into the batter – This time, instead of stirring, gently lift batter from the bottom of the bowl and gently fold it over top of the egg whites. Handle the batter gently, in order to preserve the foam as much as possible. Repeat, until the egg whites are dispersed throughout the batter but still visible.

Pour the cake batter into prepared pans and bake for 1 hour or until the inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Storing the cake

Let the cake cool completely

Prick holes in the cake with a toothpick and brush/drizzle brandy or rum.

Wrap and seal the cake with parchment paper, followed by aluminum foil; cling wrap it and store it in Ziploc bags.

Repeat the process of feeding the cake with rum/brandy occasionally, to keep it moist and rich.

Christmas Fruit Cake in the Making…


Back in India, like elsewhere, fruit cakes are all the rage during the Christmas season. Popularly known as Plum Cakes, these rustic fruits and nuts–filled cakes are made well in advance, giving it enough time to soak in all the boozy goodness. The fruits are chopped up and soaked in rum/brandy and caramel for a good number of weeks, even months before being incorporated into the cake. Once baked, more rum/brandy is poured or brushed into the cake frequently (known as “feeding the cake”) and wrapped up and stored away till it is ready to be cut.


Now, I am not a fan of plum cakes, but I still try to make it every year. I have used a lot of recipes but have not been totally happy with any of them. This year, it’s a new recipe and I hope it comes out really good and ends my quest for that perfect plum cake recipe. Will keep you guys posted!


Fruitcake Cookies

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Trust me when I tell you these cookies are fabulous, trust me again when I tell you that these are little slices of heaven! While I am at it, let me also tell you these sweet things are good for you, 😉I mean there is fruit in it, lots and lots of fruits, and nuts, and honey, and booze, and some butter and sugar too…YUM! And no, I don’t like fruit cakes, not my favorite; but I love these. So does my husband, who loves fruit cakes. And my point is?…make these as soon as possible; you won’t regret it, I promise!

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The recipe is by the sweetest Ina Garten. Love her, love her recipes…simple and doable, yet very sophisticated and classy, just like these beauties ☺️.


The chopped fruits and nuts are soaked in sherry, honey, lemon juice and a pinch of salt, and allowed to rest overnight so that the fruits are infused and plump with all that goodness. I love that it is a slice-and-bake cookie; no scooping, no shaping, when you are ready to bake, just take it out of the freezer, slice and bake away…how easy is that? And the best part, it makes two batches or logs of cookie dough, which means, you can have one log in the freezer to enjoy later.

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These bejeweled cookies are more on the chewier side but slightly crisp on the outside. The powdered cloves in the dough lend these cookies a very festive and bright flavor and aroma. Perfect for the season!

Sending these yummy cookies to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener.


Fruitcake Cookies

Recipe source : Ina Garten


1/2 pound dried figs

1/4 pound raisins

2 ounces candied cherries, coarsely chopped

2 ounces dried apricots, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoonhoney

2 tablespoons dry sherry

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

6 ounces chopped pecans

Kosher salt

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 cup superfine sugar

1/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

1 extra-large egg

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour


Snip off the hard stems of the figs with scissors or a small knife and coarsely chop the figs. In a medium bowl, combine the figs, raisins, cherries, apricots, honey, sherry, lemon juice, pecans, and a pinch of salt. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit overnight at room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, cloves, superfine sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the egg and mix until incorporated. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt just until combined. Don’t over mix! Add the fruits and nuts, including any liquid in the bowl.

Divide the dough in half and place each half on the long edge of a 12 by 18-inch piece of parchment or waxed paper. Roll each half into a log, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4-inch thick, making an 18-inch-long roll. Refrigerate the dough for several hours, or until firm.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

With a small, sharp knife, cut the logs into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place the slices 1/2-inch apart on ungreased sheet pans and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly golden.

Pineapple Mousse Cake


I have been searching high and low for a good pineapple cake recipe for a long time now, only to be disappointed each time. I sure found some very interesting recipes using anywhere from a truckload of ingredients to just two ingredients. The recipes I tried were either not pineapply (that’s a word, right?) enough for me or turned out gummy and mushy. I did not try the 2-ingredients pineapple cake which uses just an Angel food cake mix and a can of crushed pineapples. It is said to yield a surprisingly yummy cake in spite of just the 2 ingredients. Have any of you tried that particular recipe? If you are interested, you can find the recipe here.

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Anyway, once I was done experimenting, I decided to just convert a fabulous yellow cake into a pineapple cake by adding crushed pineapples and juice to it, and then amp it up by smothering on a luscious pineapple mousse on top. I was happy with the results….it is very tender and moist, and has a bite from the crushed pineapples. The pineapple mousse couldn’t be easier; just some heavy cream, vanilla pudding mix and pineapple jello mix, and you have a delectable pudding-like mousse that you can eat by the spoonful. Find its strawberry variation here.

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Pineapple Mousse Cake

Yellow cake recipe: Bakepedia by Dede Wilson, altered.


2¾ cups all-purpose flour

2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces

1⅔ cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 large eggs, at room temperature

2/3 cup whole milk, at room temperature

1/3 cup pineapple juice drained from the crushed pineapples

1 (8 oz) can of crushed pineapples, well drained


Position the rack in the center of your oven. Preheat to 350˚ F. Coat the inside of a 9-inch by 13-inch pan, line bottom with parchment, then spray parchment.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl to combine and aerate; set aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar gradually and beat until very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice. Beat in vanilla.

Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down after each addition, allowing each egg to be absorbed before continuing. Add the flour mixture in four additions, alternating with the milk first and then the juice. Begin and end with the flour mixture and beat briefly until smooth. Fold in the crushed pineapples by hand. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick shows a few moist crumbs. The cake will have begun to come away from the sides of the pan. Cool on rack for 10 minutes. Unmold, peel off parchment, and place directly on rack to cool completely.

Pineapple Mousse:

1 cup heavy cream

2 tbsp instant vanilla pudding mix

2 tbsp pineapple jello mix

Mix the ingredients together and whip until soft peaks form.

Hawaiian Guava Cake



I first heard about this guava cake from my cousin Manju who lives in California. Every three weeks or so we have these long phone conversations where we update each other on stuff that has happened since we last talked. Along with gossips and stories from India and elsewhere, we also talk about food. She is a fantastic cook who also loves baking, and is the one who regularly lets me know about this new recipe in that blog and that cake in this magazine. It was during one of those fun chats that she told me about this Hawaiian cake which was all the rage in California ( this was a while back, and she also gave me the name of the particular bakery, whose name I now forget). She suggested I try this recipe from The Polynesian Kitchen and I promised her I would, soon. I bookmarked the recipe and then, like always, forgot about it.




Now, I love guava, both the white ones and the red ones. It was a fruit we regularly enjoyed in India. There used to be two big guava trees in my grandparents’ house and my sister and I would climb up the trees, pluck the big, round, juicy fruits fresh and eat it. It was also used to make juices, jams and jellies. A few weeks back, I came across this guava buttercream crafted by the lovely Bonnie at the awesome blog, Thirsty for Tea. She uses guava paste in her recipe. This reminded me about guava cake, and I decided to make this. Thanks Bonnie!

This is a very exotic, very tasty cake. If you are a guava fan, you will love this one. My only gripe is that it uses a boxed cake mix, which I am not a huge fan of. I enjoy the art of sifting, scooping, and measuring flour, sugar and whatever ( and making a total mess of my kitchen ) so much, that I only use a cake mix when I absolutely have to. You could use either a yellow cake or a strawberry cake mix; I used the latter, which gives it a beautiful pink shade. I took this beauty to a party where it was much admired, loved and gobbled up by everyone. Thanks Manju chechi!

Packing this to Fiesta Friday #28 at The Novice Gardener.




Hawaiian Guava Cake

Recipe courtesy: The Polynesian Kitchen


1 pkg Yellow Cake Mix or Strawberry Cake Mix

1 C Guava juice, or the amount called for in the cake mix

3 Eggs

1/3 C Vegetable oil

1 8-ounce Package cream cheese, softened

1/3 C Sugar

1 tsp Vanilla

1 small pkg Cool Whip, thawed

2 C Guava juice

1/2 C Sugar

1/4 C Cornstarch


Bake the cake according to package directions, substituting guava juice for water.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat cream cheese with hand mixer until fluffy. Add sugar and vanilla and beat in.

Slowly fold in the Cool Whip and refrigerate until ready to use.

In a medium sauce pan, bring the 2 cups guava juice and sugar to a boil. Make a paste out of the cornstarch and a small amount of water. Remove guava juice from heat and stir in the cornstarch mixture. Return to heat and bring back to a boil and boil for one minute. Cool in refrigerator.

To assemble: Thickly ice the cake with all of the cream cheese mixture. Glaze the top of the cake with guava gel. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Mango Yogurt Mousse



For me there is no other fruit that evokes the feeling of summer more than a ripe, golden, juicy mango. In my mother tongue, Malayalam, mango is called Mambazham or Maanga. Back in India, as a child, the mango season would be in full swing during our long summer vacations, when we were free and could do as we pleased; no studies, no homework, just playing, roaming around with cousins and friends, eating and sleeping. Sigh! Those were the days. The trees in our backyard and neighbourhood would be filled with mangoes, the fruit and vegetable shops filled with different varieties of mangoes — Neelam, Alphonso, Malgoa, Banganappalli, Priyoor, Karpooram, just to name a few.  And that heady, sweet smell of ripe mangoes…ooh, makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

Our favorite way of eating a mango was just biting off the peel and devouring the sugar-sweet, golden-yellow flesh inside, leaving a very sad and famished-looking pit with not even a trace of yellow on it 🙂 Various dishes were also made with the mangoes; the raw ones used for pickling and curries, and the ripe ones used to make desserts and other sweet treats. The mango, rightfully called the ” King of Fruits ” is high in vitamins A, C and E, and an excellent source of fiber and iron. It is known to fight cancer, keep cholesterol in check, improve digestion and is also good for your eyes, skin and hair.




This mousse is very light, sweet, and airy with a pleasant, silky smooth texture. You could use canned mango puree or freshly pureed mango, whichever you have on hand. It is easy to prepare and makes for a gorgeous dessert for your next party. Although the recipe says 4 servings, I easily got almost 7 servings out of it.


Mango Yogurt Mousse

Recipe source: The Best of Gourmet, 1992 Edition


1 envelope ( 1 tbsp.) unflavored gelatin

1/4 cup cold water

2 cups mango puree

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup plain yogurt

1 cup well-chilled heavy cream


In a small saucepan sprinkle the gelatin over 1/4 cup cold water, let it soften for 1 min. Heat the mixture over low heat, stirring, until the gelatin is dissolved.

In a blender blend together the mango puree, the sugar, and the vanilla. Add the gelatin mixture and blend well.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the yogurt. In a chilled bowl beat the cream until it holds stiff peaks, fold it into the mango mixture gently but thoroughly. Transfer to individual dessert bowls/ glasses.

Chill the mousses for at least 4 hours or overnight. Garnish with mango slices.


Fresh Orange Jello

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I must have been eight or nine when I watched Jurassic Park with my cousins. After all these years, not much about the movie remains in my memory except for those scary dinosaurs and one particular scene. Which scene, you ask? The green jelly scene, of course. The scene where the little girl (Lex…wasn’t that her name?) starts to eat a spoon of that bright green jello, sees a dinosaur (who else) and her hand starts shaking and the jello starts to wobble. Remember? And to this day, the sight of colorful jello takes me right back to those dinosaurs and my childhood  :-).


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Enough about the dinos, did you know that gelatin is a superfood? I had no idea until I read this fabulous article by the lovely Katie aka Wellness Mama. It contains collagen which is supposed to be good for our skin, hair, nails, joints and it even improves cellulite and tightens the skin, plus a multitude of other benefits. Now, I’m not a health nut by any means; actually, far from it, considering all the sugar, flour and butter I dabble in. But I’ve been trying to include gelatin in my diet for some time and this recipe sure makes it easy for me, plus the added benefits of fresh fruit.




Fresh Orange Jello

Recipe from Knox Gelatin


4 envelopes unflavored gelatin

1 cup cold fruit juice

3 cups fruit juice, heated to boiling

2 tbsp. sugar or honey, optional


Sprinkle gelatin over cold juice in a large bowl; let stand 1 min. Add hot juice and stir until gelatin completely dissolves, about 5 mins.

Stir in sugar or honey if desired. Pour into 13 by 9by 2 inch pan.

Refrigerate until firm, about 3hours. Cut into desired shape. Store in refrigerator.