Christmas Fruit Cake/ Kerala Plum Cake

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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!

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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!

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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.

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Taking this to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener!

Christmas Fruit Cake

Recipe source: lifescoops.blogspot.com

Ingredients:

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

Cake

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)
Method:

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.

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Christmas Fruit Cake in the Making…

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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.

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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!

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Brioche Cake with Caramel Custard Cream

 

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As soon as I spotted this recipe in The Cake Book by Tish Boyle, I knew I had to make it. The recipe sounded so fancy and like so much fun. And I have always wanted to, but had never baked a yeasted cake before. So this was the perfect occasion. And sure enough, the end result was an elegant yet simple, light and flaky Brioche cake filled with a soft, pillowy caramel custard cream…mmmmMMM!

 

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Caramel custard aka Flan is an extremely popular dessert in India, especially in my place, Kerala. This silky sweet pudding and the slightly bitter, amber-colored caramel on top makes for a great combination. It is one of those desserts that you absolutely love or completely hate.  It tastes heavenly and looks gorgeous if done right, but can be totally unappetizing if gone wrong. Everyone in my family happens to love a good caramel custard; everyone except me, that is. I have always been an ice cream fan. But the caramel custard cream here has caramel and custard mixed together and then some whipped cream folded in, resulting in a very light and fluffy caramelly (?) cream that I absolutely loved.

 

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Be patient and careful while making the custard cream, though. Take the pan immediately off the heat once the sugar has caramelized to a golden color. It will continue to cook and darken in the pan. Once off the heat, let the caramel cool down a wee bit, and only then add the hot milk to it. Add the milk little by little, whisking like crazy after each addition. I was so excited and impatient to make the custard that I immediately poured the hot milk into the HOT caramel all at once and the whole thing was a curdled mess and I had to throw that away… 😦

 

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The brioche dough is extremely soft but bakes up beautifully and has a thin tender golden crumb and is light and airy inside. The brioche is sliced into two and each layer is brushed with a rum-flavored soaking syrup and then filled with the custard cream. A dusting of  powdered sugar on top (which I totally forgot… 🙂 ..) and you’re done!

This is definitely not a rich dessert type of cake but rather, an extra special snack/breakfast cake or maybe a light dessert. Don’t let the long recipe scare you. Yes, it takes a few extra steps than a regular cake and some extra (read “a lot of”) time as well, for the proper rising and baking of the Brioche dough. But if you enjoy baking, then this cake is going to be a lot of fun. The sight and smell of the Brioche out of the oven alone will make you jump and grin with joy….well, I did… 😀 So, who wants a piece for tomorrow’s breakfast?… 😀

Taking this beauty  to Fiesta Friday#36 at The Novice Gardener!

 

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Brioche Cake with Caramel Custard Cream

Recipe source: The Cake Book by Tish Boyle

Ingredients:

Brioche Dough

1/4 cup whole milk

1 tbsp. honey

11/2 tsp active dry yeast

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tbsp. granulated sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup bread flour, or as needed

1/2 cup ( 1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp.

1 large egg, whisked with 1 tbsp. water for egg wash

2 tbsp. unblanched sliced almonds

 

Caramel Custard Cream

1 large egg

2 tbsp. cornstarch

11/3 cups whole milk, divided

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 tbsp. water

1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

pinch of salt

1/2 cup heavy cream

 

Rum Soaking Syrup

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup water

11/2 tbsp. dark rum

 

Powdered sugar for dusting

 

Method:

Brioche Dough

In a small saucepan, combine the milk and honey and heat until it registers 110 deg to 115 deg F on an instant read thermometer. Pour the mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer and sprinkle over the yeast. Let stand for 10 mins, until the yeast is creamy.

Transfer the bowl to the mixer stand and attach the paddle attachment. Mixing at low speed, gradually add the eggs, all-purpose flour, sugar and salt and mix until blended. Gradually add the bread flour. Mix at medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 mins. The dough should not stick to the sides of the bowl: if it does, add up to 2 tbsp. more bread flour, mixing until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl. Add the butter 1 tbsp. at a time, mixing until it is well blended. The dough will be very soft.

Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead by hand a few times to ensure that the butter is completely incorporated. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a medium buttered bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place for 11/2 to 2 hours, until the dough has doubled in volume.

Punch the dough down to deflate it, and knead it a few times. Return the dough to the bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at leas t 4 hours (or up to 12 hours). the dough should be double in volume: if it doesn’t, let it stand at room temp until it has.

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-3-inch springfoam pan. Divide the dough into 6 even pieces. Shape each piece into a ball. Arrange five of the balls along the edge of the pan, and place the last ball in the center. Flatten each ball gently with your palm to form a disk. Cover the pan and let the dough rise until it is puffed and almost fills the pan, about 1 hour.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 deg F.

Brush the dough with the egg wash and sprinkle over the almonds. Bake the cake for 30-35 mins, until it is a lovely golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 15 mins.

Remove the side of the pan and cool completely on the wire rack.

Caramel Cream

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and cornstarch. Whisk in 1/3 cup of the milk until smooth; set aside.

Place the remaining 1 cup milk in a small microwaveable cup and microwave at high until boiling, 11/2 to 3 mins.

Meanwhile, in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar with the water and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Increase the  heat to high and cook, without stirring, occasionally brushing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush, until the syrup caramelizes and turns a golden amber color. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the hot milk ( the mixture will bubble up). Return the pan to low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until any hardened caramel has dissolved and the mixture is smooth.

Whisk about 1/4 cup of the hot caramel mixture into the egg and cornstarch mixture. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until the custard comes to a boil. Continue to boil, whisking constantly, for 1 min. Remove the pan from the heat, scrape the bottom of the pan with a spatula, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the butter until melted. Immediately strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Whisk in the vanilla extract and salt.

Set the bowl containing the caramel custard in a large bowl filled about one-third full with ice water (be careful that the water doesn’t splash into the custard). Stir the custard frequently until it is slightly chilled, about 15 mins.

Cake Assembly

Using a long serrated knife, cut the cake horizontally in half to make 2 layers. Brush the cut side of each layer well with the rum syrup.

Remove the caramel custard from the refrigerator and beat vigorously with a rubber spatula until smooth. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the 1/2 cup heavy cream at high speed until it forms medium-stiff peaks. Gently fold the whipped cream into the caramel custard.

Spread the cream over the bottom layer of the cake (it will be a thick layer). Top with the other cake layer. Sprinkle the top of the cake with powdered sugar. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to 1 hour before serving.