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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Cashew Toffee Crunch Chocolate Torte

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This torte had my name written on it; I was destined to make this beauty. Why?… listen to this. One hot, lazy afternoon I walk into a nearby Ross store and start browsing the baking aisle, where they have the baking pans and stuff. I immediately spot this set of 4 baby loaf pans. I had never seen those babies before and although pretty sure I would not have much use for them, I thought I would buy it. Heck, they were so cute, and for $3.99 for four of them, it seemed like a pretty good deal. Anyway, let’s just say I bought it. The next day, at the library, I come across this book, Small-Batch Baking for Chocolate Lovers and take it home with me. Now, I like to read cook books, specially those dealing with desserts, in bed at night before I go to sleep (hmmm..kinda weird, I know). I mean, I dream of desserts at night anyway…might as well have some new recipes to dream of :-). Coming back to the story; reading the book, I was VERY pleasantly surprised to find that most of the recipes in the book called for, guess what?…mini loaf pans…YAY! Isn’t that crazy…or is it just me? Either way, I had no problems deciding on what I wanted to bake first…cashew, crunchy toffee, dark ganache and brownie cake?…Oh yes, that’s the one! And for once, I had everything in my pantry, even cashews. And thus, I came to the above-mentioned conclusion. Well…!

 

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Here I have to say a few words about this book, Small-Batch Baking for Chocolate Lovers  – it is AMAZING. Authored by Debby Maugans, it has recipes for chocolate cakes, cookies, pies, muffins, puddings, even drinks…for two servings (one, in my case.. ;-)..). Other than the loaf pans, soup cans and mini tart pans are also used to bake the goodies in. And yes, you can expect many more recipes from the book on this blog. There…you are warned.

 

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Now, about the cake, it has three thin layers of dense, fudgy brownie cake with a cashew, toffee and ganache mixture filling in between. It is rich, it is crunchy and it melts in your mouth. I was afraid the cashew and the toffee would soften when mixed with the ganache, but nothing happened, it remained nice and crunchy. Make sure you use good quality chocolate, it definitely makes a difference.

 

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Cashew Toffee Crunch Chocolate Torte

Recipe source: Small-Batch Baking for Chocolate Lovers by Debby Maugans

Ingredients:

1 oz fine-quality semisweet chocolate, chopped

11/2 oz fine-quality unsweetened chocolate, chopped

11/2 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus butter for greasing the pan

3 tbsp. all-purpose flour

1/8 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

1 large egg

1/4 cup sugar

2 tsp heavy whipping cream

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Ganache ( recipe follows at the end)

1/2 cup dry-roasted, unsalted cashews, finely chopped

2 tbsp. toffee bits

Method:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degree F. Lightly butter a petite loaf pan ( 2- cup capacity, about 5 by 3 inches); line the bottom of the pan lengthwise and up the short ends with a strip of aluminium foil, allowing the ends to extend 11/2 inches above the edges. Lightly butter the foil and dust with flour, tapping out the excess. (I just used Baker’s Joy.) Set the pan aside.

Place the chocolates and butter in a small, microwave-safe bowl; microwave on medium power until soft. Stir until smooth. Let cool.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

Place the egg, sugar, cream, and vanilla in a small, deep mixing bowl. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat  on high speed until the mixture has lightened, about 30 seconds. Add the cooled, melted chocolate mixture, and beat on medium speed until blended, about 5 sec. Fold in the flour mixture with a rubber spatula until no streaks remain. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 mins. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool 20 mins; unmold the cake. Clean the loaf pan, and line it lengthwise with a piece of foil, extending the edges 11/2 inches over the sides of the pan.

Prepare the ganache. ( Recipe at the end)

Measure out 1/3 cup of the ganache and set aside. Stir the cashews and toffee bits into the remaining 1/2 cup ganache.

Cut the cake horizontally into three thin layers using a sharp knife. Place the bottom layer of the cake, cut side up, in the bottom of the lined pan. Using a rubber spatula, spread half of the cashew ganache mixture on the layer. Place the center cake layer on top and press down gently. Spread the remaining cashew ganache mixture. Place the top cake layer, cut side down, on top of the cashew ganache mixture, pressing down gently. Refrigerate to set the ganache, about 1 hour.

Using the ends of the foil, lift the cake out of the pan and place on a plate. Spread the reserved 1/3 cup of ganache over the top and sides of the cake. Garnish with whole cashews. Refrigerate to set the ganache, about 1 hour. Cut into slices while cold, and allow to come to room temperature before serving.

Ganache

4 oz premium-quality semisweet chocolate, broken into 1/2  oz pieces

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tbsp. unsalted butter

1 tbsp. sugar

Place the chocolate in a medium bowl.

Place the cream, butter, and sugar in a small saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar melts. Remove from heat, and pour over the chocolate in the bowl. Let stand 1 min, then stir until smooth. Let cool to room temperature.