Kerala Fruitcake (Plum Cake)
This fruitcake is a classic Christmas recipe in my house. When I was younger, I’d help my mom mix giant bowls of this batter so we could make enough loaves to send to just about all of our family members. For my mom, she found so much joy and pride in making this cake – it’s like she was sharing more than a piece of cake…she was sharing a piece of her memories with everyone around her.
The list of ingredients looks long, but the process is pretty simple. I’ve broken it down for you so hopefully it’s not too intimidating.
So, in the spirit of Christmas, here’s my take on Kerala-style fruitcake!
Some things worth noting before you get started:
1. You can use any dry fruit and/or nut combination you want.
2. You can make this non-alcoholic and substitute the liquor with apple cider or white grape juice!
3. You can lightly roast the nuts in ghee then add them to the batter.
Fruits & Liquor
- Dates, 1 cup, chopped
- Dried Cherries, 1/2 cup
- Golden Raisins, 1/2 cup
- Black Raisins, 1/2 cup
- Dried Cranberries, 1/2 cup
- Dried Candied Ginger, 1/2 cup, chopped
- Dried Pineapple, 1/2 cup, chopped
- Orange Peel, 1/2 cup (rind from 1 orange), chopped
- Lemon Peel, 1/2 cup, chopped
- Raw Cashews, 1/2 cup, chopped
- Sliced Almonds, 1/2 cup
- Spiced Rum, 1 cup
- Vanilla Brandy, 1/2 cup
- Orange Juice, 1/2 cup
- AP Flour, 1/4 cup
- Sugar, 1/2 cup
- Warm Water, 1/4 cup
- Vanilla Extract, 1 tbsp
- Butter, 2 tbsp
- Butter, 2 sticks
- Jaggery/Brown Sugar, 2 cups
- Eggs, 5
- AP Flour, 2 cups
- Baking Powder, 1 tsp
- Baking Soda, 1 tsp
- Salt, 1/2 tsp
- Green Cardamom, 1 tsp, ground
- Cloves, 1 tsp, ground
- Nutmeg, 1 tsp
- Cinnamon, 1 tsp
- Reserved Fruit & Nut Liquid, 1/4 cup
- Melted Ghee (optional)
HOW TO MAKE IT
Soaking the fruit. Put all of the chopped fruits and nuts into a mixing bowl then pour in the spiced rum, vanilla brandy, and orange juice. Mix together then cover and set aside for at least 3 days. *I will typically let my fruits soak for about 2 weeks. My mom soaks them for a year!
Once you’re ready to make the cake, use a mesh strainer or cheesecloth to extract as much liquid as you can from the fruits and nuts. Reserve the fruit and nut liquid (we’ll be using it later in the batter). Add the fruits and nuts into a food processor for 2-3 quick pulses to break them up into smaller pieces. Put the fruits and nuts back into the mixing bowl along with 1/4 cup of AP flour and mix together. *The flour prevents the fruits and nuts from clumping together.
The caramel. Before you turn on the stovetop, in a sauce pot add in the sugar with only 1 tbsp of warm water. Mix this together and then turn on the heat to medium. Let the sugar turn into an amber brown caramel color. You do not need to stir this just yet. It might not look like it for a few minutes, but the sugar will begin to melt and then brown.
Once it is brown, remove from heat. Let this cool slightly. With a silicone spatula in hand and ready to stir, carefully pour in the remaining warm water and vanilla. This will agitate the caramel, but once we return the pot back to heat, it will smooth out. Bring this mixture back to a boil for about 30 seconds and then drop in the butter. Once the butter is incorporated, turn off the heat and set aside.
The batter. In a large mixing bowl, add the butter and use a hand mixer to cream it really well. Once creamed, add in the jaggery/brown sugar and mix well. Add in the eggs, mixing in one by one. Now mix in the caramel really well. *If the caramel is sticking to the pot, turn on the heat to loosen it up again, but make sure it’s not piping hot when you pour it into the batter.
Now add in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. The batter should be thick and velvety now. Using a silicone spatula fold in the dried fruits and nuts along with the 1/4 cup of fruit and nut liquid.
Bake it. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour two loaf pans or a bundt pan. Pour in the batter three-fourths of the way full. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Stick a toothpick into the cake to check if it’s cooked all the way (the toothpick should come out clean if it’s done).
Transfer the cakes to a wire rack. Lightly brush the top of the cake with melted ghee (and some more of that fruit and liquor liquid if you want) then let cool completely. Enjoy!