November 27, 2012

Christmas Fruit Cake / Kerala Plum Cake

Deck the hall with boughs of holly,
It is the season to be jolly,
Don we now our gay apparel
Troll the ancient Christmas carol,
See the blazing yule before us,
Strike the harp and join the chorus
Follow me in merry measure,
While I tell of Christmas treasure,
Fast away the old year passes,
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses!
Sing we joyous all together,
Heedless of the wind and weather


Wow – Christmas is almost here and it is definitely the season to be jolly. For me, this is absolutely the best time of the year, with the beautifully decorated houses, the white snow-laden ground, the shopping and gift giving, jingling Christmas music all around and most importantly the amazing tasty treats that this holiday season brings, like the Christmas Fruit Cake, Christmas pudding, Stollen, Eggnog, Panettone …the list just goes on and on !!

I remember, how as a child, I would long for Christmas season to come along, so that our family could take its traditional vacation to my paternal and maternal grandparents' homes. Some of my fondest childhood memories were from these celebrations, feasts and the fun that we all had with our family and friends. Every year my uncle used to secretly dress up as Santa Claus and show up at the front door, handing us gifts that we had been asking for all through the year. We always used to be so much in awe of Santa and were true believers until the day we caught him red-handed without his usual white beard and hat ;) On Christmas eve, my uncle would drive us kids around town, showing us the decorated houses and lights. In India, led-lit paper stars of various shapes, sizes and colors are usually used to adorn homes during this season so we would take turns rating the stars and decked homes as we drove around the neighborhood.


For the annual Christmas feast, my grandmother would make her special Biryani, Christmas cake and pudding, as well as a host of other goodies and today I am going to share her decadently delicious Xmas cake recipe with you all. This is our family's own heirloom recipe, traditionally handed down over three generations. I still remember when my mom successfully used this recipe to make 100 Kilograms (approx. 220 pounds) of cake for a YWCA bake sale, to raise funds for the uplift of  under-privileged orphan girls back in India. As the lone teen participant/ volunteer in a group of 15 ladies working together to bake these cakes, I truly enjoyed the multiple hours spent in chopping the tubs of dry fruit, soaking it in rum and mixing all the ingredients in multiple Uralis (big steel vessels) and storing this mixture in large Bharanis (Big Ceramic pots). The mixture was left to soak for a few months prior to Christmas, and then baked at a local bakery, in commercial ovens better suited for such large-scale operations. I was totally in awe of the whole experience and was especially proud of my mom for leading these efforts and also being a part of it.


This sinfully rich, delectable, spiced cake is full of dry fruits aged and soaked in Rum. Indulging in a slice of this baked goodness with its moist, delicious texture and intoxicating taste, is all that it takes to make me forget the year-long wait for this wonderful season to roll by. Wish you all a wonderful and Merry Christmas !!


History of Christmas Cake

Christmas cake is an English tradition that began as plum porridge. People ate the porridge on Christmas Eve, using it to line their stomachs after a day of fasting. Soon dried fruit, spices and honey were added to the porridge mixture, and eventually it turned into Christmas pudding.

In the 16th century, oatmeal was removed from the original recipe, and butter, wheat flour and eggs were added. These ingredients helped hold the mixture together and in what resulted in a boiled plum cake. Richer families that had ovens began making fruit cakes with marzipan, an almond sugar paste, for Easter. For Christmas, they made a similar cake using seasonal dried fruit and spices. The spices represented the exotic eastern spices brought by the Wise Men. This cake became known as "Christmas cake."
Christmas cakes are made many different ways, but generally they are variations on classic fruitcake. They can be light, dark, moist, dry, heavy, spongy, leavened, unleavened, etc. They are made in many different shapes, with frosting, glazing, a dusting of confectioner's sugar or plain.

The traditional Scottish Christmas cake, also known as the Whisky Dundee, is very popular. It is a light crumbly cake with currants, raisins, cherries and Scotch whisky. Other types of Christmas cakes include an apple crème cake and a mincemeat cake. The apple crème cake is made with apples, other fruit, raisins, eggs, cream cheese and whipping cream. The mincemeat cake is made with traditional mincemeat or vegetarian mincemeat, flour, eggs, etc. It can also be steamed as a Christmas pudding.

All Christmas cakes are made in advance. Many make them in November, keeping the cake upside down in an airtight container. A small amount of brandy, sherry or whisky is poured into holes in the cake every week until Christmas. This process is called “feeding” the cake.



Types of fruit cake
  • Light Fruitcake: This type is made with light-colored ingredients such as granulated sugar, light corn syrup, almonds, golden raisins, pineapple, apricots and the like.
  • Dark Fruitcake: Darker ingredients are used such as molasses, brown sugar, and darker-colored fruits like raisins, prunes, dates, cherries, pecans and walnuts.
  • Citron: Those who do not like fruitcake generally point the finger at the candied citron or fruits used in the cake. Candied citron is made from the thick peel of the citrus fruit of the same name. Candied fruit, most commonly pineapple, cherry and citrus rind, is made by dipping or boiling pieces of fruit in heavy syrup and then drying them. They are often rolled in granulated sugar after the drying process. If you don't like candied fruits or peels, try substituting plain dried fruit pieces in your fruitcake.
Yields - Two 9 inch round cakes

Ingredients
Soaking the fruits
2/3 Cup (150gm) - Sugar
5 Cups (600 gms) - Dry Fruits(Raisins, Sultanas, Currants, Cranberries, Cherries, Apricots, Figs, Prunes, Dates)
1 Cup - Water
1/2 Cup - Brandy/Rum

Ingredients for Cake
2 1/2 Cup (275 gms) - All Purpose Flour (Maida)      
1 ½ Tsp - Baking powder
½ Tsp - Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp - Salt
1/4 Tsp - Cloves
3/4 Tsp - Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp - Nutmeg  powder
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1 3/8 Cup (310 gms) - Butter (Refer Conversion chart below)
2 ¾ Cup (310 gms) - Powdered Sugar
5 – Egg Yolks    
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1 Tsp- Vanilla essence
4 Tbsp - Orange marmalade
½ Tsp - Orange Zest (Refer Notes)
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5 - Egg Whites
3 Tbsp - Lime Juice
3 Tbsp - Powdered sugar
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1 Cup - Chopped nuts (walnuts, cashew nuts)

Directions
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 2/3 cups (150gm) 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 ½ Cup Brandy or Rum
  • Let the mixture cool completely; cover and seal in an air tight container
Making the cake batter
  • Preheat the oven to 350F/ 175C
  • Grease the cake pan and line it with parchment paper.
  • 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 essence, Orange marmalade, Orange Zest and chopped nuts
  • In a big bowl, beat the egg white until they form stiff peaks. Add the lime juice and powdered sugar and mix again.
  • Folding egg white 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.
Notes and Tips
  • Good quality dry fruits translates into a good Fruit Cake
  • You can substitute Rum with Brandy, Whisky or Cognac
  • Be extremely careful while pouring water into the caramelized sugar.
  • Fruits can be soaked in rum for a few weeks, preferably a couple of months ahead of baking the cake
  • There is a delicate balance when incorporating the egg whites. When folded in correctly, they should still be clearly visible as small streaks or pea-sized clumps in the batter. If the batter is completely homogeneous, it has been mixed too much and will not rise as well as it might have. On the other hand, too large an area of unmixed egg white will be visible after baking as a white spot in the cake. 
  • Orange Zest is prepared by scraping or cutting from the outer, colorful skin of orange. You can use a grater to get the zest.If grater is not available, use a peeler or paring knife and chop the peel finely
Here is a conversion chart for U.S. CUPS TO GRAMS

All-Purpose Flour and Confectioners' Sugar
1/8 cup = 15 grams
1/4 cup = 30 grams
1/3 cup = 40 grams
3/8 cup = 45 grams
1/2 cup = 60 grams
5/8 cup = 70 grams
2/3 cup = 75 grams
3/4 cup = 85 grams
7/8 cup = 100 grams
1 cup = 110 grams

Butter 
1/8 cup = 30 grams
1/4 cup = 55 grams
1/3 cup = 75 grams
3/8 cup = 85 grams
1/2 cup = 115 grams
5/8 cup = 140 grams
2/3 cup = 150 grams
3/4 cup = 170 grams
7/8 cup = 200 grams
1 cup = 225 grams

Granulated Sugar
1/8 cup = 30 grams
1/4 cup = 55 grams
1/3 cup = 75 grams
3/8 cup = 85 grams
1/2 cup = 115 grams
5/8 cup = 140 grams
2/3 cup = 150 grams
3/4 cup = 170 grams
7/8 cup = 200 grams
1 cup = 225 grams






83 comments :

  1. Wow...awesome cake with loads of fruits...I am in love with it and the clicks are very tempting...

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  2. This looks great Shema, I am still searching for tht perfect recipe to make into my family recipe. I'll try out yours this year...just wanted to confirm...we need only 600gms of dry fruits for 2 cakes? That looks a little on the lower side!!

    Thanks
    Anne

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  3. Beautiful cake love it. I need to make one.

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  4. Anne, 600gm dry fruits + 1 Cup chopped nuts was for 310gms of flour. It was pretty rich. You can add more if desired. Thanks for trying out the recipe. Hope you will like it

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  5. yummy looking cake! so soft
    http://great-secret-of-life.blogspot.com

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  6. this is so beautiful Shema :) grandmas are the best... i miss them so much :( cake looks super moist and not too dark like what we get in bakery these days... i am sure gonna try this :) thanks for sharing

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  7. shemaaaa i love the pics and wow the cake does look absolutely yum. i am not a big fan of fruit cakes, but i have somehow begun to fancy christmas puddings a bit..just one slice :)
    This year for the first time i steamed my own pud, but that too cos i went for that event and we all made it together. When i take it out on christmas day, ill know how much of a success it is:)
    Again...absolutely love the pics :)

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  8. Shema,

    The snaps are awesome!!! I also planned for a bundt style Plum cake this year, but need to wait few more weeks before I can bake it. Your cake looks moist and the color is perfect!!!

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  9. Beautiful pics shema.....I'm going to try making my first Christmas cake this year....thanks a lot for posting one so early. N thanks a lot for the conversion chart...I may borrow it for posting on my blog too...will mention u for sure :)

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  10. I am planning to make plum cake too sometime.. You have explained it clearly here..Very useful for people like me..

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  11. This is such a beautiful fruit cake! i love love love it....its so rich and perfec with some eggnog :)

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  12. This is an amazing Bundt, packed with lovely ingredients... A beautiful, inviting presentation, I will have to try this recipe very, very soon!!:)

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  13. Lovely post,awesome photos Shema :), I am planning to make a plum cake for my kids before Christmas, I will try this recipe!

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  14. Absolutely gorgeous and the last photo is stunning! I am sure it taste absolutely delicious.

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  15. What an amazing cake! Filled with so much goodness. Irresistible.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  16. I love fruit cake and yours look stunning!! I need to buy a bundt mold so I can make this cake. Shema, your Christmas styling is beautiful!

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  17. That's what I call "REAL" Christmas cake. So fruity and sweet. Beautiful presentation!

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  18. Christmas period is amazing for me and your pictures made me think of it. Simply beautiful.

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  19. Oh I love that this is your families special recipe! I honestly did not know the history behind the Christmas cake, thank you for sharing! Your recipe really does sound wonderful, and I want a slice! Hugs, Terra

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  20. What an awesome Christmas cake and love those old family traditional recipes! I just wish I had one.. ;) Gorgeous and it makes me feel like Christmas immediately!

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  21. I am soo gonna make it! Will let you know the raves :)

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  22. Tried it Shema .. Great recipe ! I cut down the sugar a bit ..but thats me. Thanks :)
    Deepa

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  24. Q: What temp should this be cooked? And for how long?

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  25. I made this cake for church on New Year. Everybody liked it. Thanks Shema...

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  26. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  27. I know its not Christmas right now, but i still think i want to attempt to make a good fruit cake with rum for a family gathering i have next month. Do you all think that's weird haha? Thanks for all the ideas, love your blog!

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  28. Nice clicks Shema! This recipe is perfect. I will hopefully give it a go. Thanks

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  29. Would be great to know how much ml is 1/2 cup rum?

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  30. This looks yummy - will try making it this year! Could we make it non alcoholic as well - for the kids and the non drinkers? If so what should we substitute the rum with? And I'm assuming the soaking of the fruits will not be necessary. Also how should we keep the cake moist? Thanks in advance.

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    Replies
    1. I have always made this cake with alcohol. I am not sure about the substitution. I googled and saw that these links were useful - Hope these help
      http://www.realbakingwithrose.com/index_ee.php/forums/viewthread/1617/
      http://cooking.livejournal.com/9114292.html

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  31. sooper yummy cake...luv this recipe...will surely try this year for my husband....thanks a bunch for sharing....:)

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  32. Hey. Is it too late now to try this cake for this year's christmas. I mean I have not soaked the dry fruits yet. Very nice post. :)

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  33. Hi, I am planning to bake this cake. I wanted to know if you used powdered sugar (the one we use for icing) or regular granulated sugar which we get in US. Thank you.

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  34. Neha- While soaking the fruits I used regular granulated sugar and for the rest of the steps I used powdered sugar/ icing sugar
    Good luck baking !!!

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  35. Hi, I am planning to bake this cake for this X'mas. Would like to know if can we soak the dry fruits in wine or orange juice?
    Also if there any method to prevent the dry fruits from sinking to the bottom of the cake while baking? Any other substitute for Orange marmalade?
    How many cakes did you made with the above measurement?
    Thanks. Jincy

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    Replies
    1. Jincy - Yes, you can soak the fruits in orange juice. The fruits wont sinks to the bottom, just make sure don't have huge chunky pieces. You can use candied orange peel in place of orange marmalade. This recipe yields two 9 inch round cakes

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  37. My husband (Philip),your batch mate, introduced me to your blog. The photography is amazing! The pictures are making us drool over all the food! You write so well. Looking forward to following your blog! Cheers!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your kind words Rose :)

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  38. I've been looking for a good X'mas cake recipe and ur pictures stopped me in my tracks! Great job!

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  39. i made this yesterday..thanks..had been on the lookout for a new fruit cake recipe....it was nice..very soft from the egg whites

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  40. Great recipe. I made it twice in this week and everyone liked it. Thankyou for sharing the recipe and also liked the style of presenting the details of the recipe. Great work and hope to check out your other recipes also.

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  41. Very inspiring. I really like this.You tried something new.it is fantastic to see a useful blog.

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  42. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  43. Hi ,

    Would you suggest a brand for Rum or alcohol you have used ??? Looks gorgeous and I am going to try for this christmas. TIA

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    Replies
    1. You can check this site for good brands of rum
      http://www.top5ofanything.com/index.php?h=a515a8c9

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  44. Hi...lovely blog you have here!...would love to try your cake this Christmas. I am also planning to make it in a bundt pan...did you make the whole recipe in one bundt pan?...and how long would you say was the baking time in the bundt pan?...thanks a lot.

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    Replies
    1. Yes - I did bake the whole batter in one big bundt pan. If I remember correctly it took almost 60 minutes. It all depends on the oven and the the pan you are using. So keep an eye on the cake while baking!

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  45. Hi shema..nice recipe n lovely pictures..im about to start with this soon..cud u tell me if i need to soak the fruits in an airtight jar or a regular glass jar with a lid wud do?

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    Replies
    1. Air tight glass jar would be the best! All the best :) Happy Baking

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  46. Hi shema..nice recipe n amazing pictures..im bout to start with this..cud u tell me if i need to soak the fruits in an airtight jar or a regular glass jar with lid wud do?

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  47. Ohffff such a sinfully rich cake.U have given me lot of ideas Shema marmalade ,apricot... that mountain on the plate is calling my name.

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  48. So no granulated sugar, only powdered sugar? Won't it be too sweet?

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  49. Do we need to soak the chopped nuts too? Or is it just the dry fruits? Can i use prunes alomg with dates , raisins and sultanas?
    I plan to make just one inch cake... can i just use half of all the ingredients?

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    Replies
    1. No - You should only soak the dry fruits. Nuts can be added at the time of making the cake batter. Yes, you can add dry fruits of your choice

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  50. Shema, you had mentioned about drizzling the cake with brandy/rum to moisten it. How many days do you do that? Also how often? I have been searching for a fruit cake recipe and yours look perfect and so tempting!

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    Replies
    1. You can apply rum on the cooled cake and store it as mentioned in the recipe. You just have to do it once. Good luck with the cake!

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  51. Thanks Shema for the quick response.
    if I want to make just one 9 inch cake.. instead of 2.. should i just halve all the ingeedients?

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  52. Sooo tempting....great bake!
    Why did you choose bundt cake pan to make the fruit cake?Will it sink in the middle if we use a round cake tin?pls advise

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    Replies
    1. I used bundt pan just to make the pictures look more attractive. You can bake it in any shape of your choice

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    2. Thank you....I will bake and get back to you.

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  53. Hi Shema,
    Came across your page while browsing for a Christmas cake recipe. To be honest, I have always been squeamish about trying my hand at fruit cakes due to all the effort that goes into it. Your pics and detailed description was so tempting that I finally gave in to my self doubt and went ahead with baking this beauty. All thanks to you - the results were terrific! This is the most moist and rich plum cake I have ever had, and easily one which earned me some pats on the back :) Thanks again!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for such a lovely feedback Pam. Glad you all enjoyed the Cake. Merry X'mas to you and your family !

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  54. Lovely recipe ! My fruits are soaking away and I can't wait to bake the cake ! Can you tell me how many days in advance should I bake ? Does the cake needs maturing ?
    Thanks
    Swathi

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    Replies
    1. If you are planning to use the cake for X'mas I think you should bake it now. Actually, Fruitcakes are just like wine- They taste better as they age. This process is called "ripening."
      Good luck with your cake!

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    2. Thank you so much for answering my query ! It's for Sunday ! So let me hurry up and bake it rite away ! Wish me luck !

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    3. The cake came out very well ! I can't thank you enough for the recipe !

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  55. Hi Shema,

    I think I soaked my dry fruits with little too much rum. Is there a way to get rid of the rum from the soaked fruits

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  56. Hi Shema,

    I think I soaked my fruits with little too much rum. Is there a way to get rid of the extra rum?

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    Replies
    1. I dont know of a way in which you can extract the rum :(
      You can try to dab off extra alcohol with a paper towel or a kitchen towel. Alcohol has a tendency to evaporate and fade away with time so lets hope that does the trick. Sorry - I know that answer would not have helped you much!

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  57. Hi Shema,

    By any chance, can I soak the fruits in champagne? I don't have rum/ brandy. Please let me know.
    As always, your recipes, pics and posts are brilliant and an inspiration.:)

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  58. I have seen recipe where they soak dried fruits in Wine and Champagne. So there is no harm in trying it out. I have not tried it out yet. Do share your results with us if you try it. Good Luck !

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  59. Hi Shema,

    I loved the recipe and the process you followed to bake this fruit cake! I went through so many of them but I felt this is the right one for me :)

    My fruits have been soaking for just over three weeks now and plan on baking the cakes today, hoping my work doesn't get in the way. I plan to halve your recipe as I use a MW with conv setting to do all baking hence plan on doing one at a time. Do you think a 9*5 loaf tin is enough for one cake? :)

    Cheers
    Manisha

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  60. Hello Shema,

    First time baking a plum cake .After reading many recipes finally decide to go with this recipe.
    soaking the fruits - slight variation I have done here, 2/3cup sugar + 1cup water (boiling water)added , then the fruits followed by Rum.

    Here, after the fruit added there was no water to boil ,and then I take it off from the heat and add ½ Cup Brandy, then also it looks dry, so added ½ Cup wine to avoid more rum flavor. Is that okay.

    Cheers
    Mishal

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  61. This is my go to recipe for a cake every Christmas! Thanks a lot for providing us with this wonderful recipe :)

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  62. We made this cake last Christmas, it came out beautifully. Absolutely yummy, it was demolished in no time. Us and our friends doing seconds and third helpings!! Thanks for the recipe!!

    This Christmas wanted to make it again, a bit too late to soak the fruits now i guess.

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First of all thanks a lot for stopping by my space. I would be very happy to hear from you and would love to see your comments and feedback :)
Thanks a bunch,
Shema

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