December 21, 2010

Kerala Christmas Cake (Fruit Cake)

Since my childhood, cake making has been a ritual that me and my sister have looked forward to, with much gusto during Christmas time. Amma would be dusting the soaked fruits with flour or making caramel, Dad would be creaming the butter and sugar together. We, kids, would hang around the kitchen to get turns at cracking the eggs or lick the batter off the spoon. Fast forward to the present time - my husband and daughters are hanging around my kitchen taking in the sights and the smells, waiting for the first cake to come out of the oven.  Here is our recipe - from my family's cook book to yours - Merry Christmas!!

Dry Fruits: total 5 cups
3 cups raisins, dates, candied cherries, candied pineapple, etc
1 cup candied orange/lemon peels/candied ginger
1 cup cashew nuts
1 cup Dark Rum

Chop finely all the dried fruits. Keeping the nuts aside, soak the rest in rum in an air-tight container for about 2-4 weeks. Keep stirring the contents of the container every week, so that the rum is coated evenly. On the day of baking, add the nuts and about 4-5 tsp of flour. Stir together to remove any lumping of fruits.

TIP: If soaking the fruits for less than 1 week, warm the fruits along with rum for five minutes (power low) in the microwave. Once it cools, store in air tight container till the day of baking.

For Caramel:
250 gm sugar
1 cup water

Take a thick bottomed pan, brush some butter on the bottom and the sides so that the sugar does not stick. Add the sugar and about 2 tbsp of water. Heat on medium to high flame and let it boil. Don't stir the contents. As the sugar caramelizes, swirl the pan once or twice. When all sugar has melted and the color is dark brown (almost black), remove the pan from the stove and very carefully, add very slowly the water to the caramel. Stir the contents well to dissolve the caramel. It will form a thick syrup. Keep this aside.

For Cake Batter:
500 gm all purpose flour
5 level tsp baking powder
1 heaped tbsp spice powder (cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg in equal quantity)
500 gm sugar
500 gm butter, at room temperature
500 gm eggs (10-12 nos, depending on weight), at room temperature
4 tsp vanilla essence

Sift the flour, baking powder and spice powder together, at least twice and keep aside covered. Preheat oven at 350 deg F. Line baking pans with parchment paper and keep ready. Beat butter and sugar in a large vessel till smooth and creamy. Add eggs one by one and keep beating the mixture every time to incorporate the egg. Add vanilla essence and the caramel and mix the batter well.

Add the flour mixture and the fruit mixture alternatively in small quantities. Fold them into the batter with a spatula. Once all ingredients are well folded in, spoon the batter into the baking pans.

Bake each cake in the middle rack at 350 F for about an hour. Check for doneness by inserting a knife or toothpick, into the center of the cake. If the knife come out clean, the cake is done. Remove cake and let it cool. Brush the top with some rum. Cover with wax paper/aluminium foil for longer shelf life.

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