Plum Cake in India, and especially in Kerala, is an old fashioned spiced cakes filled with dried fruit and nuts. These are packed with flavor and a popular tea time snack.
Here is an individual serving version of the plum cake. There are a lot of raisins and nuts held together by the soft cake. Savor it with a cup of coffee or tea for an utterly satisfying snack experience.
What is a plum cake?
Plum cakes in India especially Kerala do not have anything to do with plums. It is a spiced dark brown cake studded with dried fruits, mainly raisins. The only similarity that I can think of is the dark plum skin and the color of the black raisins. I suspect the name stayed because of the dark raisins and the overall spicy dark flavors of the cake.
Christmas Fruit Cakes
During Christmas time these take on a richer version, and become the Christmas fruit cake. Every year we make this traditional cake, and sometimes we run out of ingredients or time and make this easy version. I never feel that it is quite the same in terms of richness but the taste is very similar.
Why is plum cake so popular?
The traditional Plum cake recipes were created ages ago and handed down from generation to generation. It made use of the best available local ingredients. Everyone loves it as it is a fairly shelf-stable cake for tropical climates. The flavors are perfectly suited to a palate that is used to spices.
During Christmas, bakers make a richer version of this cake. Often this involved weeks and sometimes months of perpetrations. Things have changed quite a bit, and thankfully, we can make a very good cake with much less time and effort. But can it replace the original one? Definitely not, so if you have the time, I urge you to give the traditional Kerala Christmas Plum Cake a try.
Individual Plum Cakes
I loved the single-serving version of Kerala plum cakes as a child. So I make these when nostalgia hits. Slice a sheet cake into small rectangles to make the individual versions. Wrap each rectangle in a piece of wax paper like toffee. These individually wrapped versions are a big hit in the lunch box as well.
Another fun thing is that just a couple of substitutions is all it takes to make this into an energy bar. Find the substitutions to make energy bar at the end of the post.
A look at the Ingredient list
Looking at the fruit cake recipe and these are the ingredients you will notice
- Dried fruits
Yes, it is a party in there!
When I adapted this recipe for my one bowl, rather one mixing bowl, fruit cake, I wanted all the original flavors. In other words, this is a quick recipe, but not an egg free, alcohol free, or any free recipe. Some of the ‘free’ versions are really nice. I just don’t think it is a right to call them Traditional Christmas cake or Kerala Plum Cake.
Prepping the Fruit
Soak the dry fruits a to plump them up a little. Chop them small think 1/2 centimeter. Do not use a food processor, we do not want fruit paste. Big chunks of fruits tend to sink to the bottom, hence the chopping. Add a little warm orange juice to the fruit mix and give it a good stir. Set aside for 10 minutes. If you have fresh squeezed orange juice all the better!
If you have fresh oranges grate the zest and squeeze the fresh juice over the fruits. Packaged orange juice or apple juice will work as well, but won’t be as flavorful.
Making the Cake
As long as you start with room temperature ingredients the mixing will be easy. I use only one bowl for mixing the batter. Cream the butter and sugar until well mixed and pale. To this add eggs one by one and beat well. Keep beating until the egg mix increases in volume.
To this mix add the sifted dry ingredients. The trick is to beat the egg butter mix well until it is fluffy and mix the other ingredients with the minimum of mixing. The idea is to help the egg batter retain as much of the trapped air as possible. This will ensure that the cake will hold its volume well and with uniform distribution of fruits .
A Few Tips
- Start with room temperature ingredients
- Chop the fruits and nuts small – about 1/2 cm length
- Give the fruits a quick soak
- Dust the drained fruit and nuts with flour
- Beat the eggs until it is increases in volume
Easy Plum Cake
- 2 C AP Flour 220 g, unbleached
- 1 C Butter 220 g
- 3/4 C Brown Sugar 150 g
- 4 Eggs
- 3 C Dry Fruits 300 g ( See Notes)
- 1/2 C Chopped Nuts
- 1 C Orange Juice
- 1 Tbsp Orange/lemon Zest
- 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
- 2 Tsp Baking Powder
- 2 Tsp Powdered Spices Notes
- 1/2 Tsp Fine Sea Salt
- 1 Tsp Caraway Seeds Crushed
- 3/4 C Milk
For Rum Syrup (Optional)
- 1/2 C Water
- 4 Tbsp Sugar
- 2 Tbsp Rum
- Warm the 1 C orange juice and pour over the chopped fruits. Stir well and set aside for 10 minutes.
- Sift the dry ingredients – flour, salt,baking soda and spice powders – well. Add the caraway seeds (if using) and mix well. Take 1 tbsp of the flour mix and add to the chopped nuts. Stir to coat.
- Butter and flour the cake pan or line with parchment paper and set aside. Place the oven rack in the center and pre-heat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Drain the fruits and discard the remaining juice. Add 2 tbsp of the flour mix to the drained fruits and toss to coat. Set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar really well. Add the eggs one by one beating until it is mixed well into the mixture. Keep mixing for a couple more minutes until fluffy and increased in volume.
- Fold the flour mix in 3 equal batches adding 1/2 the milk between each addition . Start and end with the flour. Fold in the nuts and fruits and immediately pour into the prepared pan. Level the top and transfer to the oven. Reduce the heat to 350°F (175°C) and bake for 40 minutes or until the tops are brown and a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- For 13 X 9 ” pan this batter will take about 40 minutes to bake. Adjust the baking times for the pans used.
- Remove from the oven and cool in pan for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack.
- Mix 1/2 C Water and 4 Tbsp Sugar in a small pan. Heat over medium, till it comes to a boil. Boil for a minute and add the rum . Mix well and boil for another minute Turn off the heat.
- With a pastry brush brush the syrup over the warm cake. Set aside to cool.
- Cool completely before slicing.
- Chop the dry fruits and nuts small.
- My spice mix usually includes – 1Tsp of Cinnamon, 1/2 Tsp Powdered Ginger, 1/4 Tsp Nutmeg and 1/2 Tsp Cloves. Cardamom, and all spice are other favorite aromatic spices.
Important: Values are only estimates. Actuals vary depending on ingredients and serving size.
To Make Plum Cake Energy Bar
- Use Whole Wheat Flour
- Increase Milk by 2 Tbsp
- Replace half or all of the sugar with honey