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Kerala Plum Cake – Simple Version

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Plum cakes –  the spiced dark brown cakes  studded  with  dried  fruits (mainly raisins)  – are  popular in Kerala  all   year  around.  Don’t  be  fooled  by the  name,  there is  rarely any plum in there.  I suspect  the  name  stayed  because of  the  dark  raisins   and the  overall spicy dark  flavors of  the  cake.  During  Christmas   time  these   takes on a  richer  version ,  and  becomes   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  texture wise  but  in terms  of  taste    there is  very little  difference.

Easy Christmas Fruit Cake - Kerala plum cake

The  traditional recipe was  created ages  ago   and  handed  down  from   generation to generation  to make  use of  the  best available  ingredients.  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 one  with rich story and  history  behind  it?  Definitely not , so if  you have the  time ,I urge  you to give  the  original version a  try.

Often times I make  these as  a sheet  cake  and  slice  into  small  rectangles  and  wrap like  toffee.  These  kind  of  single  serving  version were  very popular  bakery  item   throughout  my childhood.  Another  fun  thing  about  this  is  that   since it  is  so loaded  with  fruits  and  nuts  just a  couple  of  substitutions  is all it  takes  to make  this  into an  energy bar. Substitution for  the  energy bar is  given at  the  end of  the post.   These  individually wrapped  versions  are a big  hit  in the lunch box 🙂 as well.

Easy Plum Cake


Looking at the  fruit cake  recipe  and   here is    what you see

  • Dried fruits
  • Nuts
  • Citrus
  • Spices
  • Eggs
  • Alcohol

Yes it is a party in there 😉 ,  and  yes it takes a lot of  hard work !

When I adapted  this  recipe   for my  my one  bowl, rather one  mixing  bowl,  fruit  cake, these  were  the  flavors  I wanted  in there.  In other words   this  is  a  quick recipe , but  not an egg free, alcohol free,  or  any  free  recipe.  Not that  I am opposed  to any of  these  versions –  I just  refuse  to classify them under Christmas cake or  Kerala Plum Cake.

The   dry fruits  need  to be  soaked  for a  little  while.  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  keep the small.   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 and  do not  discard  the  rind . With  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.

Easy Plum Cake Steps

Both the  dry and  the  wet  ingredients  get   mixed  in the same  bowl. The  trick to this  cake  is  beating  the  eggs  well.  as  well as  sifting  the  dry ingredients.  When  the  butter  egg  mixture is  beaten well   and  the the dry ingredients   are  incorporated  with the  minimum  of  mixing  the  cake  will  hold  its  volume  well   and  with  uniform   distribution of  fruits .  As long  as  you start  with room temperature  ingredients    the  mixing  will be  easy.

Easy Christmas Fruit Cake

Easy Plum Cake

By Syama
Dark brown spicy and fruit filled cake from Kerala.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine Indian
Servings 8


  • 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.
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  • All ingredients  for the batter should  be  at room temperature
  • Mix the wet  ingredients  well until pale  and  fluffy
  • Sift  the dry ingredients  and  mix  well .
  • Fold  in the  dry ingredients  with  the  minimum of   stirring.
  • Fold  in the  fruits  last   by hand.

To Make Plum Cake  Energy Bar

  • Use  Whole  Wheat  Flour
  • Increase  Milk by 2 Tbsp
  • Replace half or  all of  the  sugar  with honey



Easy Plum Cake

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