Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Fruit Cake /Kerala Plum Cake
The fruit cake recipe is an age old one and used by most Christian families in Kerala. However, like most things, we don't make a distinction of religions and unanimously celebrate each others festival. A common scene on our streets during the season are cakes lined behind the glass show cases in bakeries. You will find them in small rounds and squares wrapped in transparent plastic. Some come with sugar icing and others fresh cream they all sell like ‘hot cakes.’ No prizes for guessing, you will also see hordes of them in our homes as well. Everyone gifts everyone else these cakes for Christmas. I can say without a doubt that we all do an excess of buying, baking and eating these delectable cakes.
Getting down to the business of baking, the fruits for this cake are marinated and kept for over a year. They are soaked in rum and caramel. Being away from my home, and a queen of procrastination I did a last minute hotchpotch and did not marinate the fruits this time. Nonetheless, having tasted both the marinated and non marinated I recommend the later. The longer you marinate the fruits the better the cake.
The recipe below is given in grams. As long as you measure out the exact quantity of the ingredients in weight the cake will do well. There are quite a few suggestions for conversion to cups on google search. Namitha has given her version with cups and also the number of eggs she has used, and by the look of the cake you will agree with her judgement.
Let me give you an example to confirm rules are to be broken. My mothers, biological and in-law, follow different measurements for the eggs and fruits and yet both their cakes turn out tasty. The former uses a one:one:one ratio of all the ingredients while the later doubles the quantity for fruits and eggs. Both are good but my mom in laws is a tad better overall.
My mother in law participates in the Christmas baking in our church. She and her friends will scour the local markets and ‘hand pick’ candied fruits from the best vendors for Christmas baking. This is very important because, at the expense of sounding repetitive, the best ingredients make the best cake. I remember joining her in this hunt the first year of my marriage. We used the same fruit marinated in caramel and rum for the next two years for our baking. Now you know how long one can preserve these fruits even in humid weather conditions like in India. Neither of them, my mom nor in-law add the regular cinnamon or cloves in their recipes. All we do is add some vanilla essence and it has been unanimously accepted as best. However, you may add cinnamon and cloves in yours if you choose.
Cake Flour - 250 gms(1 1/4 cups)
Butter - 250 gms (1 1/4cups)
Sugar - 250 gms (1 1/4cups) (powder sugar after you have measured it out)
Dry fruits and nuts together -1-2 1/2 cups (soaked for a months or couple of days as time permits in rum or brandy)
Vanilla Essence - 1 tspn
Baking Powder - 1 tspn
Granulated sugar for caramelizing - 1/2 cup
Egg yolks - 4
Egg whites - 4 (make sure there is no tinge of egg yolk)
Beating Egg White:
1. It may be a good practise to beat the egg white stiff before you start on the main cake batter. Please make sure you use a dry bowl and a dry blade when you beat the egg white. Any trace of water, grease or egg yolk in the white will not give the desired fluffy frothy egg white. Beating the egg white stiff is very important to give a light and fluffy texture to the cake. Make sure all the egg white has been beaten stiff before you clean the blade and wipe it dry before you start mixing the batter.
Mixing the Batter:
1. Sift the flour and baking powder twice and keep aside (sifting allows the baking powder to be mixed well with the flour)
2. Beat the butter well first before adding the sugar. Gradually add the sugar beating well after each addition. Remember also to gradually increase the speed of your blender from low to medium after all the sugar has been blended in. Taking time and beating the butter and sugar goes a long way to aerate the butter and to give a moist, fluffy texture to your cake
3. Add in the egg yolk and beat well
4. Add the vanilla essence beat well
5. Follow up with cool caramelized sugar
6. Spoon in the flour a little at a time alternating with the egg white
7. If you find watery egg white which did not froth do not use it or only use after beating it fluffy
5. Pour the batter in a 9 inch pan and bake in a preheated oven at 350 D F for 45 minutes
6. When a toothpick pricked comes out clear the cake is done
1. Add a tablespoon of water to the 1/2 cup sugar till you make it moist and lumpy
2. Heat this sugar in a pan until brown this takes about 10 minutes. Do not stir using a spoon, you may swirl the pan around
3. The purpose is to brown it well so wait till the sugar takes on a black coffee color. You will see it smoking and the distinct smell of burnt sugar reduce the flame and pour in 1/2 cup of boiling water (Be very careful doing this because the mixture tends to splash and it is extremely hot and caramelized sugar can leave serious burns)
4. Stir the mixture and turn off the heat
5. Set it aside to cool
1. To ensure the cake keeps long without spoiling use dry vessels and spoons when mixing the batter
2. Use ingredients at room temperate by preparing ahead and making sure the butter and eggs are left outside the refrigerator long enough
3. Use of eggs for this cake is quite interesting because I have had cakes which tastes good both with same amount a little less and also double the quantity so once you get the standard 1:1 ratio of all ingredients the next time you can try variations
4. Grind some of the fruits in a mixer before marinating, it adds to the taste of the cake
5. You can also add one egg at time as beating well after each addition if you are using less number of eggs or else continue seperating the yolk and white.
Contributors: Namitha and Sunitha