Ever since I started writing this blog, I have visions of creating fabulous posts for Christmas. Each year I plan to make wonderfully festive stuff and post here. Some years I manage, like the year I made and posted these beautiful Date and Fig Ravioli that still count as the best Christmas cookies I have ever baked. Some years I just summarise what I have made in a post that marks Christmas atleast 6 weeks late.
Traditionally in my family, rich fruit plum cake is baked. The dried fruit is bought and soaked in rum by september and the baking and preparation for the festival began atleast a week in advance. The first thing to get done would be the cake, followed by murukku, rose cookies and sometimes kalkals. This is in my mother’s house. Each year, depending on my mood and fancy, things change in the escapades household. Now more than ever, I miss having a large family gathering. For the last few years, Christmas day has been spent with K’s family joining us for lunch, and our friends come home in the evening for drinks and dinner. A couple of years, I had largish parties. This year I am doing almost nothing. I still have no concrete plans.
I spent today baking my version of the fruit cake. It has never disappointed me and each year I feel somehow that this only gets better. I would have ideally liked to bake this cake atleast a week ago and have enough time to feed it with rum / brandy, but if you know anything about me, you will already know that I am not a planner.
So this morning I woke up feeling like a grouch and decided I’d had enough of this non festivity. Proceeded post breakfast to make some cake. I have made three kinds of cake this year. Boozey Christmas Fruit Cake which I am sharing in this post. Another version of this cake that I teach in my classes and a quick Caramel dried fruit eggless cake which I will share in another post. Hopefully I will post all of them before this evening, but there is no telling!
This is a long list of ingredients and has atleast 3 steps. the soaking of the fruit and making of the caramel can be done much ahead of time.
So here is the recipe for my Boozey Christmas Fruit Cake (Makes two 9X9 inch cakes or 10 3X4 loaves which can be baked in aluminium tins used to pack takeaway)
I made the batter in the food processor with the plastic blades used to make batter. Feel free to make this by hand, or use a hand mixer.
PS: Ensure all ingredients are at room temperature
1 Cup Unsalted Butter
1 Cup Brown Sugar (powdered to ensure quicker mixing)
3 Cups Maida, sifted and then measured
3 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Cinnamon Powder
2 teaspoons Ground dried ginger
2 teaspoons dried or fresh orange peel
1/2 teaspoon Allspice powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder
3 teaspoons Vanilla Essence / extract
3 large Eggs
1/2 Cup Applesauce
1 teaspoon Instant Coffee Powder
3/4 cup Caramel Syrup
3 Cups dried fruit soaked in rum
To soak the fruit
Equal parts of Golden raisins, black raisins, apricots, dates, figs, tutti fruiti and a small sprinkling of cranberries (optional) are soaked in Dark rum for atleast 1 day or upto 1 year in advance. Chop the large fruit such as dates and apricots into small pieces before soaking.
To make the caramel syrup
In a heavy bottomed pan, heat 1/2 cup of white sugar on medium high heat without stirring till it begins to caramelise. Heat 1/2 cup of water side by side. When the sugar becomes uniformly golden, stir with a wooden spoon and begin to add the water a little at a time, stirring to ensure there are no lumps. heat through till the water is all mixed with the burnt sugar. If the caramel becomes lumpy, reduce the heat and continue to stir and cook till the sugar lumps melt. Cool completely before using. Caramel can be made ahead and kept in the fridge for a few weeks.
To make the Apple sauce (Makes 1/2 cup)
Skin and core 1 medium sized red apple, chop into pieces and pressure cook with 2 tablespoons water and 1 teaspoon sugar (if the apples are not sweet). Once cool, blend to a smooth puree and use as needed.
For the Cake
Preheat the oven to 170 C. Butter and line 2 9X9 square metal cake pans or smaller aluminium takeaway tins.
Sift the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, salt, instant coffee, ground spice powders. Set aside.
Beat the butter till fluffy. Add the sugar and beat till the granules disappear and the mixture has become fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well after each addition. Add a teaspoon of vanilla after the addition of each egg and beat.
Mix the cooled caramel syrup with the apple sauce and stir well. In 3-4 parts, add the sifted flour alternating with the caramel-apple sauce mixture and mix gently into the butter-sugar-eggs mix. Do this till all the flour and caramel apple sauce has been used. With a spatula, mix in the soaked dried fruit.
Divide this mixture between pans. If using the 9X9 inch pan, bake for 45-55 minutes, checking for done-ness with a toothpick.
If baking in smaller pans, bake 3 tins together for about 25-35 minutes, checking with a toothpick at 23 minutes and adjusting baking time.
Once done, remove onto a wire rack and cool completely in the pan before slicing.
This cake can be made more boozey by poking holes on the top once cooled and sprinkling 1-2 teaspoons of rum / brandy every day for upto 10 days. Make sure to wrap tightly in clingfilm or foil before storing.