Kerala Plum Cake or Christmas Fruit Cake Recipe – a delicious and easy step by step recipe for fruit cake or Kerala plum cake, that’s perfect for Christmas or really, all year round.
Christmas in Kerala is what memories are made of. I haven’t come back in 6 years so this year is extra special. Except for once or twice when I was a kid, Amma hasn’t made fruit cake at home from scratch because every year we are inundated with fruit cakes from friends celebrating Christmas.
This year’s first cake is this Kerala plum cake from Omana Paul, a popular caterer and good friend of ours. Their plum cake is very popular and they make thousands at this time of the year. Amma had the recipe so I wanted to share it in time for Christmas. I have also shared an eggless fruit cake recipe if that’s what you are after. This tutti frutti cake is perfect for those who don’t really like plum cakes or raisins. I have a few of those in my family too but tutti frutti, they love!
Also check out a list of easy Christmas cakes and cookies.
This fruit cake recipe doesn’t need you to soak the dry fruits in advance and it’s alcohol-free so you can make the cake instantly just before you need it.
Kerala Plum Cake, Christmas Fruit Cake Recipe
- 1 cup plain flour maida or all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cashew nuts raw, unsalted, chopped
- 1/4 cup black raisins
- 1/2 cup mixed dried fruits dates, cherries, orange peels, etc
- 1/2 cup white sugar for sugar syrup
- 3/4 cup white sugar for cake batter
- 2/3 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 1/4 teaspoon clove powder see notes
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- In a pan on medium heat, melt 1/2 cup sugar slowly.
- It will first melt and then turn into a dark brown goop. Keep stirring and let it turn a deep dark caramel colour. Don't let it burn.
- Turn off heat and add about 1/4 cup water. The sugar will harden.
- Turn the heat back on and slowly heat the mixture until the sugar crystals dissolve.
- This will take around 10 mins.
- Once done, let it cool and set aside.
- Pre-heat oven to 350F / 180C.
- Add 3 tablespoon flour to the dry fruits and nuts and dredge completely to coat it. This is so that they don't sink to the bottom of the batter while baking. Set aside.
- Mix the remaining flour and baking powder, spices, and salt until well combined.
- Beat the butter and 3/4 cup sugar until fluffy – about 10 mins by hand, 3-4 mins with an electric beater.
- Add vanilla and mix until combined. Next, add 1 egg and beat. Then add a bit of the flour mixture and fold. Likewise, alternate between the eggs and flour mixture until they are both used up.
- Add the cooled caramel and dredged fruits and gently fold in.
- Pour batter into a greased cake pan and smooth the top.
- Bake for 50-55 mins until the top turns a dark brown and when a skewer inserted into the cake comes out with moist crumbs.
- Start checking from 45 mins to see if the cake is done.
- The top will look like it's overdone but don't worry, make sure the inside is also completely cooked.
- Dust with icing sugar when the cake is completely cooled and serve
- Kerala plum cake can be stored at room temperature for 3 days and refrigerated for up to two weeks
- The amount of fruits and what type you want to use is entirely up to you. I’d recommend to use orange peels if you can because it enhances the flavour a lot. I have also made this cake just with cashew nuts and dates with some raisins and that’s worked really well too
- If you plan to ice the cake, reduce sugar by 1/3 cup. This cake is sweet enough on its own.
- I have updated the recipe with cinnamon powder and clove powder I bought readymade but you can also powder together 1 clove + 1 cardamom pod + small piece of cinnamon + a pinch nutmeg to add to the cake if you have the whole spices handy
- I adjusted the amount of sugar from my original recipe since I found the cake too sweet but if you tried my original recipe and liked it in the past, the measurement for sugar used was 1/2 cup sugar for the syrup and 1 cup in the batter. I have now adjusted it to 3/4 cup for the batter.
- What is Kerala plum cake? I get this question a lot especially why this cake is called “plum cake” if there are no plums in the cake. Well, I am not entirely sure either but fruit cake is called plum cake in Kerala and maybe traditionally it always involved plums and the recipe has evolved.
- If you don’t want to make the sugar syrup for Christmas cake from scratch, you can buy treacle from stores. It’s a thick sugar syrup that may also include molasses. Use 1/4 cup in place of the sugar syrup in this recipe.
- You can replace the cashew nuts with almonds or walnuts too but personally I love cashew nuts in fruit cake.
- The cake will be a bit tough to un-mould if you don’t grease the cake pan generously
Step by Step Kerala Plum Cake / Christmas Fruit Cake Recipe
This Kerala plum cake recipe requires you to caramelise sugar into a thick sugar syrup. Don’t be like me and worry about it, it’s really not that hard, you just need to be careful while doing it.
In a pan on medium heat, melt 1/2 cup sugar slowly. Do not add any water, just the sugar in a pan
Keep stirring and let it turn a deep dark caramel colour. Don’t let it burn.In the picture below, the sugar is just starting to melt along the sides. Gently stir to get it going.
You should start getting the smell of caramel at this stage.
Stir occasionally and keep heating. When it reaches the stage as shown in the below picture, you are ready to move on to the next step.
Turn off heat and add 1/4 cup water to the sugar syrup.
The syrup will harden a bit and sizzle.
Turn the heat back on and slowly heat the mixture until the sugar crystals dissolve. This will take around 10 mins and the mixture will foam and bubble a bit like below.
Once all the sugar crystals are dissolved and you get a smooth syrup, turn off heat. Set aside and let this mixture cool while you proceed with the preparation of the fruit cake.
Set the oven to pre heat at 350F / 180C.
Add 3 tablespoons flour to the dry fruits and nuts and dredge completely to coat it.
This is so that they don’t sink to the bottom of the batter while baking. Set aside.
Mix the remaining flour with baking powder, spices, and salt until well combined.
Mix till no streaks of spice powder can be seen.
Beat the butter and 3/4 cup sugar until soft – about 5-6 mins by hand, 2 mins with an electric beater.
Add vanilla and mix until combined.
Next, add 1 egg and beat well until incorporated.
Then add 1/3 of the flour mixture and fold gently.
Likewise, alternate between the eggs and flour mixture until they are both used up.
Add the cooled sugar syrup.. (You can see the consistency of the sugar caramel syrup here)
.. and dredged fruits and gently fold everything in together.
The batter is ready!
Grease a 6″ cake pan generously with butter.
Pour batter into the cake pan and smooth the top gently if uneven.
Bake for 50-55 mins until the top turns a dark brown and when a skewer inserted into the cake comes out with moist crumbs.
You can start checking from 45 minutes in case your oven bakes the cake faster. The top may look like it is overdone but don’t worry about that, it’s just the sugar syrup giving the cake crumb a darker colour. Make sure the inside is also completely cooked before you take the cake out of the oven.
Let the fruit cake cool completely before cutting otherwise it will crumble.
Typically, Kerala plum cake or our Christmas fruit cakes are not frosted so just dust the the cake with icing sugar or powdered sugar when the cake is completely cooled and store in airtight containers in room temperature for up to three days, or refrigerate for up to two weeks.