It is Christmas season again, and everyone, no matter their status, will be looking forward to eating a plum or fruitcake at this time. But the more enthusiastic ones end up eating the good old traditional Christmas cake.
During this season, I often find myself transported to my childhood days in Kerala where my aunt used to bake the most delicious Christmas rum cake. I still remember the soothing and calming smell of freshly baked cakes in her kitchen. Baking cakes for Christmas was one of the most awaited events at that time, and she used to begin prepping at least a month or two in advance. She would gather all the dry fruits and soak them in almost half a bottle of rum. The sweet and heady smells wafting from the soaked nuts are something I can never forget.
While rum cake is undoubtedly a popular choice, there is a massive variety of Christmas cakes that you can bake yourself or purchase from bakeries. This Christmas, I decided that instead of going for a store-bought or online Christmas cake, I would bake my aunt’s recipe of rum cake and add a few modifications of my own.
The problem that I face with baking this cake is that I keep losing the book where the recipe is written, and so I called my aunt again last week to get the recipe. Once I had the recipe, I copied it into my daily diary so I would not lose it any time soon. I chose a mix of orange peels, cashew nuts, tutti-frutti, walnuts, raisins, cherries, figs, and dates, all weighing up to about 200-250 gms. After all of them were chopped well, I soaked them in about 200 ml of Old Monk. The soaked mixture was stored away in a glass jar for a fortnight. Every once in a while, I stirred the mixture.
Pro tip: You can always add more rum if you think the fruits look dry.
Without any further delay, here is the recipe for my aunt’s super delicious and relatively simple Christmas rum cake
Baking a Christmas classic: Rum Cake
For the rum-soaked fruits:
- 200 gms: Rum
- 250 gms: Orange peels, walnuts, cashew nuts, tutti-frutti, raisins, cherries, figs, and dates (chopped)
For the rum cake:
- 1 cup: Maida (All-purpose flour)
- 2 nos: Eggs (at room temperature)
- 1/2 cup: Brown sugar
- 1 tbsp: Honey
- 1 tsp: Baking powder
- 1/2 tsp: Salt
- 1/4 cup/6 tbsp: softened unsalted butter or olive oil/ vegetable oil (any flavorless oil)
- 1/2 tsp: Cinnamon powder
- 1/2 tsp: Nutmeg powder
How to soak the fruits:
- Finely chop all the dry nuts and fruits. Transfer them into a clean glass jar. Add in the rum and mix them well.
- Ensure that the dry fruits are well soaked in the rum and leave it to soak for at least 15 days.
- If you think all the rum is absorbed, you can add 2-3 tbsp of rum to the fruit mixture.
- Stir the mix with a clean spoon every 3-4 days to make sure that it gets soaked well.
How to make the rum cake:
- First, add the room temperature butter, brown sugar, and honey in a bowl and beat them well using a whisk or electric beater till smooth
- Then, add the eggs one at a time and beat well. If you notice curdling, don’t worry, it will be rectified once the dry ingredients are mixed in. Keep the mixture aside
- Preheat the oven to 180° C for 10 mins
- Next, sieve the flour, salt, baking powder, nutmeg, and cinnamon
- Add the dry flour mixture into the wet mixture slowly and steadily, a little at a time, to ensure that they are well combined using a spatula. It has to be a thick batter
- Sprinkle a little all-purpose flour over the soaked dry fruits to ensure that the soaked fruits do not settle to the bottom of the cake
- Finally, add the rum-soaked fruits and nuts to the batter and fold it well until the nuts are mixed evenly without over-mixing the batter
- Pour this batter into the greased cake tin lined with butter paper and bake for 30-40 mins at 180°C. You will know that the cake is well cooked if a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean
- Remove the cake out of the oven and let it cool
- Use a fork or toothpick to prick holes on the cake and brush the entire cake with the remaining rum from the soaked mixture.
- Wrap the cake tightly with cling wrap or aluminum foil and keep it at room temperature for at least a day, so the rum is absorbed well into the cake. (If you plan on storing it longer, you can keep feeding, i.e., brushing the cake with little rum every week)
PS: If you want to prevent the cake from burning on the top, you can cover the cake tin with an aluminum foil sheet while baking.
PPS: I love having warm cakes, so I heat up cake slices for a minute in the microwave before eating them.
Are you wondering if you can bake this cake with other alcohol? Yes, you can also bake the same cake using other spirits like brandy or whiskey. I even tried the same recipe with spiced rum, and the results were fantastic. You could even use spirits and liqueurs with special flavors such as cherry brandy, amaretto, orange liqueur, or other such flavors. You can also use a combination of spirits (like brandy and rum) to make the cake extra boozy. And if you wish to bake non-alcoholic cakes, you can substitute the rum with orange juice, apple juice, ginger cordial, or cold tea.
If you are planning on baking a Christmas fruit cake this year, try out this recipe and let us know how it turns out for you. For those who are short on time, you can quickly order Christmas cakes online from Bakehoney.com where you can find a wide range of delicious cakes and baking supplies.
This blog was contributed by Sindhu Menon.