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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Special -The adored fruitcake from India

Season’s Greetings !!!
Holidays are a time to spend with friends and family , have a good time,
reminisce and to make new memories. Coming to the reminisce part - my
childhood was spent on the beautiful verdant coast of Kerala. . “Unity in diversity” is
the mantra that we grew up. I remember taking a trek as part of the scouts
program and coming across 3 temples, 3 churches and 1 mosque all in a 5 Km
distance. Each one of these existed within earshot of each other and coexisted
peacefully. This is an image that stays with me even today.
If you visit Kerala during December, almost every porch will be decked with a
star. During Onam every front yard will be adorned with flower rangolis. A part of
the celebration that everyone loved was the Christmas Cakes. These are a
spiced up version of the Victorian Plum Cakes introduced to the country by the
British. Over the years it has undergone various revisions and has become
very much part of the local culture and cuisine. Rich, sweet and filled with fruits
nuts and spices these were a treat worth waiting for .
Christmas Fruit Cake
Chopped dry fruits - 500 gm (roughly 3 C )
Rum/brandy - 1/2 C
Chopped nuts - 100 gm (3/4 C)
Butter - 225 gm (1 C)
Sugar - 250 gm ( 1 to 1 1/4 C)
Eggs - 4
All Purpose Flour / Whole wheat Pastry Flour - 250 gm (1 1/2 C)
Baking Powder - 1 Tsp
Salt - A Pinch
Cloves - 1 Tsp
Cinnamon - 1 1/2 tsp
Nutmeg - 1/4 tsp (freshly grated)
Caraway Seeds - 1/2 Tsp
Vanilla Essence - 1 Tsp
Orange Zest - 1 Tbsp
Milk - 1/2 C
Hot Water - 1/2 C
Lemon -1
Pour the brandy/rum over the chopped fruits , toss well and set aside covered
for several hours.
Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature . Prepare the caramel by heating 4
Tbsp sugar over medium heat . Once the sugar turns brown add 1/2 C hot water
, stir and bring to a vigorous boil . Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 400 °F (Refer to notes ).
Sift the dry ingredients - the flour , baking powder, salt , and the spice powders
together and set aside .Cream the butter and sugar , reserving 2 tbsp sugar
.Separate the eggs whites and yolks .Add the yolks one by one to the butter
mixture and mix well .Mix in the orange and lemon zests and vanilla essence .
Toss the dry fruits in 2 tbsp flour add to the butter mix.
Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks along with 2 tbsp sugar and 1 tsp lemon
juice . Add 1/2 C milk to cooled caramel to make 1 C liquid. Add 2 tbsp flour mix to
the chopped nuts and toss to coat well.
Add the remaining flour and caramel mixes in parts to the butter mixture to form a
thick lump free batter . Fold in the nuts . Stir in part of the beaten egg whites to
loosen the thick batter . Gently fold in the rest of the egg whites .Transfer to the
prepared pans .
Bake 40 to 60 minutes (refer to notes ) or until the tops are browned and a tester
inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Cool in the pan for for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely
.Store in an airtight container.

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