A good, rich, dark and sometimes boozy Christmas Fruit Cake is a must-have on every Christmas platter. Studded with dry fruit soaked in rum and spiced with beautiful holiday flavours, this recipe is sure to win you over.
In most Christian homes along the south west coast of India, a good Dark Fruit cake makes an appearance at Christmas and all special occasions like engagement parties, weddings, anniversaries, Communion celebrations and so on. It also holds a very prominent spot on a typical Christmas platter, or what is locally referred to as a Kuswar platter. (Kuswar=Christmas sweets)
Most people I know enjoy a good fruit cake, but very often, find it too tedious to make one at home. They settle for a commercially made cake, which very often has a number of additives including caramel colour to give it a deep, dark colour.
Today, I’m sharing with you, my favourite Fruit Cake recipe. This recipe is a little longer than most other cake recipes. However, I can assure you it is a fairly simple process and the end result is so good, it’s well worth all the extra effort. To help make the process easier, I’ve broken this recipe down into a few parts. Some of them can actually be done days before you’d like to bake this cake. The best part is, this cake tastes best if it’s allowed to rest for a couple of days, so it’s a perfect one to make ahead.
Step 1 – Soaking the fruit
This recipe calls for 500gms of mixed dry fruit. In my assortment, I’ve used raisins, sultanas, currants, mixed peel, candied / glacéd cherries and candied ginger. You can use any dry fruits of your choosing, in the proportion you’d like them. It just needs to add up to about 500 grams all together.
Chop the larger pieces of fruit down to make slicing your finished cake easier. Doing this also makes for a better eating experience, in my opinion. Place all the fruit in an airtight glass jar, top it off with some rum and set it aside in a cool dark place. The fruit needs atleast 24 hours to soak and rehydrate. The longer is steeps in the rum, the better the results. This can be done upto a year in advance.
Step 2 – Making the caramel
The 2nd step is making the caramel. There are many ways to make a caramel. For this recipe, you’re looking for one that gives you a slightly more fluid consistency. I’m using a 2:1 ratio – 2 parts sugar to one part water and I find that this gives me the perfect results for this recipe. You can make this caramel even a few days before you want to bake your cake. Simply let it cool down completely and store in an airtight glass jar. If you’re making this the caramel, the day that you’re baking the fruit cake, make sure the caramel has cooled down completely before you add it to the batter.
Step 3 – Making the cake
Making the batter is a very simple process. It’s just like making any other cake. You need to ensure all your ingredients are at room temperature. In this recipe, I’m using dark brown sugar to help lend a darker colour to the cake. If you can’t find dark brown sugar, regular white sugar will work too. Just make sure you use a fine grain sugar or simply powder your regular white sugar before adding it to the batter.
Sometimes, you find that the fruit in a fruit cake like this one isn’t evenly distributed. Mix the fruit into the flour – baking powder mix to ensure that the fruit doesn’t sink to the bottom of the cake.
Also, in this recipe, I’m using treacle to darken my cake and give it an added boost of flavour. If you can’t find treacle, use some molasses instead. I’m not using any artificial colours. A lot of the commercially available dark fruit cakes use caramel colour. If you’d like to, you can add some to the batter.
I’m going to feed this cake only once with some dark rum, just as it comes out of the oven. This will help the cake soak up all the rum.
While you can cut into the cake as soon as it cools dow, for best results, I recommend atleast letting it stand overnight before you cut into it.
Once all the Hard Yakka’s out of the way, sit back and enjoy your stunning Fruit Cake.
One of the best things about the onset of spring and the weather warming up, is the abundance of fresh fruit and veg in my part of the world. This year we’ve already seen an abundance of beautiful strawberries in the market. And the blueberries are close behind. I’ve only just come to realize that I haven’t baked much with fresh fruit in a very long time. So during the last grocery run, I picked up a few punnets of strawberries. Though I think the best way to enjoy them is eating them straightaway, I couldn’t turn down an opportunity to try baking with them.
So last week I shared with you a lesser known, but extremely yummy recipe for a biscuit found in the Pune-Mumbai region – Shrewsbury Biscuits. If you haven’t seen that yet, go check it out, I’ll still be here when you get back.
Okay, so you’re back. Today, is the turn for another lesser known recipe, this time for a cake called Mawa Cake. Again, as far as I know this cake is found in the Pune-Mumbai region. Kayani Bakery in Pune and Merwan’s Cake shop in Mumbai are popular for their Mawa cake, though you will find quite a few other shops selling this cake. They are usually sold in packs of 6 – 6 muffin sized pieces. This simple cake is so very special. It is not much to look at, but what it lacks in looks, it makes up for in taste. If you’ve never heard about this cake before, you should put it on your list of recipes to try out. Mawa is nothing but milk solids and this is widely used in a lot of Indian sweets.
A lot of people cringe at the thought of making their own mawa and just buy it from the local Dairy shop in India. This is because, while it is a simple process of reducing milk, working with about a litre of milk could take you about an hour to process. In the past, I have made Mawa the traditional way a couple of times. But for this cake, I decided to try out a cheat’s version of Mawa. This method takes literally 2 minutes at the most, and you would never be able to tell that it is an instant version. I’m so happy that I found this method. I have a whole bunch of recipes for Indian sweets that I’ve been ignoring, simply because it calls for Mawa. But that has changed, so you can expect to see some more Indian sweets / Mithai recipes, just before the Indian festival season starts.
Back to the cake. If you have your Mawa sorted out, the rest of the recipe is like a simple pound cake one but with a serious flavor profile. The Mawa adds a richness to the cake and it is mildly flavored with cardamom powder, resulting in a very exotic tasting cake. This time around my husband made the cake, which I guess made it even tastier (lol). He chose to bake this in an 8″ round cake tin, but you could bake it in a cupcake tray too. I do hope you try it out.
Yields: an 8 inch cake or 15-16 cupcakes
1 portion of homemade mawa (recipe below) or 200g unsweetened mawa
200g all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cardamom powder (Seeds of about 10-12 green cardamom pods, powdered)
Preheat the oven to 160ºC.
Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Beat the whites to a stiff froth and keep aside.
In another bowl, cream the butter, sugar and egg yolks till light and creamy.
Add the mawa, cardamom powder, baking powder and flour and mix till well incorporated. (If the mawa in store bought or is a firm block, grate it before adding into the batter)
Fold in the beaten egg whites gently till just evenly incorporated in the batter.
Pour the batter in the prepared cake pan and bake for about 40-50 minutes (if using a cupcake tray, bake for 15-20 minutes) or till a bamboo skewer inserted near the middle of the cake come out clean.
Cool completely, cut and serve. Don’t get fooled by the look of the cake. It tastes a whole lot better than it looks. And don’t forget, if my husband (who has probably not baked more than a handful of times so far), can whip this up, so can you.
How to make Instant Mawa?
1 tbsp ghee / clarified butter
1/4 cup milk
1 cup full fat milk powder
Warm the ghee and the milk together. You just want this mixture warm, not hot.
Add the milk powder and stir and cook till it comes apart from the pan and starts forming a ball.
Use to make mawa cake.
Notes: If you are baking the cake in a regular cake tin and not a cupcake tray, in some cases, the milk solids may cause the cake to brown quickly. This is normal, but if you think it is browning too fast and may burn, cover the tin loosely with aluminium foil and continue baking till the cake is done.
Have you tried a date and walnut cake before? A lot of people haven’t. If you’ve spent some time in Bombay and been a part of celebrations there, every now and then you will find a Date & Walnut Cake pop up. This cake is a beautiful tea cake. It has a lovely flavor from the dates, a crunch from the walnuts and a rich, dark color that the dates lend to it. It has the most beautiful, luscious crumb. I can’t praise this cake enough. You have to try it to believe it. Its a shame I don’t make this cake more often.
As for keeping it real, I know a lot of food blogs are perfect. Not just picture perfect, but flawless in so many ways. My little blog is far from that. I like that it is human in that way. Even in my kitchen, there are times where I make some boo boos, I have brain farts and sometimes, I just could’ve planned better. This is one of those times where my brain was on a trip of its own. Maybe I was just over excited about this cake. While this cake batter is really easy to put together, I forgot to put the walnuts in it. I only realized this after pouring the batter into my parchment lined loaf pan. So what did I do? I just poured the walnuts on top and tried to stir it through the batter. That is why, you’ll notice the walnuts are mostly near the top of the cake. If you add them to the batter when you are supposed to, it will be better distributed. Now I could’ve waited till I baked this cake again to post this recipe. But in the true spirit of keeping it real and not wanting to keep this recipe from you any longer, I decided to post it with its tiny imperfection. I cannot tell you how amazing this cake is and I do hope you try it out.
Here’s the video recipe, to help you through the process –
Date & Walnut Cake
I’m always on the look out for new ways to use up these over ripe bananas. You may have noticed I have more than a few recipes on the blog that you can try out, if you need to use up some bananas. But this time, I wanted something a little more indulgent. On my recent trip to Costco, I bought a bag (a fairly large one) of bittersweet chocolate chips, so I thought why not use some chocolate chips in a good banana bread recipe. After a little looking around, I found one I knew was going to be great.
A little mashing, a few whisks and a very short while later, I was ready to pop this Chocolate Chip Banana Bread in the oven. Just one large mixing bowl needed. You don’t even need to break out the heavy duty equipment to whip up this batter. After baking and probably doing the hardest part of this recipe – waiting for it to cool down, I ended up with a pillowy soft loaf of Banana bread studded with chocolate chips, some still a little melted from the baking, lending a beautiful, but not too sweet, chocolatey (Wait! is that even a word?) element to this bread. I know this recipe is a keeper. Try it out for yourself and see,
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Yields: 1 Loaf
Recipe from: Something Swanky
4 medium over ripe bananas
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (plus extra to sprinkle on top)
Preheat your oven to 180ºC.
Line a loaf tray with greaseproof paper and spray with cooking spray. I used my olive oil spray.
In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas till they are mostly smooth.
Add the egg, sugar, vanilla and oil and whisk to mix well.
Next, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon powder and salt and mix till a batter forms. Do not over mix.
Fold in the chocolate chips using a rubber / silicone spatula.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin.
Sprinkle a few more chocolate chips on top if you like. At this stage, I would recommend slightly pressing these chocolate chips into the batter. It will look better this way. I didn’t do that but will definitely do it the next time.
Bake for about 40-45 minutes or till a skewer pierced though the centre comes out clean. Try and avoid piercing any of the chocolate chips. If you hit a chocolate chip, wipe the skewer down and check again.
When it is done, take it out of the oven and leave to cool for about 10-15 minutes.
Slice and enjoy with a hot cuppa tea of coffee or even some milk.
Here’s what the inside looks like. Yummmm!
Need more ideas to use up some over ripe bananas? Try these —
1) Banana Bread
2) Mini Eggless Banana Walnut Muffins
3) Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Scones
4) Banana Oat Blueberry Pancakes
5) Mango Smoothie Bowl (Peel the over ripe bananas, put in freezer friendly zip lock bags and use anytime to make this smoothie bowl)
6) Blueberry Smoothie Bowl (Again, peel the over ripe bananas, put in freezer friendly zip lock bags and use anytime to make this smoothie bowl)
I haven’t baked in ages. Furthermore, its been about three months since I last shared a baked recipe here. I was tossing between cookies, brownies and tea cakes. And while I was looking, I realized that I had this exotic little gem saved in my massive ‘must-try’ list. And with a name as exotic sounding as Basbousa, I had to. So as soon as the temperature dipped a tiny bit, I decided to turn the oven on. Basbousa is an Egyptian semolina cake drenched in sugar syrup.
This batter comes together really quick and easily. There’s no need to break out the heavy equipment, I just used a whisk. So basically you bake the cake, make a sugar syrup and drizzle it over the cake and top with some sliced / slivered (flaked) almonds and coconut chips and that’s it. This is a dense tea cake, so don’t expect a light sponge. It has a very different flavor profile compared to a basic sponge too. It has a subtle tang from the yogurt and the lemon in the syrup. Dare I say, it is very deliciously different. My husband really liked this cake. And he is someone who loves a good chocolate cake and the occasional sponge cake. This one though, he has asked me to keep track of, so that we can make it again. Imagine my surprise. But then again, it wasn’t overly surprising considering how good this cake is. Try it out for yourself.
Recipe from: The Mediterranean Dish
For the cake –
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup natural, unflavored yogurt
2 cups coarse semolina
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup sliced / flaked almonds
1/4 cup sweetened coconut chips or sweetened shredded coconut
For the syrup –
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 3/4 cup water
1/4 tsp lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 170ºC and grease a 9 inch cake tin and keep aside.
Melt the butter and set aside. You can do this in a little saucepan on the stovetop on in a little microwave safe bowl in the microwave. Set this aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt and sugar.
Now add the semolina, milk and baking powder and mix thoroughly.
Next, stir in the melted butter and whisk well. Let the batter rest for a while (about 5-10 minutes or so) for the semolina to absorb some of the moisture.
Pour the batter into the greased cake tin and bake for about 40-45 minutes.
While the cake is baking, make the sugar syrup. Place the sugar water and cinnamon in a saucepan. Bring to a boil on high heat stirring occasionally, but only till the sugar dissolves. Turn the heat down to low and continue to cook for a few minutes till the syrup thickens. Then take off the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
Set aside to cool and then remove the cinnamon.
When the cake is ready, take it out of the oven and immediately pour the cool syrup on the hot cake.
Leave the cake to cool off completely and let the cake absorb the syrup, at least for an hour.
Just before serving, top the cake with the almond and coconut chips.
4 ingredients, a quick stir and 2 minutes later, your kitchen will smell amazing and you’ll have a little mug of deliciousness in the form of this cake ready. This recipe was really the obvious choice for this reveal when I think of it, atleast subconsciously. My first mug cake recipe – this 2-minute Chocolate Mug Cake is one of the more popular recipes on my blog. And I know why. The appeal of instant gratification is hard to turn down. So if you lurve your Nutella, treat yourself to this Mug Cake.
2-minute Nutella Mug Cake
4 tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup Nutella
3 tbsp milk
Whisk all the ingredients together. I find it easiest to whisk everything together in a bowl.
Pour the batter into a microwave safe mug.
Microwave for about 90 seconds and see if its done. If its not done, microwave in 30 second increments as needed.
We recently moved houses and while I didn’t have a microwave in the previous place, this place came with a microwave. I’ve have wanted to add a few microwave recipes on the blog for some time now, but I really didn’t want to buy one to do this. Now microwave cooking is not my method of choice. But I believe that anyone should be able to enjoy home made food. I know that there are folks out there that don’t own an oven so here’s how you can make small portions of cake at home without an oven. I have shared one recipe before for a 2 minute chocolate mug cake. We enjoyed it a lot. And looks like you did too. It is one of the most popular posts on the blog. I know, right? Who would’ve thought that a humble microwave cake recipe would be this popular. Certainly not me. So while I was looking at posts on Burnt Apple, I spotted this 2-minute mug cake recipe.
Now this may come as a little bit of a surprise to you, but this was also meant to be a chocolate cake recipe. The original recipe uses chocolate chips and I followed the recipe to the letter but I didn’t end up with a chocolate cake but something more like a layered cake. The top was a plain sponge but as you dig in you see little specks of chocolate from the chocolate chips and right at the base of the mug you will find this ooey-gooey molten chocolate. Totally not intentional, but pretty darn amazing. Also, did I mention that this is like an instant cake fix. That’s the part I really love. Another plus is the portion control. These are individual serves, so you really can’t go overboard. I was very pleased with this happy little accident. I think I might have to look for a few more such recipes.
2-minute Chocolate Chip Mug Cake
(This makes one portion. Feel free to double the recipe to make two portions.)
3 tbsp all purpose flour
3 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp milk
3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp chocolate chips
Place all the ingredients in a microwave safe mug.
Stir the mix till smooth.
Microwave on high for 90 seconds. (This was the recommendation of the original recipe. I had to keep mine in for another 60 seconds. Every microwave is different, so please check at the 90 seconds mark and use 30 second increments, if needed.)
The cake will be scalding hot. Let it stand for 2-3 minutes before eating.
For a slightly more indulgent treat, serve with a scoop of ice cream or with some whipped cream.
The deeper your spoon goes, the more chocolate you find 🙂
Let’s go back to where it all began, shall we! My husband and I were sitting one evening and watching the latest season of Masterchef Australia (one of my favourite food shows) and it happened to be a Masterclass episode. I’m so stoked they brought back the Masterclass episodes this year. I felt quite cheated out of them last year. Anyway, Matt Preston was making a baked cheesecake. We love cheesecake in our house. So we were very keen to check this masterclass out. Long story short, we loved the way his cheesecake turned out and decided that we would try it sometime soon.
Now I didn’t know how soon “soon” would actually be. I figured it would be a while before I got a chance to make one of them. Turned out, my husband had other plans. The following Saturday while I was at work (yes, unfortunately I do work some weekends), he actually went to the shops and picked out all the ingredients for the cake and had it prepped by the time I got home from work. We popped it in to bake and then in the fridge to set. After dinner that day we were both anxious to see how it turned out. It was HEAVENLY. Soft, creamy, beautifully flavoured with a fantastic crust. We we both very, very pleased with the way this cheesecake turned out and I can happily say that this will now be my go-to recipe for a baked Cheesecake. Thank you Matt Preston! and thank you Masterchef Australia!
For the base –
1 packet of Granita biscuits (250g pack) (if you can’t find Granita biscuits, you can use Digestive biscuits instead)
75 g butter, melted
For the filling –
750g cream cheese, at room temperature
230g or 1 cup caster sugar
2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
300ml double cream
Preheat the oven to 175ºC.
Line a 23cm spring form cake tin with baking paper.
Double wrap the outside of the cake tin with extra wide aluminium foil. This is to make the tin water tight to ensure that water from the little water bath you will create for the cake, doesn’t seep into the cake.
For the base, blitz the biscuits in a food processor till you get crumbs. Add the sugar and blitz again for a couple of seconds till its mixes well. Add the unsalted butter and blitz again to combine.
At this stage, your base mix should resemble coarse wet sand.
Press the mix into the bottom of the prepared cake tin, spreading it out with the back of a large wooden spoon to even it out.
Bake for 10 minutes till lightly brown and set.
Remove the tin from the oven and set aside to cool. This base should be completely cooled before you add the filling.
For the filling, place the cream cheese in a stand mixer and using a padding attachment beat till smooth and creamy.
Add the sugar and beat till the sugar has completely dissolved.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition and make sure the egg is fully incorporated in the mix before adding the next one.
Add the lemon juice, vanilla extract and salt and mix until well combined.
Now add the cream and mix until well combined.
Pour the mix over the cooled base. Set the cake tin in the middle of a larger roasting tray or larger baking dish. You want to ensure your roasting tray / baking dish has high sides. Set this on the middle rack of the oven.
Carefully, fill the roasting tray with boiling water upto a 2 cm height and bake till the cake has set and the top is a little golden brown. This should take about 65 minutes.
Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake inside the oven to cool with the oven door closed.
Then take the cheesecake and leave to cool completely.
Cover it and pop it into the fridge to cool a little and set further.
Serve with fresh berries if desired. But even by itself, the cake is so good you’ll be glad you baked it.
It was the perfect choice for me. I got to use the pumpkin in a sweet bake. And it made for the perfect breakfast on the go option, since I start work at 7 am now. (Gasp!) It keeps really well in the fridge too. This batch actually kept for a little over a week. All I did was take out the one or two we needed at the time and popped in the microwave for a few seconds to get the chill off and I ended up with a nice, warm, moist, flavourful muffin. I was more than pleased with this recipe and I can safely say I’ll be trying my hand at some more sweet recipes with pumpkin in the future. This recipe makes quite a few muffins. I made some in the muffin moulds and the rest I poured into a bundt pan and got a little cake out of it.
You will notice that the muffins look a little different. Well, I forgot to add stir in the fruit and nuts before pouring the batter in the pan so I just added a few to each muffic. The ones on top with the raisins and nuts visible clearly are those ones. That was the time I added the fruit and nuts to the batter and the muffins on the lowest row are made from that batter. I think I like the ones where I can see the raisins clearly better visually. So I’ve decided the next time I make these, I will stir in most of the fruit and nuts but reserve a few to place over each unbaked muffin so the look like they’re studded with little jewels. 🙂
The original recipe calls for canned pumpkin. I can’t find canned pumpkin at the local supermarket, so I used a whole Kent pumpkin and made my own puree.
Country Pumpkin Muffins
Adapted from: Taste of Home
Makes about 26-28 muffins
(I got one dozen muffins and a little bundt cake)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 cup water
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cloves
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 raisins (the original recipe calls for 1 1/2 cup)
1 cup chopped pecans (the original recipe uses walnuts but I didn’t have any)
To make the pumpkin puree –
Cut the pumkin in quarters / wedges.
Don’t worry about the skin. Leave it on for now. Its easier to take it off after baking.
Take out the seeds and membrane. You can roast the seeds to snack on. Discard the membrane.
Place the pumpkin skin side down on a lined baking tray and baked it in the oven at 180ºC for about 30-40 minutes or till the flesh of the pumpkin is tender. Test with a fork or a knife.
Let it cool. The skin just peels off. You may need to peel the skin off gently with a knife, but it comes off pretty easily.
Mash the flesh using a potato masher or you could puree it in a food processor, if you like. I just used the potato masher.
I used a smallish pumpkin and ended up using all the puree for this recipe, but any excess you may have can be frozen to use later.
To make the muffins –
Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
In a large bowl, mix the sugar, oil, eggs, pumpkin puree and water till combined.
In another bowl combine the dry ingredients, the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spice powders and salt.
Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin puree mix and blend well. Don’t overmix.
Fold in the raisins and chopped nuts.
Spoon batter into a lined muffin pan.
|Without the raisins & nuts —- with them added on top — a combination of both|
Bake for about 15 minutes or till done.
If you are baking the batter as a larger cake, it will take longer. My bundt cake baked for about 50 minutes.