This particular cake I am extremely fond of and even the thought of it, takes me straight down the memory lane. In high school, we had a catholic teacher named Mrs. David who used to take our Economics class. She was immensely loving and motherly. It was from her that we came to know of this cake for the very first time. I remember being awed when she told us a month before Christmas, that she had already soaked her dried-fruit for her Christmas cake. After that, every 5-6 days she would tell of us of some spice or a condiment that she added to that rum mixture. As teenagers, we were start-struck by the idea of such a cake. She invited us for Christmas lunch at her place that year and that cake, ummmmmm….it was everything that we had imagined it to be and more!
This year I had sworn that I would make my own rum-cake. I soaked my dried-fruit 2 weeks before Christmas and spent days looking up recipes in cookbooks and on the internet. The recipe I liked had several layers to it and at the time when the cake was baking in the oven, I remember being very worried that too many ingredients are going to spoil the final outcome. To my relief, no such thing happened. The cake came out perfect and I could see that every little element has contributed so much to the flavor and texture of the cake. I messaged Mrs David on Christmas to wish her and also told her that I have made a Rum cake of my own this year, missing her throughout the process.
In all our lives, there are many foods that are close to our hearts, solely because they remind us of a special someone. Christmas Rum cake is one such food for me.
An important tip- Do not cut this cake as soon as you bake it. Traditionally , this cake is baked a week or two in advance to let the Rum get soaked in and is cut on the Christmas day. Due to some reason, I could only bake it two days before X’mas but it still turned out great.
So, give this recipe a go and happy holidays folks!
1.5 cup plain flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter at room temperature
1 tsp baking powder
2-3 drops of vanilla essence
200 grams mixed dried-fruit of your choice like raisins, sultanas, prunes etc
400 ml of Captain Morgan’s dark Rum
2 tbsn marmalade
Zest of 1 orange and 1/2 lemon
1 tsp honey (optional)
3 tbsp chopped walnuts and almonds
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsn water
1/4 cup hot, boiling water
For mixed spice-
1 cinnamon stick
1 big cardamom
1/2 tsp ginger powder
-Soak the dried fruits in Rum, in an air-tight glass container and keep in a cool, dry place for two weeks. Every couple of days, shake/stir the mixture.
–For the mixed spice– In a blender, put all the ingredients for the mixed spice except ginger powder and grind to a fine, dry powder. Do not use water. If your blender doesn’t have a smaller setting to grind spices, you can also prepare this powder by hand. Put all the ingredients inside a folded sheet of newspaper and roll the rolling pin (or any other heavy, cylindrical item from your kitchen) over the newspaper till you get a fine powder.
-To this powder, add your ginger powder and mix well. The lovely fragrant mixed spice is ready. You don’t need to use all of it in the cake. Adjust according to your taste as it’s quite strong. Store the rest in an air-tight container.
-On the day of baking the cake, strain the dried-fruit of Rum and preserve the flavorful alcohol. Coat the dry fruits with around 1 tbsn of plain flour to prevent them from sinking to the bottom in the cake batter.
-Next, make your Caramel- this will nuetralise the strong taste of the alcohol and will give that brown color to your Rum cake. Take the sugar and water in deep pan and put on heat on medium flame. Stir once in a while to avoid lumps. Do not disturb it too much or you won’t get your brown color and the water will soon evaporate away. Once you see the edges of the mixture turning brown, start stirring and wait till you see it turning a nice ‘caramel-brown’ uniformly. Immediately take it off the stove and add your hot water to the syrup, all the while stirring. You need to be very careful at this point as the syrup will splash when you add hot water to it. Best to wear oven mitts for this stage. Set aside to cool.
-Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C.
-In a bowl, take the sugar and butter and beat till the mixture looks creamy and fluffy.
-Beat your egg very well in a separate bowl.
-Now mix some flour in the butter and sugar mixture- beat well! Then add some egg in the butter-beat well! Continue this alternate cycle till u run out of flour and eggs.
-After that, add the vanilla essence, baking powder, chopped nuts, caramel, marmalade, mixed spice and rum soaked dried-fruit in the batter. Fold in gently.
-Lastly, grate in your zest from the orange and the lemon directly into the batter and give it a final mix.
-Grease your baking pan with a thin layer of butter and also sprinkle some flour all over. You can also use baking parchment.
-Pour in the batter and bake for 40 mins at 185 degrees. Do not open the door to check before 20-25 minutes at all. After that, open and insert a toothpick in the middle. If it comes out clean then your cake is ready. If the middle still seems soft and uncooked, keep baking till done, checking every 5-6 minutes with the toothpick.
-Let the cake sit in warm oven for 10 mins but with its door open. Do not take the cake out from the baking pan yet as we still have to add the syrup in it.
-Once the cake has cooled down, take 2 tablespoon of the preserved Rum in which you had soaked your dried-fruit and poking holes in the cake with a toothpick, pour it over the cake. You can totally skip this step if you think that your cake has a strong enough alcohol flavor but the syrup contributes a lot in the moistness of the cake. I also added a little honey to this syrup but that is optional as well.
-After a couple of hours, take the cooled cake out from the tin and carefully wrap it in a cling-film. It’s best if you let this cake rest a few days before cutting it, to let the Rum soaked in. Store in a dry place at room temperature.
-Serve with evening tea or as a dessert and enjoy!