New England Malayalee Association’s blog

November 10, 2008

Christmas Special recipe – Plum cake


For a Malayalee, Plum cake is integral part of Christmas celebration. Jalina Shalabh shares the recipe of her famous plum cake preparation. Try it and please let us know if it was good.

I learned this recipe from my Mom. She made this every year around Christmas. Only difference from her recipe is, use of cashew nuts, that are from my Dad’s ‘Paranki Mavu’ and dry fruits that were dried at home.

I never got a chance to make it, since my two elder sisters (who thought I was adopted from an orphanage in Thirunalvelli, did not let me help at all in this task. Our helper ‘Raman’, who was from Thirunalvelli helped me to make a fake cake all the time around Xmas. So when my sisters distributed plum cake to the neighbors and friends, I used to distribute my sand cake to Raman and our colony choukidaar and our ‘doodh wala’.

Now don’t get alarmed, I told you I learned this from my Mom. After my sisters went off to college and my Mom retired from her teaching career, she taught me how to make this very special cake which is very dear to me. I don’t think I have mastered it like my Mom but she says I am close enough.

Here you go enjoy!


Raisins(Onakka munthiri) – 1 lb
Dates(Eenthapazham) – 1 lb
Candied fruits and orange and lemon peel – 1 cup
rum/brandy – 1 cup
Cashews – 2 cups
Allpurpose flour(Maida) – 4 cups
Baking powder – 3 tsp
Butter – 1 lb
Sugar – 4 cups
Sugar – 1 cup (to make caramelized syrup)
Eggs – 12 nos
Cinnamon(Karugapatta) powder – 1 heaped tsp
Nutmeg(Jathikka) powder – 1 heaped tsp
Cloves(Grambu) powder – 1 heaped tsp
Dry ginger(Chukku) powder – 1 heaped tsp
Salt – 3 tsp
Vanilla essence – 4 tsp


1)Dice the fruits and coat them with 3 tbsp of flour.

2)Add rum and mix well.

3)Keep this at room temperature over two weeks atleast.

4)Dice or crush the nuts into small pieces.

:- You can do these steps the day before you plan to make the cake.

5)Place the eggs and butter at room temperature the night before you make the cake.

6)Preheat the oven to 350 degree F.

7)Measure and keep ready the flour, sugar and the flavorings.

:- To make the caramel, use a white enameled pot, if you have one. The light surface will help to see exactly the caramelizing process. If you don’t have one, use a medium saucepan.

8)Place 1 cup of sugar in the saucepan and add 2 tbsp of water.

9)Turn the stove to high and place the pan on the stove and let it boil.

:- Don’t stir the contents at all. As sugar melts and caramelizes, you may swirl the pan a bit once or twice.

10)Within 7 – 10 mins, a cherry wood colored caramel forms.

11)Immediately, remove the pan from the stove and very carefully add 1 cup of water to the caramel.

:- You may hold the pan above the sink and slowly add the water, for it may splash.

12)Stir the contents well to dissolve the caramel. Keep this aside.

13)Sift flour and baking powder, a couple of times and keep ready.

14)In a large container, whisk butter first and then add 4 cups of sugar and whisk again, until it is creamy.

15)Add eggs and whisk well.

16)Pour in the caramel syrup, the flavoring powders, salt and vanilla extract and mix everything together.

17)Add the flour-baking powder mix and fold this in with a wooden or plastic spatula or spoon.

18)When they are well mixed, add the candied fruits and nuts and mix again.

19)Spoon this into a 10 inch non stick loaf pans.

20)Bake for 1 hour at 350 degree F.

:- You may line the pan with parchment paper or brown paper (You will get this in Micheals or any craft store)

:- Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the middle of the pan. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done. If not, bake for another 10 – 15 mins and check again.

21)Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a cooling rake.

22)Pierce the cake with toothpick, and pour Brandy (about 3-4 tablespoon on each) on top and let it soak.

23)Before storing, cover the cake completely with wax paper first and then with aluminum foil and keep in the refrigerator

Photo courtesy: code_martials’s flickr page


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