Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas rum cake

  Christmas is the time for food and food and lots of food, In every gathering, every party... But if you don't have the proper kind of cake, it's  takes off the show... In India, during the Christmas season we used to gift the cakes to people around us to spread the joy and cheer of Christmas. Me and my younger sister used to go cake shopping,  on my two wheeler.   We normally used to go to a baker who makes cakes in Mettuguda, Hyderabad.  He runs his business from home.  He is always busy during this season.  He and his sibling works in that small rented room, sifting the flour, mixing, baking etc.  We had to place an order and pickup after a week or two.  The cakes he makes is so delicious, that you want to eat up everything.  I didn't know the name of the cake at that was black, with fruits and no icing.   When I came to Canada , I didn't get that kinda taste anywhere.  I didn't even know the name of the cake to buy or ask the recipe.  Some times I used to enjoy the same kind of cake in the weddings, in India.
Couple of years ago, a friend of mine from Jamaica shared her cake with me... It reminded me of the days of Hyderabad. My curiosity mounted and  showered her with too many questions, what is the name of the cake, what is the recipe ?  Where can I get it to buy?  She told me, that it is Jamaican rum cake, and you will not get to buy it anywhere because they don't make it in stores.  She happily shared her recipe.    It is so tasty that you will forget you are eating the cake without icing. It took me several years to obtain the name and recipe. So, here it is for you....

2¾ cups Raisins
1¾ cups currants
1 cup Candied Peel
½ cup Walnuts
1/3 cup Prunes, chopped
1/3 cup Candied Cherries, halved
2 cups Brown Sugar
1½ tsp each Vanilla and Almond Extract
½ tsp Nutmeg
¼ tsp Cinnamon
Pinch  of each:   ground Ginger, Allspice and Cloves
1 cup  Rum/ Sherry/ port wine
1 cup Unsalted Butter
5 eggs
1 tsp to 1 Tbsp Browning (depending on how dark you want your cake)
1½ cups All-purpose Flour
½ tsp each baking powder and salt

This cake has 4 stages of making, as opposed to regular cake .  

1. Soaking the fruit:   This is the major part of, this kind of  cake making.  If you know how to soak it you've won half the battle. Many people soak their fruit  for 6 months to one year ahead! Fruit that is soaked for that long will get very nice dark color. It doesn’t even need to be ground to paste because it will dissolve by itself into a thick fruit puree while mixing.
Combine raisins, currants, peel, walnuts, prunes and cherries. Add 1/3 cup brown sugar, vanilla and almond extracts, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and cloves. Stir in ½ cup of the rum.  Soak it in a Air tight bottle and store it .
Instant method of soaking the fruit:
One day ahead, in microwaveable bowl, combine raisins, currants, peel, walnuts, prunes and cherries. Add 1/3 cup brown sugar, vanilla and almond extracts, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and cloves. Stir in ½ cup of the rum. Cover and microwave at High for 10 minutes, stirring twice; let stand overnight. In large pot, bring fruit mixture and ½ cup of water to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often; set aside to cool. When fruit is cool, use a hand or stand blender, or a food processor to puree the fruit with 2 Tbsp of water.

2. Cake mixing:
In large mixing bowl, beat butter with remaining brown sugar, beat in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add fruit mixture and browning, blending well. In another mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt; fold in fruit mixture until well combined.

3. Baking: Pre- heat the oven
 Pour batter into two greased non-stick 9×5-inch  circle or loaf pans.
Place pans into 275 degree oven for 2 hours or until tester inserted in the center comes out slightly wet.
Let cakes cool in pans for ½ hour then turn out onto cooling rack and cool for another ½ hour

4. Liquid shower:  Combine remaining rum with port to make 1 cup of liquor; poke holes in the cakes with a skewer and pour ½ cup equally over the bottom of cakes.
Once the liquor has soaked into the cakes, carefully turn them back into their pans and pour the remaining liquor over the top of each cake. Cover with foil and let stand for 3 days.

Tip:1. For the black cake,  the dark colour is obtained on how much of browning you use and how long you soak the fruit in liquor.
 2. For those of you who don't use the liquor, grape juice can be substituted.

Storage Tip: Cakes can be wrapped in plastic wrap and Aluminum wrap on top and store it in a air tight tin at room temperature.  It stays for up to 1 month. If the cake dries out, just pour more rum or port over it.