Plum Cake & Christmas
Plum cake refers to a wide variety of cakes made with either dry fruits (currants, raisins, or prunes) or with fresh fruits. Since the meaning of the word ‘Plum’ has changed over time, many items referred to as plum cakes is now known as fruitcake. The story of the plum cake dates back to medieval England, where it was a popular tradition to practice self-denial, fasting and abstinence from every kind of indulgence for weeks leading to Christmas. The abstinence and occasional fasting were supposed to prepare body for the overindulgence during Christmas. According to custom, on the Christmas Eve, a rich porridge was cooked and eaten as an exercise for the stomach for the upcoming feast. The porridge is said to have been made with oats, dried fruits, spices, honey and sometimes meat. With the passage of time, oats were replaced with flour, eggs, and butter. Cooked in either boiling water or in oven, this is how the porridge started resembling the modern-day plum pudding or plum cake.
In the last two centuries, since the recipe moved out of England, the plum cake has reached every corner of the world. Every country, region and family have a different version of the recipe, and so does India. Indian plum cakes were first made in Kerala 1883, since then the state has kept the tradition of preparing Christmas cakes alive. The Kerala Plum Cakes are known for the addition of rum or some form of alcohol in the cake. If not directly, the nuts and dry fruits are soaked in rum, sherry or brandy for weeks before being baked. Served around the time of the Christmas holiday season, Indian plum cakes may have additional ingredients to the traditional recipe like cashews, ginger peel, dates, orange, almond, fig, and grapes, depending on the preferences of every household.
What excites us most about cold winters are the festivities, warmth amongst people, excitement, and a new year. People across the world gear up for celebrations starting from Thanksgiving to the New Year’s Eve. Gorging on Christmas fruit cakes or Plum cakes along with a million other recipes and dishes around the world, makes Christmas even more special. The aroma and taste of the Christmas Plum cake with its alcohol infused ingredients, is simply irresistible and intoxicating. These cakes are so hardwired into the souls of people, that it is impossible to imagine a Christmas without the delicious Plum dry cakes in it.