Since Christmas is not far away, I wanted to make this cake that resembles the traditional English fruit cake a lot, at least by appearance, but that is actually a substitute to the traditional fruit cake. As you may be aware, the traditional English fruit cake contains rum/brandy and eggs. The fruits and nuts are let to soak in rum for a month when making a traditional fruit cake. I know there are some people who, for various reasons, want to omit any or any one of these ingredients. This fruit cake recipe is made sans eggs and alcohol.
Unfortunately, I did not manage to get hold of the eggless fruit cake recipe that my relations follow in Sri Lanka. So I baked this cake with much trepidation because I was unsure of the measurements, which is a-z when it comes to baking. I also used a few ingredients that were not used in that recipe. The cake was still very soft when I inserted the skewer 45 minutes in the oven. I could only breathe a sigh of relief when the cake was out of the oven. It turned out soft and moist and not overly sweet, as I we had thought, which is a good thing, because both of my parents are diabetics. Everyone in my family relished it, including my parents. Since this cake turned out well, I also decided to submit my entry for a Christmas-themed events and give-aways at various blogs, that you can see if you scroll down this post.
In Indian fruit/plum cake recipes, orange juice is often used to replace rum. In northern Sri Lanka, tea is used to soak the dates overnight. I'm sure there are many more options. I decided to substitute rum with orange juice. I also opted for an easier way out to making my own caramel - I used sweetened, condensed milk. This along with the brown sugar helped achieving the rustic colour. As for dried fruits and nuts, you could use any dried fruits and nuts of your choice. If you or anyone in the family is allergic to nuts, you could use dates, figs, raisins, candied cherries, apricots, pineapple etc. as per your liking.
Fruit and nut mixture:
1 1/2 cup dates
1 cup canned pineapple
1/2 cup cashew nuts
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 tbs chopped ginger
3/4 cup unsweetened orange juice
225 g salted butter (softened)
1/2 brown sugar
1/2 caster sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder
Chop the dates, pineapple, almonds, cashew nuts the size of raisins. Chop the ginger finely. In a pan, mix these ingredients in orange juice over low heat until the dry fruits and nuts have absorbed the orange juice. Put aside and allow to cool.
Mix the flour with the spices and the baking powder and baking soda and put aside. In a separate bowl, beat the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. I used the brown sugar to get the rustic colour. The caster sugar was added for sweetness. Add 3/4 cup flour in the butter mixture. Mix carefully.
Spoon in the cooled fruit and nut mixture in a large bowl. Add sweetened, condensed milk and mix. Add the remaining flour and mix. Pour the fruit and nut batter into the butter mixture and mix carefully and well. Butter the baking tin and spoon in the cake mixture in the baking tin and even it out.
Bake the cake in the lower parts of a preheated oven at 175 C (around 350 F) for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your oven. Insert a skewer in the centre of the cake to check whether the cake is ready. Skewer should come out clean if the cake is ready. Take the cake out and let it rest in the baking tin for about 10 minutes. Then gently unfold it. It is a soft cake that has a tendency to crumble but is nevertheless delicious. Wrap them up in aluminium foil and keep them in an airtight container to prevent it from getting dry.