My Kerala style Plum Cake recipe is an easy-to-make tasty fruit cake without eggs or alcohol. Bonus – this delicious Christmas favorite is also vegan and made with whole wheat flour, making it a wholesome treat the whole family can enjoy.
About This Plum Cake
One major difference between this Kerala plum cake recipe and the other fruit cakes is the addition of caramel. This not only gives a nice brown color to the cake, but it also adds a lot of depth and flavor.
To make the caramel syrup for this Kerala plum cake, I checked the method on Nag’s Blog. Preparing caramel is not difficult, so don’t worry! Just cook the sugar and water on a low flame and keep stirring often.
I used packaged organic clear apple juice and 100% whole wheat flour (atta) for this Kerala style plum cake. I was also judicious with my use of added sugar and oil.
The natural sweetness of the dates, golden raisins and black currants used in the plum cake is a lovely counterpoint to the rich, nutty cake. While you should feel free to use the dried fruits and nuts of your choice, do not skip the candied orange peels; they give lovely bitter-sweet notes in some bites, which makes savoring the cake all the more delightful.
My Kerala plum cake is made without alcohol, which I swap for either fresh orange juice or apple juice. Soaking the dry fruits overnight plumps them up so they are nice and juicy; the added sweetness also helps to compensate for a lower sugar content in this healthy bake.
This recipe yields about 1 kilogram of soft, moist plum cake. I have used an 8-inch round pan, but you can use a 8.5 x 4.5 x 2.5 loaf pan if you prefer.
How to Make Plum Cake
Soak Nuts and Dried Fruits
1. Take all the dried fruits and nuts in a bowl. I prefer to rinse them in water and then drain them very well, but you can skip this step.
I used a combination of the following dried fruits and nuts:
- ½ cup dates or 7 small to medium-sized dates, 100 grams (weight measured with the stones)
- ¼ cup cashews
- 2 tablespoons almonds
- ¼ cup walnuts
- 2 tablespoons golden raisins
- 2 tablespoons black currants (without seeds)
- 2 tablespoons pistachios
- 8 to 10 glazed cherries or 8 to 10 canned cherries without the syrup
- 40 to 45 grams candied orange peels (If you do not have a weighing machine then rinse the candied peels first. Finely chop and measure to get about ¼ cup of finely chopped candied orange peels.)
You can add the nuts and dried fruits of your choice. Other yummy suggestions are: dried apricots, figs, pecans, pine nuts, hazelnuts or various dried berries.
2. Finely chop all of the nuts and fruits and collect in a mixing bowl. Feel free to chop the fruits and nuts in a food processor or food chopper for faster results.
Larger chunks will make your plum cake crumbly while slicing, so make them as small as possible.
NOTE: If using dates with stones, then be sure to discard the stones. If you use a food processor, then add roughly chopped dates with the other nuts and dry fruits before chopping.
3. Add 1 cup apple juice. The apple juice that we need is the flowing, thin, transparent apple juice available in stores.
NOTE: In a pinch, you can also use Fresh Apple Juice, but since homemade apple juice has a lot of pulp, increase to 1.5 cups fresh apple juice.
4. Mix very well. Allow the fruits to soak – covered in the fridge – for a day.
Whether you use packaged apple juice or fresh apple juice, do not keep the dry fruits soaking at room temperature. Mix and immediately refrigerate.
5. The photo below shows the fruit and nuts after soaking – you can see how much volume they gain. Bring this mixture to room temperature before you proceed with the plum cake recipe.
Prepare Caramel Solution
6. In a saucepan, take ½ cup sugar (100 grams) and 2 tablespoons water. I used raw sugar. You can easily use white sugar.
NOTE: You can also use brown sugar or jaggery instead of preparing the caramel solution. Simply dissolve the jaggery or brown sugar in 1 cup water and proceed to step 18.
7. Mix and stir very well. Place the pan on the stovetop over a low heat.
8. Bring the sugar solution to a boil over low heat. You will see the mixture bubbling initially, as shown in the photo below.
9. Continue to cook, stirring often.
10. At one point it will look as though the sugar is getting crystallized.
11. Continue to cook and stir frequently.
12. The pale brown color remains for a while, as you can see in the photo below.
13. Continue to cook and stir. Eventually you will see the color changing to a dark brown.
14. This color indicates the caramelization process has started. Since I was also handling the camera, I stopped here to prevent the caramel from getting burnt.
The color should become a little darker and you will also get a deep caramel aroma.
15. Remove the pan from the stovetop and place it on a heatproof pad on the countertop. Immediately add 1 cup water to the caramel, being very careful not to burn yourself as the mixture splutters.
16. The caramel will harden as soon as you add the water. Place the saucepan back on the stovetop over a low flame. Bring to a gentle simmer and stir often until all the hardened caramel is dissolved.
17. Let the liquid caramel solution cool completely, then filter it using a tea strainer or a fine mesh strainer and keep aside. You can see the impurities from the unrefined raw sugar in the picture below.
18. Once the caramel solution has cooled, add ⅓ cup oil. I used olive oil. You can also use sunflower oil or melted butter. If using melted butter, then add it when the caramel solution is still warm.
19. Thoroughly mix the oil with the caramel solution.
20. Next add 1.5 tablespoons lemon juice, apple cider vinegar or regular white vinegar. Mix again thoroughly.
Make Plum Cake Batter
21. Grease an 8 inch round pan very well with oil or butter. Preheat your oven at 180 degrees celsius(356 degrees Fahrenheit) for 15 minutes before you bake the cake.
22. Sift together the following ingredients:
- 2 cups whole wheat flour/atta (240 grams)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg powder
- ⅛ teaspoon clove powder
- ½ teaspoon cardamom powder (optional)
Note: You can also add ¼ teaspoon allspice powder and ¼ teaspoon ginger powder.
23. Sift all the dry ingredients through a sieve. Set aside.
24. Next add the soaked fruit, nuts and juice mixture to the sifted dry ingredients.
25. Using a spatula, mix lightly being careful to not overwork the mixture. You don’t want any gluten strands forming in the batter mix.
26. Add the caramel solution.
27. Add all of the caramel solution in one go.
28. Now fold the flour ingredients with the caramel solution. Don’t mix. To see how folding is done, you can check my Eggless Banana Bread YouTube video.
29. Fold to a smooth batter. If the batter looks too thick, then you can add some more water.
Bake The Plum Cake
30. Pour the batter in the prepared pan. Gently shake and tap the pan to even out the batter.
31. Place the pan in a preheated oven and bake the cake at 180 degrees celsius (356 degrees Fahrenheit) for 1 to 1.25 hours. If the top browns too quickly, then cover it with an aluminum foil or parchment paper and continue to bake.
Baking time varies with various brands and models of ovens, so be sure to keep a watchful eye over your plum cake. In case you remove the cake and find that it has not fully baked, simply return the pan to the oven and continue to bake.
A wooden skewer should come out mostly clean and dry if the cake is properly baked. There will be some moisture from the dry fruits on the skewer, but there should not be any sticky cake batter on it. You should see only fine crumbs.
Cool the plum cake in the pan on a wire rack until it is room temperature.
32. Here’s the base of the plum cake. As you can see, I was in a hurry and removed it from the pan while it was still hot, resulting in a crack on the base.
To avoid cracking, gently remove the cake from the pan ONLY when it has cooled to room temperature.
33. If you were impatient like me, you can sift some powdered sugar on top of the cake to hide the cracks. 🙂
Slice and serve the Kerala style plum cake, preferably with a cup of tea or coffee. Enjoy!
Storing and Serving Suggestions
The plum cake cake can also be refrigerated. It keeps good for 10 to 12 days in the fridge. I cut the cake in slices and stored them in an airtight box.
Serve as a dessert or a sweet snack with your Christmas meals. You can also enjoy the plum cake with a side of coffee, espresso, milk, tea or hot cocoa.
If using all-purpose flour, you might need to add less amount of caramel syrup. Since we are making the caramel syrup ahead, it is tricky to tell the correct amount. My suggestion would be to add an equal proportion of both whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour.
Absolutely! You can easily halve or double or triple my Kerala style plum cake recipe.
In your microwave oven, use the convection mode for baking. The cake cannot be baked using the microwave mode or microwave option. Preheat and bake your microwave oven using only the convection mode at 175 degrees Celsius.
No – fresh orange peels will make the cake very bitter. Omit the candied orange peels if you do not have them. But you can add orange zest – which is the orange colored part of a fresh orange peel. Use a grater or a zester, to get fine grates of the orange part of the peel and not the white part. You can add about 1 tablespoon of orange zest to the batter.
Dry fruits and nuts soften and soak really well when kept overnight. But if you are short of time, then soak them for 2 to 3 hours.
Of course! You can make the cake in a stove-top pressure cooker. Simply follow the steps outlined in this recipe post – Pressure Cooker Cake.
Plum Cake (No Eggs, No Alcohol, Whole Wheat)
To be soaked overnight
- ¼ cup walnuts – 25 grams
- 2 tablespoons golden raisins – 15 to 20 grams
- 2 tablespoons black currants (seedless) – 20 grams
- ¼ cup cashews – 30 grams
- ½ cup dates – 100 grams ( I used 7 kimia dates)
- 2 tablespoons almonds – 25 grams
- 2 tablespoons pistachios – 20 grams
- 8 to 10 grams glazed cherries – 25 grams or 8 to 10 canned cherries without the syrup
- 40 to 45 grams candied orange peels or about ¼ cup finely chopped candied orange peels
- 1 cup apple juice – clear and transparent juice, canned or packaged
- 2 cups whole wheat flour leveled – 240 grams
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder (ground cinnamon)
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg powder or grated nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon green cardamom powder
- ⅛ teaspoon clove powder
- ½ cup raw sugar – 100 grams, can add white sugar instead
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 cup water
- ⅓ cup olive oil – can add sunflower oil or any neutral flavored oil
- 1.5 tablespoons lemon juice or lime juice or apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
Soaking dry fruits and nuts
- Take all the dry fruits and nuts in a bowl. I just rinse them once or twice and then drain them very well.
- Now finely chop all of them and collect in a mixing bowl.
- Add the apple juice and mix very well.
- Cover the bowl and refrigerate letting the dry fruits soak in the apple juice for a day.
- Bring the dry fruits and apple juice mixture to room temperature before you proceed with making the cake.
- In a sauce pan, take the sugar and water.
- Mix and stir very well. Keep this pan on the stove top on a low heat. I have used organic unrefined cane sugar but you can use white sugar.
- Bring this sugar solution to a boil on a low heat. You will see the mixture bubbling initially.
- Continue to cook and do keep on stirring often.
- At one point it might look that the sugar is getting crystallized.
- Continue to cook and stir frequently till you see the color changing to a dark brown. Switch off at this point.
- Remove the pan from the stove top and place it down. Immediately add 1 cup water to the caramel. Be careful while doing so, as the mixture splutters.
- The caramel will harden as soon as you pour the water. Keep the saucepan back on the stove top on a low flame. Stir often and bring to a gentle simmer till all the hardened caramel is dissolved. Do stir often so as to aid in dissolving the caramel.
- Let this caramel solution cool completely.
- Once the caramel has cooled, add the oil. I used olive oil. You can also use sunflower oil or melted butter. If using melted butter then add it when the caramel solution turns warm.
- Mix the oil with the caramel solution very well.
- Next add lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. I have used lemon juice. You can also use white vinegar. Mix again very well.
Making cake batter
- Grease a 8-inch round pan very well with oil or butter. Also preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius (356 degrees Fahrenheit) for 15 mins before you bake.
- In a sieve, take whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon powder, nutmeg powder, clove powder and cardamom powder (optional).
- Sift all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
- Next add the soaked dry fruits + apple juice mixture to the sifted dry ingredients.
- With a spatula just mix lightly.
- Add the caramel solution.
- Now fold the flour ingredients with the caramel solution to a smooth batter.
- Pour the batter in the prepared pan.
- Gently shake and tap the pan so as to even out the batter.
- Place the pan in a preheated oven and bake the cake at 180 degrees Celsius (356 degrees Fahrenheit) for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. A wooden skewer should come out clean and dry when inserted in the cake.
- This cake has to be baked very well. If the top gets browned too much, then cover with an aluminium foil or parchment paper and bake. Baking time varies with various brands and models of oven.
- You can sift some powdered sugar on top of the cake to hide the cracks on the top. Slice and serve the cake.
Storing and serving suggestions
- The cake can also be refrigerated. It keeps good for 10 to 12 days in the fridge. Cut the kerala plum cake in slices and stored the slices in an airtight box.
- Enjoy the cake as a snack or dessert with your Christmas meals. You can choose to serve the cake with any beverage of your choice – hot cocoa, drinking chocolate, milk, tea, coffee, espresso or wine.
- Baking: The temperatures vary in various ovens. When the cake is baking, do keep a check but do not open the oven door many times as this can sunk the cake. Only open when ¾ of the cake is done and when you see the top nicely golden and baked.
- Nuts and dry fruits: You can vary the amount and add nuts and dry fruits of your choice and whatever is available to you.
- Apple juice: For soaking, you can use 1 cup packaged apple juice (preferably without preservatives) or 1.5 cups homemade fresh apple juice.
- Scaling: You can easily halve or double the recipe.
Nutrition Info (Approximate values)
This Kerala style plum cake recipe post from the archives first published in December 2015 has been republished and updated on 18 December 2021.