While I do have a traditional fruitcake recipe on the blog, I most certainly have never been in favour of the stodgy stuff. A 9-inch cake jam-packed with dried fruits and peel to signify richness, so every bite is either a mix of candied citron or boozed up golden raisins, which is basically a nightmare for so many people. This is why people turn away from fruitcakes, or plum cakes, as referred to by the British, and still called to this day in India.
I have wanted to remedy this situation for too long, and after a few years, I frankly didn’t care if I was breaking from tradition, as long as it yielded a fruitcake that I could personally be proud of. I mean it’s great to hold on to family traditions, but so many of you are bound to waste the cake eventually instead of eating all of it, so really, what’s the point?
Since so many fruitcake recipes rely on a simple creaming of butter and sugar, eggs and flour, the moist final crumb that I like about certain fruitcakes must be from the soaked and chopped dried fruits, I gathered. The most obvious first step in making my own fruitcake recipe was to add lesser soaked fruit and not make the cake weigh down with exuberance. If you’re frowning at me for saying any of this, you will thank me when you taste it later.
Second, the bit about soaking your fruits. I choose to go with a darker rum like Captain Morgan, and brown sugar for the cake because I don’t want a light coloured crumb. The two just work so well together because of the molasses content in both the Captain Morgan rum, as well as the sugar. When soaking your dried fruits, Captain Morgan mellows beautifully as you keep it, even if it’s for a minimum of two days, which is what I insist you do. Longer is obviously better, and you could also heat the rum and the dried fruits gently, but take care to not bubble or boil the mixture. Warming it definitely aids the raisins and the sultanas, plumping them up nicely, and quickly.
Next, I wanted to make this an eggless recipe and still have a moist, tender crumb so I borrowed from my fruit friends, apple and banana. Adding applesauce and mashed bananas create a very hummingbird cake sort of crumb which goes great with the candied fruit. In the absence of eggs and butter, obviously I’ll opt for oil here, this also suddenly becomes accidentally vegan, which is fantastic. The Captain Morgan rum-soaked fruit, lend their soaked juices to the cake making this impossibly delicious.
You’d think I would stop there, but I took it a step further also giving the cake a rum syrup with the dark rum, vanilla and sugar to replicate the soaking of the fruitcake. Three trials in, I was so happy when I tasted the cake that I ate a rather large chunk in one sitting. The Captain Morgan rum came through, as did the candied fruit’s sweetness dispersed between bites and best of all, the cake’s crumb was tender and moist throughout, as opposed to the bits and bobs of surprises that turn up as you go through even a simple slice of fruitcake.
My Christmas Buckle
Yield makes Makes one 6-inch fruit cake or a thin 9 inch cake
Completely eggless and accidentally vegan, this fruitcake dials down the exuberant and rather giddy fruit-per-bite ratio of the traditional fruitcake and lets the rum shine in this buckle cake that comes together in a flash!
All-purpose flour 1 1/2 cup
Light brown sugar 3/4 cup, pulsed if the size of the crystals is too large
Baking soda 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon powder 1/2 tsp
Salt 1/4 tsp
Vegetable oil 3/4 cup
Applesauce 1/2 cup (you can find the recipe for Applesauce here. Make it with Captain Morgan Rum)
Bananas 3, overripe, medium-sized, or 2 large
Mixed Soaked dried fruits in Captain Morgan Rum 1/2 cup, drained from the liquid, but not squeezed out
Vanilla essence 2 tsp or 1 tsp Vanilla extract
Brown sugar 1 cup
Water 3/4 cup
Captain Morgan Rum 1/3 cup
Vanilla extract 1/4 tsp
Salt a pinch
You want to start on this cake two days before you want to bake it. Add 1/2 cup of mixed dried fruit such as candied peels, raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, etc to a saucepan. Open a bottle of Captain Morgan Rum and tip it in the direction of the pan, letting the rum flow until the dry fruits look fully submerged.
Bring the contents of the saucepan up to a very gentle simmer over medium heat. If it starts to steam, turn off the flame and set the saucepan aside, covered leaving the dry fruit to plump up After two nights of the fruits soaking, start on the cake.
Before you start on the cake, preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius for 15-20 minutes at least. Grease and line a 6-inch springform cake tin with baking paper. Whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt using a whisk. In another bowl, whisk together the applesauce, bananas, vegetable oil and vanilla vigorously till it looks well-emulsified and thick. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk twice or thrice before switching to a spatula and folding lightly. You must take care to not work the batter too much.
Spoon large mounds of the batter into the cake tin, then alternate with a layer of the soaked dried fruit. Repeat till you have used up both the batter and the soaked dried fruit. Tap the pan once firmly on the kitchen top before transferring to the oven to bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake at an angle comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning it out. You must pour the glaze over the cake now and not when it has cooled completely.
Heat the ingredients of the glaze together in a small saucepan over medium-low heat as the cake cools, letting the glaze slowly thicken and become of a syrupy consistency and dark in colour. Take it off the heat. Poke holes into the top of the cake gently and pour the glaze over, letting some of it absorb into the cake and the remaining will form a delicious rum flavoured top as it cools.
Alternately, dust the top of the buckle with icing sugar and serve. This is an extremely moist fruit cake that tastes best a few days after it is made.