I am drunk! Absolutely boozy! I am rum! Not me, darlings! It’s my Christmas cake.
I do not drink save a rare tequila or a glass of wine. A girl is allowed that much distraction, right? Whatever I have stocked is stuff I use for cooking. The fact that alcohol evaporates makes it easier to take liberty. I didn’t know that ‘that fact’ was known to my daughter who loves gourmet food – blame it on all the cooking happening at Top Chef and Master Chef! One day I returned home from work and she presented me this beautifully made spaghetti all twirled and sitting prettily in a plate. I tasted and exclaimed saying it was just so good! She proudly showed me the bottle of carefully stored white wine and excitedly told me how she had reduced it to make the sauce. For a long time after that I did not use any more alcohol and ever since I have been careful to demarcate the boundaries – ‘I can, but you cannot’.
Now, if you are a ma like me you will loosen up during festivals. You won’t? Hmm…. In that case you can use orange juice instead. It is not the same but it is quite close. Apart from that little change you just have to follow the recipe as it is.
Now for the likeminded.
I dunk my dried fruits (black raisins, currants, dried cherries and other berries, dates, and apricots) in rum for a whole year before Christmas. So, if I have made my cake today, tomorrow I just replenish the supply and let it sit in a dark hidden spot till its time to smell it the next year. But if you haven’t do not fret. It will flavour well even if soaked overnight, though it will not be quite the same. We are done with the preliminaries so let’s just go on to the recipe. I am not going to chatter much today. It is the cake that is important and I am not losing focus. I do sound a tad happier than usual, don’t I? I hope it’s not all that rum in the cake, dears. Do you? I forgot to mention that the cake was made a few days back. My husband and kids could not wait and I needed to take pictures so we decided to eat half that very day and I carefully saved the other half packed in cheesecloth and kept refreshing it with a tablespoon of rum all over. I returned from a work a while back, unwrapped the cheesecloth and took a peek. There was the mistake. Jr.H and I demolished another half (she a thin slice and me a few thick ones). We have graciously left a quarter for the boys.
It is fruity, boozy, very delicious, moist and absolutely makes your Christmas so much merrier! Here is how I made it.
The quantity I made is not much. The cake fits a six inch round tin. I veganized this from Vera’s adaptation of Emily Dickinson’s Black Cake recipe. It struck me when I saw the link shared by David Lebovitz. I have changed it quite a bit along the way. I use brandy usually but decided on rum this time.
Recipe: Rum soaked Black Cake
Yield: I was left with some batter after pouring a six inch round cake pan till it was 2/3rds full.
Flour – 2 cups
Baking soda – ½ tbsp
Nutmeg, ground – 1 tsp.
Cloves, mace and cinnamon, ground together – 1 tsp.
Salt – One pinch
Oil (I combined extra virgin coconut oil and sunflower oil together) – ½ cup (You could use ¾ but I stuck to ½ to reduce the fat but felt the cake could have used a tad more)
Sugar – ¾ cup
Tahini, cashew cream and corn syrup (optional) – 1 tbsp. each, mixed together
Rum – ¼ cup
Thin molasses – ¼ cup
Various dried fruits soaked in rum – 1.5 cups
Dates, chopped – 1/3 cup
Fresh citrus peels – ¼ cup
(I cut orange peels into strips and let them boil in hot water for about 10 minutes. Drained to remove bitterness if any, and chopped them into tiny pieces)
Preheat oven to 150 deg. C. Grease and line a 6” round pan with baking paper.
Run flour, baking soda, spices and salt together in a mixer till combined. Empty into a stainless steel or glass mixing bowl.
Mix the oil, sugar, tanini-cashew-corn syrup paste, rum together well and run for a minute in the mixer to blend lightly. Not too long.
Add half the flour and molasses and mix well. Mix the fruits with the rest of the flour and add again. Stir well. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, or till dark brown and well risen. Test and check that a skewer or toothpick poked in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for ten minutes and turn out the cake. Remove the parchment paper. Brush the top lightly with a brush dipped in rum.
Serve when cool or wrap in cheesecloth soaked in rum/brandy and store in an air-tight container.
Dribble a tbsp of rum/brandy daily to let the flavour soak in the cake and to keep it really moist or it will dry up!
After pouring the batter into a six inch round tin, I was left with a little more that could fill only a small tart tin. My children find fruit cakes too fruity and sweet so I decided to make a cake in a tart. I took some to office and imagine my delight when my friends liked the ‘tart cake’ so much that they actually said they would make their fruit cakes in tart form next time. The biscuit base actually balances the sweetness of the cake very well.
The last time I had posted a dish with molasses I was asked where one can get it in India. Molasses is a by product produced during extraction of jaggery/sugar. It is locally known as ‘kakvi’ in Maharashtra. I got a generous supply from a friend who recently went to Kolhapur where all the sugar factories are located. But you get the imported variety in Crawford Market. Try and source the local one. I found it so much better than the imported stuff I bought from Crawford Market.
I would like to mention that the cake is a little difficult to slice into precise triangles or neat slices. Your knife is bound to trip over fruits on its way down and your recipe has baked spot on if you find crumbs falling out as you cut. Expect that especially after a few days of keeping.