I've always been a big fan of the dense, dark slices of plum cake that are wrapped in a translucent sheet of paper that we get in India... On seeing the fruit cakes here, I was rather excited at the prospect of re-living those yummy memories but they didn't stand a chance and came no where close to the taste of the plum cakes we get in India. Since I adore tutti fruiti I picked up a pack of Mixed Fruit & Peels that I saw on sale at the supermarket but the taste was quite different and rather disappointing...yet my craving for plum cake was still strong... and not wanting to add alcohol to the fruit mix, I decided to soak them in Pomegranate Juice (POM) but I didn't have enough so used the Pomegranate Blueberry juice that was in the fridge and let it marinate (refrigerated) for a month or so... along with some dates and raisins that I added to the mix as well, hoping that would improve the overall flavour.
I then used RP's fruit cake recipe primarily and was extremely pleased with the end result and couldn't get enough of it... :) The key is to have a really dark coloured caramel syrup so, the cake develops a rich, dark colour and nice flavour. So, here's my non-alcoholic version of a favorite... with a few changes I made.
Dried Fruits (Tutti fruti, cherries, raisins, dates etc) - 1.5 cups (soaked in POM or Pomegranate blueberry juice for a month or so in the fridge)
Nuts - 1/3 to 1/2 cup, chopped (I used walnuts and almonds)
All Purpose Flour - 1 cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Butter - 1 stick (1/4 lbs)
Eggs - 3
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Baking Soda - 1/4 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon powder, nutmeg powder, ginger powder & clove powder - 1/4 tsp each
Pure vanilla extract - 1 tsp
Sugar - 1/4 cup (to prepare caramel syrup)
1) Bring butter & eggs to room temperature.
2) To prepare Caramel Syrup, heat 1/4 cup sugar in a small pan with half tbsp of water. When the sugar begins to caramelize, stir slowly until it turns almost black (pretty dark). Remove pan from stove and place in sink (to avoid splatter - and oven mitts are recommended for the next step). Carefully pour 1/4 cup warm water to the caramel syrup (this is when you have to be careful of it splattering) and stir gently. Add the vanilla extract to this and keep aside.
3) Preheat oven to 350F and spray a cake pan with PAM or no-stick oil spray
4) In a bowl, beat the 1 cup sugar and butter to a creamy consistency. Then add the eggs one by one and beat well to incorporate.
5) In another large bowl, whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and the spice powders together. Stir in the fruit & nut mixture.
6) Add the caramel-vanilla syrup, and the creamed butter-sugar mixture and stir. Pour this into the greased pan and bake for abt 45 mins to an hour or until a toothpick inserted comes clean.
Ideally, the cake should be allowed to mature and rest for a few days before consuming but I couldn't resist my temptation.. so I reserved a portion of it to taste as soon as it cools down and wrapped the rest in foil and allowed to rest on the countertop for 2 days before slicing and storing in the fridge. Typically this type of cake lasts a long time but we finished eating it all in a few days... :)