Plum Cakes & Christmas – Whats the Connection?

Christmas is all about Cakes – specifically Plum Cakes (Do you know that Plum Cakes have no plums in them?)

Lets discuss

  • Where to get the best Plum cake in Bangalore (Its a secret)
  • The fascinating history of Plum Cake
  • An overview of Cakes baked across the globe during Christmas

But first let me share how I discovered the most delicious Plum Cake in Bangalore

Its an annual ritual to get a Plum Cake during Christmas. Normally its from a neighbourhood store. This year I decided to hunt for the best plum cake in town. I researched online, spoke to friends and looked at pictures (Good Brands & food talk to you). There was wide range out there – From the humble Iyengar bakery to the Exotic 5 Star bakes, Nilgiris, Smoor, Cakewalk, Glen’s bakehouse, Lavonne, Michelle Gafoor, Excelsior and a few more… from Rs 90 for a 200 gram cake at Iyengar’s bakery to premium stores charging 1000 – 1500/Kg.

But they all seemed the same. I could not connect with any of them. Something seemed amiss. They could not entice me to click on the Buy Button.

 Thats when I discovered the Plum Cake from L’inouï

L’inouï – means ‘extraordinary, incredible, unheard of, unprecedented’ in French. Their mission is to bring the finest chocolates and the fine art of chocolate making to Bangalore. And if you have a passion (and palate) for the finer things in life you must explore their products. They also make Plum Cakes.

The minute I saw the website and read about the company I connected. It seemed truthful and of high quality. While I placed my order immediately, I also called up asking to meet the owner of this unique Brand.

Anusha is a young 1st generation entrepreneur. The idea of creating a Chocolate Shop with European standards came to her mind when she was studying in Belgium. Most pastries in India try to appeal to the masses not via taste, but cost. So, corners are cut, substitutes are employed and an impersonator is born. The little treats often come out overly sugary and underwhelming. And the customer is left wanting. She embarked on a mission  – Use the best ingredients, don’t cut corners, and have specialists working for you. The results are remarkable and loyal customers are turning up in large numbers. When I asked her why Linoui products were 3 – 4 times more expensive, this was her answer.


So what did I like about Linoui’s Plum Cake? 

The packaging was elegant and nice. It was dense – packed with dry fruits, It was rich but not greasy. It did not crumble. It was delicious and it got better on day 2 & day 3. Most Plum Cakes you find in stores are 95% dough and 5% dry fruits. This one was the other way round. Plum cakes are best eaten after a few days of baking. Its good to feed it with Rum, that helps it to darken and stay moist. So when you buy your cake ask when it was baked.

Is the L’inouï Plum cake worth the steep premium? I would definitely say YES – Christmas comes only once a year, go for the best. For Online ordering –

Lets now look at some interesting Plum cake Trivia

What’s the Origin of Plum Cakes 

Fruit cakes date back to Roman times, where the people prepared a dessert called Satura, which comprised barley, dried raisins, pine nuts, pomegranate seeds and mead (wine made with honey). The English began making a different version of Satura during the Victorian period. This became a popular and an integral part of holiday feasts. They came to be known as Plum Cakes or plum puddings in England.

Plum Cakes and Christmas – what’s the connection

During the medieval period, there was a popular tradition of observing a period of fast before Christmas. Right before indulging in heavy treats and meals during Christmas, most people consumed a rich porridge that “prepared the stomach for feasting”. This porridge was made of oats, dried fruits, spices, honey and meat. Ingredients such as oats and meat were excluded from the recipe eventually. New ingredients such as flour, eggs and butter replaced meat and oats, paving way for the birth of the famous plum cakes, which are also known as plum puddings or fruit cakes.

Why the name Plum Cake when there is no Plum in them 

The term “plum cake” and “fruit cake” have become interchangeable. Dried fruit is used as a sweetening agent and any dried fruit used to be described as “plums”. Most plum cakes and plum puddings do not contain the plum fruit as we know today. The term “plum” originally referred to prunes, raisins or grapes.Thus the so-called plums from which English plum puddings are made “were always raisins, not the plump juicy fruits that the name suggests today.

In Old English, the term plūme was “from medieval Latin pruna, from Latin prunum,” which equated to “prune“. Prune in modern French means plum, so plum tarts have names such as tarte aux prunes. In English, prunes are dried plums, and when modern cakes use them as a primary ingredient, they may be referred to as a plum cake.

How did Plum cakes travel across the globe

Plum cakes moved out of England primarily due to colonization. English men working in colonies such as Australia, and the Americas, Canada and India received Christmas gifts and hampers from their families in England. Plum cakes were sent along with these hampers. The locals eventually began making these cakes in their households during the holiday season.

How did the cakes last long voyages in those days by ship and land

The cake is prepared by soaking the fruits and nuts in rum/ alcohol. Some soak it for weeks and months while others soak it longer. (Non alcoholic variants are also available) The cake containing good deal of alcohol remains edible for many years. For example, a fruit cake baked in 1878 is kept as an heirloom by a family (Morgan L. Ford) in Tecumseh, Michigan.

Here is some advice from a celebrity Chef on how to make the Plum Cake

Here is a menu from pastry Chef Ravi Varma at Taj Coromandel “Instead of mixing our fruit a few months in advance, we do it a whole year ahead, for maximum flavour,” says the chef. Imagine that. Don’t choose a metal container though or it might react with the alcohol and alter the flavour, advises the chef, “Drain the excess liquid or the cake will become sticky and don’t leave out the candied orange or lime peel in the mix, as that breaks the sweetness in flavour,” he advises.

Plum Cake (Makes 1.5 kg)

Ingredients: Fruits for Soaking
150 gms Raisins | 150gms Candied
Fruits | 150gms Currents
150 gms glazed cherries | 150 gms candied peel | 50 gms cinnamon powder | 50 gms ginger powder
120 ml vodka | 120 ml Brandy | 120 ml whiskey

Soak the fruits in alcohol, pack them in an air-tight container and leave them for a minimum of 15 days, for the fruits
to soak.

Ingredients: Cake
150 gms Butter | 220gms Sugar | 4 eggs
150 gms Flour | 50gms bread crumbs
1 apple | 50 gms apricot Jam | 800 gms soaked fruits | 50 ml Caramel colouring
10 gms ground spices (garam masala)

Cream butter and sugar
Add eggs one by one
Add caramel colour
Mix soaked fruits to it
Then fold all dry ingredients into the batter
Put the batter in a lined pudding mould, bake in double boiler at 150 °C
for 45 to 50 minutes.

Cakes from all over the World

While Plum Cake is very British there are many delicious Cakes made across the world during Christmas. 

Tres Leches cake

The Mexican sponge or butter cake is soaked in three types of milk—condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream—to give it a creamy and spongy texture. The cake is topped with whipped cream and berries and is refrigerated overnight so that the cake can soak up the milk mixture. It is also called the ‘three milk’ cake. Though it can last upto four days when refrigerated, it is best to consume it in 48 hours.

Tarta De Santiago – Spanish delicacy

This Spanish cake recipe comes from Galicia in Spain and literally it means Cake of St James. It is an almond cake consisting of ground almonds, sugar, eggs, sweet wine, lemon zest and brandy. The round cake’s top is sprinkled with powdered sugar with an imprint of the Cross of St James in the middle.

Makowiec from Poland 

Makowiec (pronounced: Mak-ov-yetz) is a strudel-like, yeast poppy seed cake that’s one of Poland’s most popular desserts. It’s main attraction is the filling spun inside, made of finely-ground poppy seeds, honey, butter, raisins and walnuts. When made right, the cake is absolutely delicious. It’s safe to say that many a poppy-seed cake lover would agree that the more the filling, the better

Turkish Revani

This Turkish cake recipe has been served in Turkey since the Ottoman period. Many Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean cultures have adopted the cake with some variations. It is widely served in homes and restaurants and is a single layer of soft and yellow semolina sponge cake covered in light syrup. The cake is made with flour, yoghurt, vanilla, lemon, sugar, vegetable oil, semolina, hazelnuts and so on, while the sugar and lemon syrup are added to the cake later

Stollen from Germany

Stollen is traditional German bread that is eaten during Christmas and is called Christsollen or Weihnachtsstollen. It is a fruit bread made of nuts, dry fruits, spices and powdered sugar. It was baked as Christmas bread for the first time in 1545 with flour, yeast, oil and water

Yule Log

This is a traditional Christmas cake served in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, Lebanon, Syria and some French colonies. A sponge cake is made to resemble an actual Yule Log, a form of sweet roulade. Its recipe flourished around the 19th century.

Italian Pandoro & Panettone 

Panettone is a Christmastime cake from Milan. The sweet, yeasty cake has a distinctive domed shape. Panettone is often compared to fruitcake because both are traditionally made with raisins and candied fruits. Pandoro is a Christmas cake that originated in Verona. True to its name (pan d’oro means “golden bread”), the cake has a bright yellow color. Pandoro is traditionally a star-shaped cake that is dusted with powdered sugar. In the medieval times, the sweet, golden bread was only served in palaces, while the common people could only afford the black bread

French Galette Des Rois

Also called King Cake, this French Christmas cake is usually made during the festival of Epiphany around Christmas. It started roughly 300 years ago as a dry French bread with sugar and bean, and is now made of a sweet brioche dough in a hollow circle shape sprinkled with coloured sugar and a glazed topping. In some countries, king cakes are made with a puff filled with fillings like almond, chocolate, pear or apple and have a feve, a small figurine hidden inside. The cake is named after the three biblical Kings or the three wise men.

Pan de Pascua from Chile 

Despite the fact that the name ‘Pan de Pascua’ means ‘Easter bread’, this cake is a traditional Christmas cake from Chile! It is made with the fusion of fruitcake batter and rum. If you ever visit Chile during the Christmas period, you will be served with a boozy holiday coffee called ‘Cola de Mono’ and ‘Pan de Pascua’ together as a meal!

Dundee Cake – Traditional Scottish Cake

Dundee Cake is a traditional Scottish fruit cake made with almonds, currants and sultanas and fruit peels. Its recipe started developing in Dundee (a coastal city on the Firth of Tay estuary in eastern Scotland) in the 1700s when it started to be mass produced by the marmalade company Keiller’s marmalade, said to be the originators of it. Dundee Cake is also said to be Queen Elizabeth’s favourite during tea time.

Mochi from Japan 

Mochi is a traditional Japanese cake that is made with rice paste. The rice paste is prepared by mixing rice flour with water and the mixture is cooked well till a paste-like consistency is found. The paste is later moulded into any desired shape and decorated with powdered sugar or chocolate flakes

Bolo Rei from Portugal 

This traditional cake from Portugal is very unique in its own way! It is shaped like a crown in reference to the story of the three kings called ‘bolo rei’. This cake is relished by the locals throughout the whole festive period starting from the Christmas to Dias de Reis on January 6.

The End 


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