Or my cheat Boozy Christmas Cake
When my brother and I were little, my mom used to run a greeting card & gift store. Some of the most fun times were when she would let us sit in the store after school, pretending to help but actually making more of a mess of everything. We would go ballistic with the old-school price gun – pasting ridiculous prices on each others clothes or faces. The other used to be helping with the window display for festive season, specially Valentine’s Day, Diwali and Christmas. To begin the Christmas window, we would begin with multiple rolls cotton wool, making the snow, followed by the tree decorations, gifts and other hangings and buntings. It always looked so pretty and festive.
My memories of Christmas, growing up, are very specific. Beginning with the Christmas window displays. Visiting one or the other of my parents Christian friends and finding gifts placed for us under their trees. A book gifted every single year at Christmas from my beloved Pakhi mashi. Being allowed small portions of mulled wine, somewhere in my mid-teens. Visiting Pune and staying with friends for Christmas, attending mid-night Christmas Mass with them, sneaking away after to attend the annual Christmas Eve parties and waking up in time for tea, kulkuls and presents.
We went through a brief phase of putting up our own tree at home as well, but then we just got busy (read, lazy). We still have tons of invites every year for lunch and dinner on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and always come back with lots of delicious cake.
I have always loved traditional Christmas cake. I don’t mean like. I mean absolutely and unconditionally L.O.V.E. And because we have so many Christian friends, we always get to sample all their recipes and cakes. I’ve made the cake a few times, using recipes from my mom’s friends but I often get lazy. Not because it’s difficult, but because I was once told that it was all about the fruit-soaking (soaking dried fruit and peel in alcohol, usually rum). Some of them soak the dried fruits for about 3-4 months. Others soak them for a whole year, removing fruits for this year’s cake and soaking for next year at the same time. That brings in a whole new level of potency to the cake! But I can never remember to soak fruits in time and I refuse to do half measures.
So I discovered an amazing cheat! I make this boozy rum-n-raisin cake instead. It needs a minimum of 1 hour soak and maximum of whatever-you-like! It’s not a traditional Christmas cake, but it does the trick for me in a pinch. And raisins are always more easily available at home or the corner shop, at the last minute, rather than the mixed dry fruit and peel needed for a Christmas cake.
I found a few recipes online and adapted this version mostly from Epicurious and The Brown Eyed Baker‘s versions. I made it 2-3 years ago for the first time, on our wedding anniversary because AK loves raisins. I’m usually not a fan but, in this case, I always make an exception. In addition to the incredibly large amount of raisins in the cake, I also add in a whole lot of chocolate chips and chopped cashew nuts. What with the rum-soaked raisins and the generous dose of rum-butter syrup, the cake packs quite a boozy punch. It’s definitely not for the lighthearted.
The last time I made it was this past Christmas Eve but I just couldn’t post this until now – we left for an assignment to Jaipur on Christmas Day and have been caught up since. So here it is, belated as ever. I hope you had a Merry Christmas and that you’ll have a wonderful 2017 ahead – full of love, delicious food and adventure.
Here’s what I used for a 10 cup bundt pan:
1.5 cups raisins
1/2 cup dark rum
1/2 cup cold brew coffee (or brewed coffee, cooled to room temperature) – optional
1 cup dark chocolate chips
Generous handful chopped cashew nuts
Here’s how I made it:
- For the Cake:
- 1.5 cups raisins
- ½ cup dark rum
- ½ cup cold brew coffee (or brewed coffee, cooled to room temperature) - optional
- 2-1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1-1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temp
- 1-2/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
- 5 large eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips
- Generous handful chopped cashew nuts
- For the Rum Butter Syrup:
- ¾ cup unsalted butter
- 1-1/2 cups brown sugar
- Pinch salt
- ½ cup dark rum
- Stand Mixer (buy here)
- Bundt Pan (buy here)
- Silicon Spatula (buy here)
- Soak the raisins in the rum and coffee and let them sit for 1 hour or overnight.
- When ready to bake, turn on the oven to pre-heat at 180°C and set the rack in the middle.
- Prepare the bundt pan by brushing it well with melted butter and dusting with flour.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together until well combined.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the butter and sugar together and beat on high speed for 3-4 minutes, until pale and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, 2 at a time, and beat well between each addition. Add the vanilla extract along with the last egg and beat until well incorporated.
- Add the flour mixture in 2 batches, folding gently using a spatula just until no floury streaks remain. Do not over-mix.
- Add the drained raisins (reserve the liquid), chocolate chips and chopped cashew nuts and mix. If required, add a few tablespoons of the rum-coffee liquid to loosen the batter so that it's at dropping consistency.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared bundt pan, level and bake for about 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- While the cake is baking, make the Rum Butter Syrup.
- Cube the butter and place in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Set on medium heat allow the butter to melt.
- Add the sugar and whisk until it melts and mixes with the butter, making a thick, sticky, caramel-y mixture. Let it simmer for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Turn off the heat and add the rum as well as the reserved rum-coffee liquid and whisk well until combined. If you didn't use the coffee then you may not have any liquid left - in this case add ¼ cup of water along with the rum. Allow this to cool to room temperature.
- Once the cake is done, pull it out of the oven and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes. Using the back of a knife, loosen the cake from the pan and poke plenty of holes all over the surface using a skewer.
- Pour ⅓ of the syrup very slowly over the cake. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes before upturning onto a cake plate or cooling rack.
- Once it's been upturned, poke many more holes. Pour the rest of the syrup, slowly and by the spoonful until it has all been absorbed.
- Allow it to cool to room temperature before slicing and serving the cake.
- Store at room temperature in an airtight box for 7-10 days.
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