Dark and spicy Christmas Pudding Cake marries updated holiday fruit cake to carrot cake frosting.
This is not your mother’s fruit cake! Baked in a ring, and coated with cream cheese frosting, my Christmas Pudding Cake has a festive “snowy wreath” look. I call this Christmas Pudding Cake because it contains pureed ‘fresh pack’ plums à la English steamed plum pudding. I first created the recipe for a magazine article on quick breads. My weekly visits to the health food store led me to update and revive it now because the bulk bins there offer such a wide selection of natural dried fruit like sour cherries and currants, along with low-sugar candied pineapple and papaya that aren’t overly sweet. The diced fruit gets an overnight soak in a small amount of Grand Marnier — French orange brandy — which plumps it up and adds a wonderful undertone. Alcohol in the brandy evaporates as the cake bakes.
The mix of dried fruit includes white and dark raisins, cherries, currants, papaya and pineapple which all take on an orangey flavor during maceration.
Pineapple and papaya bin labels were helpful to know I wasn’t getting any awful old-fashioned sticky dried fruit. And there’s nothing green in here.
A 5-ounce bag of fresh-pack plums (plums are prunes) should yield the 1/2 cup of puree needed to help moisten the cake. These are also available at the health food store.
When mixing the dry ingredients and macerated fruit into the batter, the flour goes in first with the fruit over it. They get stirred together very slowly.
A dark batter gets its mahogany color from the combination of brown sugar and molasses. The best way to even it out in the pan it to put several cloth towels on the counter and then thump the pan down several times on the towels to even out the batter, as I explain in the recipe. That way the cake will sit flat when unmolded.
The cake keeps well for several days, which can come in handy during the holidays when family and friends are in and out.
(Photos: Lisa Deyo)
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