Christmas Fruit cake / Kerala Plum cake (alcohol free) / Instant fruit cake

Fruit cake is rich with all the raisins,nuts and spices that go into it,something special to plunge into at this time of the year that reminds you of home, food and of course the bakeries too:)

Kerala has no snow but for Christmas the bakeries do shovel in loads of  cake all covered in white hard icing with roses on it .The glass cases do look like lot of snow with some blooms on it.Over time more sophisticated less decorated or no icing  plum cakes started coming in red boxes arranged neatly in pyramids. A traditional Christmas cake of Kerala comes as a big surprise to the rest of the world !!And I am in turn  surprised to find fruit cakes in this part of the world literally covered in dry fruits and cake is namesake as if  just to glue everything together!!!

As a little girl I wanted a new huge star every year to be hung at the entrance of our house (a luxury only the tropical climate can enjoy !!sorry others, huge paper stars don’t withstand real snow!! )
I always picked  the white star..but had a hard time deciding which cake to buy .All the decorations Oh!!! Now I wonder how I ate all those crisp sometimes really hard roses.I was contented only when I saw the wooden base the cakes came on, ignoring all the weird look on my mom’s face:).Though every year we received homemade delicious cakes I must admit I used to get carried away by the  most number of roses…..Okay let me brush those feelings and memories aside and bring in the holiday spirit.
Here is an ideal homemade gift you can make for a strict teetotaler!!

Christmas time is plum cake time for me and I  am sure it is the same with u  too…The craze for hard icing flowers is long gone but the fondness for the cake still remains.

Few days back I wanted to have fruit cake ,I asked myself ,”When do you want to have ? ” and the little devil in me said now! right now !!!

You know me ,I just had to make it ! I was restless until I took the first bite of fruit cake.So if you are like me then this cake is for you because it is ready in a matter of 1 hour! ya, you read it correctly .Coool right!!

Highlight of the cake is raisins and dry fruits need not be soaked for weeks for the soft texture and it is alcohol free .
This yummy fruit cake does not need any  planning so you can make it instantly whenever your heart desires !!


All purpose flour- 1 1/4 cup
Butter -1/2 cup (1 stick) (at room temperature)
Eggs- 3 If large then 2
Baking powder-1/2 tsp
Sugar – 1 cup + 3 tsp
Raisins-1 cup (black raisin,white raisin and few candied cherry cut into pieces)
Orange peel candied / Orange rind-4 to 5 pieces chopped finely ( click on orange to see recipe)
Cashew nuts- 1/2 cup (broken into pieces)
Spice powder-optional(cloves -1-2 ,   cinnamon-1 small stick ,  dry ginger- a very small,tiny piece,cardamom -1,nutmeg- a small pinch make a powder of all this)
Vanilla essence-1 tsp
Boiling water-1/2 -1 cup  (If the raisins are really dry it will absorb more water so add water accordingly)


1.Caramelize sugar.Take an old pan 🙂 Heat it and put three tsps of sugar ( plus a little more depending on the color u want) in the center of the pan. Reduce flame to medium low  .Do not touch the pan or stir the sugar.Keep a close eye and you will see that the sugar is melting when all the sugar has completely melted (not even one speck of white sugar o.k:)) pour the boiling water into it and switch off flame.See notes.Mix the sugar and water well bring it back to boil and put the nuts and raisins only in this.let it cook in this for 5 minutes on low flame or until they are tender .Let it cool down. (The idea is to cook the dry fruits gently cooked until just soft and be left with few tsps of caramelized water to color the cake )

2.Keep 3 tbsp of flour aside and in the rest of the flour mix the baking powder and spice powder (if you are adding)

3.Beat the butter and sugar till fluffy then add eggs one by one and beat well.Add vanilla essence too.Now slowly fold in the flour mixture to it without mixing too much. Pour the caramelized sugar water to get the brownish color.

4.To the soaked raisins and nuts add the 3 tbsp flour we had kept aside and mix well and the orange peel and cherry.This dusting is done to save the fruits and nuts from sinking to the bottom of the cake while baking.5.Add it to the cake mixture and fold gently.Pour the batter into the greased baking pan and level the top.

6.Bake in a preheated oven at 350 ° F for about 45 to 55 minutes.Until the toothpick /skewer comes out clean.The cake top is dark brown in color .Slice it only when completely cool ,don’t take chance as it will crumble!

Enjoy with a nice glass of Homemade wine.(click on wine to see easy version)


  • While caramelizing sugar do not disturb it  because it will stick to the pan which is very difficult to remove ,if it is left undisturbed it will not stick !! I know we all have a tendency to stir it while melting!!! But don’t let it burn and blame me 🙂
  • Pour only boiling water so it won’t splutter (mind you caramelized sugar is very hot and it can cause serious burns if you pour tap water)
  • This cake has lot of moist ingredients going into it so if you feel that the cake batter is too watery add a  tbsp of  flour to the batter to adjust .Otherwise the center of the cake will sink and it is difficult to cook.
  • You can add tooti fruiti,dates or other dry fruits of ur choice but make sure the total of all dry fruits together should not be more than 1and 1/2 cups.
  • Add shajeera/caraway seeds- a pinch while making spice powder if u like.
  • If you have noticed, we are  slightly cooking the raisins and nuts in the caramel water.It is done to get the effect of soaking in rum for weeks .You will notice the difference when you bite into the cake because you won’t chew any raw nuts Oh ya ! it avoids crumbling while slicing the cake too.
  • I like baking in the loaf pan because I feel there is only one slicing per piece .
  • Once cool keep it closed, the cake becomes hard as it sits .

Hope you like this version of no soaking,alcohol free fruit cake!! and it comes in handy for the last minute bakers too!!!

Check out Homemade grape wine recipe if you like the quick and easy wine.(fermentation only 14 days!!)

Do write back to me.


29 Replies to “Christmas Fruit cake / Kerala Plum cake (alcohol free) / Instant fruit cake”

  1. Meena Kumar

    Hi Colleen,
    Thanks a lot.I use the same standard measuring cup for wet and dry ingredients in this recipe.Weight differs for each one.

    1 cup all purpose flour =125 gms (approx)
    1 cup sugar = 200 gms
    1/2 cup butter = 115 gms

    Hope this helps.Do let me know how this cake turned out.

    Thanks for stopping by,


  2. Sona - Quick Picks

    hi Meena, first time here,a nd glad that i did. and this..this one recipe. its a super keeper, esp for us here in kuwait, we do not get alcohol legally. bookmarked. happily following you, do drop by my space as well when u get the time.

  3. Ammu

    Hi Meena,

    I had typed a comment earlier but is not sure whether it got lost or is awaiting moderation. So here I am again! I really was excited to see this recipe since i am unplanned baker who just follows her whim! And whats more exciting than a caramel fruit cake with no alcohol & weeks of soaking 😉 But my thick head couldn't follow your initial instructions about the caramel solution. The caramel itself turned out perfect, thanks to your strict instructions. But by the time my fruits got soaked, there was barely any solution left. So my batter was super thick, far from runny. Where did i go wrong? I had 1 mixed cup of tutti fruity, balck raisins, dates and cranberries plus 1/2 cup of nuts. Anyway, I added a little bit of orange juice to make the batter less dry and spreadable. Its still in the oven so I can't coment on the outcome. But please reply so I shall know what steps I read wrong.

  4. Meena Kumar

    Hi Ambika,
    I see so much of myself in u 🙂 Since we are pouring boiling water only if the caramel solution dried up we can add lil bit more. Orange juice is the best option. If the egg is small or old then sometimes the moisture content we are looking for may not be attained. Other reason could be A P flour varies sometimes it absorbs a lot of water. Baking this cake is just a matter of trial and error. If the cake has turned out to be hard prick some holes with a skewer on top and sprinkle 2 tbsp orso of the orange juice u have and leave it for a few hours to absorb. Make sure to consume fast. The cake becomes really hard as it sits so traditionally these fruit cakes are sprinkled with rum every few days to keep it moist and preserved for long periods.Hope this helps u dear. I am so glad u took the time to write back to me and yes I got all ur comments they were in the moderation section.Sorry for the late reply, was help up with some work. Do let me know how it turned out finally.

  5. Ammu

    Thanks so much for your helpful tips. And my apologies for the multiple comments. The cake turned out soft surprisingly and tastes great though its a little dry and crumbly. I used only 2 eggs (since its the 'extra large' ones as sold in the US) I am definitely going to bake it again with 3 eggs. I have tried a few other recipes from your blog and they all turned out well. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  6. Meena Kumar

    Awesome Ambika I like to call u Ammu 🙂 I am so glad to hear that it turned out well 🙂 Do send me pics of recipes u tried from here at elephantsncoconuttrees(at)gmail(dot)com. I am planning to start a testimonial column.
    Oh no apologies for comments Ammukutty 🙂 they make me happy.

  7. Simply Aarkay

    Hey Meena!! I am basically from Mangalore (now settled in US). I just happened to come across this site(this page in particular). I have grown up savoring one of the best plum cakes in Mangalore. I am a novice when it comes to baking. But when I read the recipe and directions for plum cake on this page, I was bent on giving it a try. And it did turn out well!! Only change I did was that I had soaked the nuts n dry fruits in a cup of orange juice for a day. I kept this refrigerated throughout the soaking period. I exactly followed all the other directions in your recipe. We all loved the cake. And I am going to make it again whenever I wish 🙂
    Thank You 🙂

  8. Meena Kumar

    Hi Aarkay,
    I am so delighted to know that u went ahead and tried the recipe. Food connects us to our roots more than one can imagine. I can totally relate to that feeling of joy when u make something u have had many years ago.
    Regarding the cooking of dryfruits its done to speed up the softening process thats all, soaking in orange juice overnight is perfectly fine.
    Thank you so much for the feedback.

  9. Unknown

    Hi. I think you need to redo cake with the exact instructions for the caramel (3 teaspoon (tsp) and 1/2 cup boiled water). I am the second reviewer to tell you that by the time i added the 1 cup worth of dried fruits and 1/2 cup nuts, there was barely any caramel left. Actually there was barely none. So since some caramel water was needed for the color of the cake, I found myself 2 another caramel syrup with 2 tbsp
    sugar to which i added about 6-8 tbsp more boiling water. Cake is now in oven. I will let you know how it turns out. However, it would be nice if you checked recipe instructions and revised accordingly. Thanks. Regine

  10. Meena Kumar

    Hi Regine,
    These are some of the oldest posts,the recipe was passed down by our family friends and most of it is eyeballing measurements.U are right its high time I redid it hoping to do some step by step pics too this year. I have made some corrections to measures meanwhile. Anyway praying ur cake turns out fine.Do let me know.

  11. Unknown

    Thanks so much. Cake looks good but i want to wait one day before cutting it since that type od cake tends to be better a day or so later. But I may need to redo regardless because my oven temperature is acting funny. Should be 350 but my little gadget inside says 250 so cake has been in oven for a longer time. I am having someone come check oven in a few days. LOL. i may have to buy a new one. But i will tell you how it turns out and looking forward to you making cake again and possibly editing recipe. Thanks so much.

  12. joys10

    Hi Aarkay..did you add in the orange juice soon as you took the cooked and caramelized fruits off the stove or did you wait for it to cool and then…I look forward to trying this out soon..

  13. smoky Kitchen

    Hi Meena,
    This looks as a wonderful recipe. I was craving for plum caked as its Christmas but kept delaying because of the previous failures. I am going to try this and keeping fingers crossed. Will let you know once it is done.

  14. Meena Kumar

    Plum cake dries out fast so once it reaches room temperature its best to store in airtight container. Since there is no alcohol or other preservative it should be good for up to a week or so.
    Thank you for stopping by Mary.

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