I will be the first to admit that I am not much of a baker but this delicious dessert is totally worth the effort. A good friend made this lovely cake a while back and it was absolutely heavenly. It’s filled with dried fruits and nuts but tastes nothing like the traditional holiday fruitcake that most of you may be familiar with – this is just plain pure goodness. So I have taken her basic recipe and as usual, added my Indian twist to it. I served it at an afternoon tea recently & received her stamp of approval along with everyone else’s – so there may be hope for me yet when it comes to baking!
This cake is so versatile, feel free to use your favorite combination of dried fruits & nuts such as dried apricots, dried cherries, dried cranberries, dried mango, raisins, golden raisins, currants, craisins, dried figs, dates, almonds, cashews, pecans, hazelnuts, pistachios, walnuts… just don’t use the candied variety.
INDIAN DRIED FRUIT & NUT CAKE
3 cups cake flour (you can use all purpose flour)
2 cups of assorted dried fruits & nuts, chopped into small pieces
1½ cups apple juice (you can try different fruit juices)
1 cup milk
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp orange zest
1 tsp ground cinnamon powder
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground allspice
1 tsp good quality chai masala powder (optional)
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp vanilla extract (or almond extract)
½ cup butter
confectioners' sugar (aka powdered sugar or icing sugar)
You will need a 13x9x2 inch baking pan or oven safe glass dish.
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Using either cooking spray or butter, grease the baking dish on all sides. Set aside until needed.
In a small saucepan on medium low heat, combine the chopped pieces of dried fruit along with the apple juice. Gently simmer until the dried fruit has absorbed some of the apple juice & plumped up. Allow the mixture to cool, drain well and reserve the cooking liquid. Set aside until needed.
Using either a stand mixer or a hand held beater, cream the sugar & butter together. Now add the spices: ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground allspice, chai masala, freshly grated nutmeg and salt. Mix on medium speed for just a minute before slowing adding the flour. Mix well & then add in all of the wet ingredients in small increments. First, add the milk and the beaten eggs. Then add the vanilla extract, orange zest & baking soda. Lastly, add about 2/3 cup of reserved cooking liquid along with the dried fruits & nuts. Carefully pour the cake batter into a well-greased baking dish. Bake the cake at 350° F for about 35 to 40 minutes or until done in the center (you can check by using a toothpick). Let the cake cool on a wire baking rack before serving. Garnish with a light dusting of confectioners sugar just before serving.