To make this cake, the quality of rum and raisins including the marination process is taken into consideration. Molasses or treacle is added to impart the colour. Rich, dark with a moist texture and intense rum flavour, this cake is a delight to the taste buds. The term "plum cake" and "fruit cake" have become interchangeable. Plum cake contains only raisins often referred to as black cake unlike fruit cake that has a mixture of fruits and nuts. The secret to a good plum cake is using raisins well soaked in rum.
Why is it called a plum cake when there are no plums in it? Definition of plum in the Oxford English Dictionary is also known as dried raisins or grapes used in puddings, cakes and pies. Dried plums or prunes were popular in pies in medieval times, but gradually in the sixteenth and seventeenth century they were replaced by raisins. The dishes made with raisins and other fruits were referred to as plums, the name ‘'plum” that seems to have been retained to this day.
(Yields a 10" cake)
1 cup margarine or butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour or maida
3 cups raisins
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/4 teaspoon cloves powder
1/2 teaspoon rum extract
1/4 cup molasses
4 to 6 cups dark rum
In a glass bowl or bottle, soak raisins with rum for a couple of weeks or months. Cover securely.
Drain the fruits through a strainer reserving any leftover rum for future use.
Sift the flour and baking powder, combine with the raisins to prevent them from sinking during baking.
Grease and dust a 10" cake pan with flour.
Preheat oven to 300 F or 150 C.
Using an electric hand beater, cream the butter till light and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat well. Incorporate one egg at a time, followed by the spice powders, molasses and rum extract. With a spatula, fold in the flour mixture. Transfer mixture into the prepared cake pan.
Bake till a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, around 1 1/2 to 2 hours. (Baking time may vary depending on the size, type, brand of the oven.)
Cool cake in the pan before unmoulding.
To ice the cake:
Once the cake is cooled, heat two tablespoons of clear jam in the microwave. Strain jam if it contains pieces of fruit before use.
Brush a thin layer of jam on top and along the sides of the cake.
Roll out marzipan on a board dusted with icing sugar and cover the cake. Trim off any excess.
Dust the board with some more icing sugar and roll out packaged fondant to 1/2 cm thickness.
Brush the marzipan with cold boiled water to help the fondant stick.
Cover the cake with fondant, smooth and trim any excess.
Decorate the cake as desired.
- I have baked the cake in an egg-shaped cake pan.
- Raisins were soaked in Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum for 4 months. The plum cake was yum with rum.
- Marzipan used was around 500 grams with a little extra to spare. Click Marzipan for recipe.
- Packaged fondant used was around 500 grams.
- Calla Lily flowers, leaves, lettering and trim were made of fondant by my husband.
- Cutting a good plum cake is an art. Use a serrated knife and slice cake in a sawing motion. If cake crumbles, refrigerate as this will make it easier to cut. Let slices reach room temperature before serving.
- Molasses is a thick, dark brown syrup obtained from raw sugar during the refining process. If you cannot find molasses, substitute with caramel syrup made with sugar and water, cool and then add to the batter or it will crystallize. Ensure that the syrup is thick and not thin, which may affect the consistency of the batter.