Burnt Sugar Fruitcake With Whiskey Glaze From Surbhi Sahni

March  8, 2023
0 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 5 hours 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 50 minutes
  • makes 1 9-inch-round cake
Author Notes

Indian fruitcake is a traditional rum-soaked specialty that's part of Anglo-Indian cuisine—a convergence of colonial British and South Asian cuisines. Indian fruitcake (or plum cake as it's sometimes called) has been embraced by South Asians and unlike its Western predecessor, it’s eaten year-round.

This recipe pairs decadent ingredients that only get better with time: dark liquor, fatty nuts, and dried fruit with layers of sun-ripened sweetness encased in their jewel toned skins. It’s rich without being dense thanks to fluffy egg whites and extra gentle mixing.
Soaking dried nuts and fruit in a rum-whiskey bath for up to 3 months beforehand gives the cake a sticky boozy sweetness akin to rum cake. If you want to enjoy it sooner, 2 weeks is plenty of time for the nuts and fruit to absorb the warming spiced notes of the liquor.

In India, it’s customary for fruitcake preparation to be a communal event, and extra rum turns it into a real party. Grab a few friends, sip little rum-filled glasses, and get to baking! The burnt sugar and whiskey glaze can be made a few days in advance to lessen your prep time. Refrigerate this cake for up to 3 months after baking, if there are any leftovers. It’s the perfect treat when you want to resurrect the festive spirit of the holiday season during the doldrums of winter. —Surbhi Sahni


What You'll Need
  • For the rum-soaked nuts:
  • 1 cup raw cashews, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup roasted almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup dark raisins
  • 1 ½ cups whiskey
  • 1 ½ cups dark rum
  • For the burnt sugar:
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons (250 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons (250 grams) granulated sugar
  • For the cake:
  • Neutral oil or nonstick cooking spray, for greasing pan
  • 141 grams (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (225 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (106 grams) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup burnt sugar
  • 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons (375 grams) all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala, homemade or store bought (I love Diaspora Co.’s blend)
  • 2 large eggs, kept whole
  • 2 large eggs, yolks separated from whites
  • 3 cups rum-soaked nuts
  • 2 tablespoons reserved alcohol from soaked nuts
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • For the rum syrup:
  • 2/3 cup reserved alcohol from soaked nuts
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar
  1. Make the rum soaked nuts: Combine nuts, raisins, whiskey, and rum in a container with an airtight lid. Nuts and fruit should be fully submerged in the alcohol, so add more if needed to cover them. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 weeks but up to 3 months before using.
  2. Make the burnt sugar: Add sugar to a medium dry saucepan over medium heat. Shake the pan to evenly distribute the sugar granules. Cook, stirring frequently, until sugar bubbles,caramelizes, and turns very dark in color, 6 to 8 minutes (sugar may clump a bit but it will all melt toward the end). Remove from heat and carefully whisk in water (it will bubble and steam a lot, so use caution!). Return to medium heat and simmer sugar until all the granules melt, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl; set aside to cool at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours, or refrigerate for up to 2 days.
  3. Make the cake: Heat the oven to 350°F. Grease the bottom of a 9-inch-round cake pan with neutral oil or non-stick cooking spray, then line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Strain rum soaked nuts through a fine-mesh sieve (reserving alcohol), and place nuts in a mixing bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of reserved alcohol and set aside. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add both sugars. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Stop the mixer to scrape down the sides as needed. Meanwhile, sift all but ⅓ cup flour, salt, baking powder, ginger, and garam masala twice into a large mixing bowl. Sift remaining flour into a separate bowl. Add 2 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks to butter-sugar mixture and mix on medium speed until well combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Add burnt sugar and mix to combine, about 1 minute. Slowly add dry ingredients, orange juice, and reserved 2 tablespoons of alcohol alternately to batter, beginning and ending with dry mixture, until batter is smooth and well incorporated. Do not overmix. Stir remaining flour into the strained nuts and toss until flour has evenly coated the nuts. Gently fold coated nuts into the batter until just combined. Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk the 2 egg whites vigorously until firm peaks hold. Remove from the stand mixer. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold into the cake batter, stirring just until no white streaks remain.
  4. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake 45 minutes, then loosely tent the cake with aluminum foil. Reduce the oven to 325°F. Bake until deep golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50 to 70 minutes more.
  5. Make the rum syrup: Place ⅔ cup of reserved alcohol, orange juice, and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. As soon as the cake is removed from the oven, brush the top with a little more than half the syrup. Let cool for 15 minutes, then use a butter knife to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Remove from the baking dish and transfer to a piece of parchment paper. Brush the sides of the cake with half the remaining syrup, then let the cake cool completely. Serve at room temperature and drizzle slices with any additional syrup. To store, wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

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