Old Fashioned Christmas Plump Cake and Cottage Sauce

Plump cake with cottage pudding was pretty much tradition when I was a child growing up and a treat I looked forward to.  I’m not big on fruit cake, at least those you buy at your local grocery store.  They are inclined to be very dry, feel like sawdust in your mouth and have a stale taste.  I’ve only found a couple brands that will actually pass as a holiday fruit cake and prefer to make my own.  I have two that I really like; an uncooked fruit cake that is more like a cookie or a candy and real old fashioned Plump Cake.

Plump Cake is a “Christmas Cake” that comes from as far back or even farther back than the Middle Ages.  It similar to today’s fruit cake but a whole lot better.  This delicious fruit and spice cake is a wonderful holiday treat served in small pieces (It is very rich) plain, just to nibble on, warm or cold and as a dessert with a dab of whipped cream or cottage pudding for garnish.  It is called “plump cake” because it is a heavier cake, plump with fruits and spices and it keeps well and is even more flavorful after it has had three days to a week to allow the flavors to meld and season.  Once your baked cake it thoroughly cooled to room temperature, wrap it and store in a cool, dry place for about a week.  You can serve it immediately and it will be very good but it is much more flavorful once it has had a few days to season. 

You will want to plan ahead when making this cake because unlike regular cakes that take about an hour to make start to finish, this will take you most of the day but it is so worth the effort when it comes to serving up a special, really old fashioned Christmas or New Year’s holiday treat.  This cake is very rich in flavor and goodness.  It is wonderful served with holiday punch, tea or eggnog and the aroma while it is baking is heavenly.  That spicy, fruity fragrance just shouts happy holiday; Merry Christmas, Happy New Year or any other happy holiday of the season you may be enjoying.  It is wonderfully delicious. 

To make this wonderful “CHRISTMAS PLUMP CAKE” you will need to do the following:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Combine together

1 large apple cored and chopped (Do not peel)

1 cup raisins (seedless)

1/2 cup chopped dates

1/2 cup dried apricots chopped

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup candied citrus peel

1/4 cup candied ginger chopped

1/4 cup chopped walnuts or butternuts

1/4 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup slivered almonds

Cover and soak fruit in 2 cups boiling water for 2 to 3 hour

Drain, retaining 3/4 cup of the excess water to use later

add enough more water to make 3/4 cup water if needed

Add to water

4 ounces good brandy (or 2 tsp. brandy flavoring)

2 tsp. orange zest

The juice of one med. Orange

Zest of one lemon

2 tsp. lemon juice

Zest of one lime

2 tsp. lime juice

In a large mixing bowl cream together

1 1/2 cups butter (Not margarine)

6 large eggs beaten to lemony

 3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar (I use the light brown)

1/4 cup wheat germ

2 Tbsp. honey

Add water mixture

Sift together and mix well

3 cups plus 2 rounded Tbsp. flour

1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground cardamom

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. all spice

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp. ground clove

Mix until well blended and then stir in fruit and nut mixture.  To bake prepare tube pan or deep spring pan by lining with parchment.  Cut circle for bottom and a strip

to go around the side of the pan.  Spread cake mixture evenly in the pan and tap to

settle and clear any air spaces (Or if you want to make individual mini cakes line cupcake or muffin tins with cupcake liners.)  You can fill your cake pan or muffin tins almost to the top.  Cover with parchment or aluminum foil with shiny side up to retain the cakes moisture.   Bake 30 min. at 325 degrees and then reduce heat to 275 degrees and bake slowly for about 4 1/2 to 5 hours or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  For the cupcake size bake 10 min at 325 degrees and then another 45 min to 1 hour at 275 degrees.  Remove from oven and allow cooling to room temperature.  Remove from pan and wrap in waxed paper and plastic wrap or aluminum foil for best keeping.  Store in a cool, dry place like to bottom drawer of your refrigerator.  Slice and serve.  To serve warm, cut 1 inch slices and place in steamer just long enough to warm through.  My grandmother and my mother used to serve this warm with cottage sauce made with vinegar and corn starch over the top of it.  It was delicious and a treat we often had on New Year’s Eve or for dessert New Year’s Day to use up any leftover Plump Cake from Christmas.  You know the saying, “waste not, want not,” and nobody lets Plump Cake go to waste.

This is a very expensive cake to make, thus why it is commonly made only once a year perhaps and you don’t waste it.  Today the prices of the fruit and spices are astronomical but the pleasure of this treat is well worth it and the little mini size cakes make tongue tantalizing gifts most everyone will enjoy. 

To make COTTAGE SAUCE (also called Poor Man’s Pudding) Combine in sauce pan over medium heat 2 cups water, 2 Tbsp. butter (not margarine) 1 1/2 cups sugar,

3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar, and 1/4 cup apple, orange or lemon juice; bring to boil and stir until sugar is completely dissolved.  Reduce heat to medium-low. Dissolve 2 rounded Tbsp. corn starch in just enough cold water to dissolve (about 3-4 Tbsp. water) and stir into sugar mixture stirring constantly until starts to thicken.  Use whisk to prevent lumping.  Remove from heat and serve over sliced Plump Cake.  For variety in flavor you can also stir in 1 tsp. vanilla extract in place of the fruit juice or use other fruit juices and add a twist of lemon, lime or orange to garnish.  This Poor Man’s Pudding or Cottage Sauce is also very good made with the orange juice and once removed from the heat and cooled slightly fold in fresh orange slices and serve over pound cake.  There are so many ways you can use this sauce but over Plump Cake is the very best.