Recipe: Christmas Plum Cake (Eggless & Steamed)

‘Tis the season to eat plums in India, and they are delicious. Fruit and vegetables are seasonal here, unlike in England where you can get the majority of things throughout the year. Eating seasonal is great, it’s something to look forward to and fruit and vegetables always taste better during their season. Plum pudding (otherwise known as Christmas pudding) is a traditional Christmas dish served in Britain, usually aged for months, soaked in alcohol and lit, creating a blue flame.

In India, Christmas and plum cake go hand in hand, an idea the British left behind. The local supermarkets and bakeries stock up on plum cake for the Christmas season. British plum pudding doesn’t actually contain plums, it’s full of raisins (Victorian’s used to call raisins “plums”) but as Christmas season ’tis the season to eat plums in India…

My friend here in Nagpur said when she was a child, Christmas was exciting, even though her family did not celebrate. Someone would also bring cake into school, you just had to find out who it was. As about a third of India is lacto-vegetarian and an oven is a rare occurrence in an Indian kitchen, I thought I would make a very quick and simple, steamed, spongy, eggless upside-down plum cake, using very common ingredients.

Here is a cake everyone can enjoy (without having to track down someone who celebrates Christmas)!


You will need:

  • 1 cup butter + 1 tablespoon of melted butter to grease the tin
  • 1 cup sugar + a little to sprinkle on the plums
  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour (maida)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 mashed banana
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3-4 plums
  • optional: 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon


  1. Soften the butter and cream with the sugar
  2. Add the mashed banana, sieved flour, baking powder, cinnamon and milk and stir until fluffy
  3. Make a Christmas wish whilst stirring (essential for any Christmas cake)
  4. Melt the tablespoon of butter and spread on the base of your tin (I use a steel masala dabba) and sprinkle some sugar
  5. Arrange chopped plums and sprinkle some more sugar on top before adding your cake mixture 
  6. Place your cake tin in a large pot and fill the pot with water until it reaches half way up the tin
  7. Cover the pot 90% and leave on medium flame to steam
  8. Top up the water if required and steam for about 1 hour
  9. Poke the cake in the middle with a knife, if the knife stays dry, your Christmas plum cake is ready
  10. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and turn your cake onto a plate
  11. Serve warm with ice cream


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