Any place of worship – be it a temple, church, mosque or any other religious place – being worshipped for number of years, especially centuries has a special aura. Prayer, Meditation, Chanting, Devotion, Peace and many more things occupying the worship area – make it a special place. I experience Peace and Tranquility in a temple – one of the reasons being the religious stories that I have been fed with, since childhood. When I grew up, I was pulled towards the ancient past of the 1000 to 1500 year old temples of Tamilnadu and the history and literature of the Tamils behind those walls and the stone inscriptions of the historic past on the walls of the temples.
I experience the same unexplainable respect for the ancient past and people of the past when I enter a Church which depicts valuable stories of history. The architectural beauty of Cathedrals amazes me and I tend to travel to another world!
Though this post comes a couple of days after Christmas, I thought I could share a few photographs of some of the most beautiful and powerful religious monuments that we’ve visited in Europe. Capturing those magnificent architectural marvels in a camera everyone would agree, can never be satisfying.
pictures of koln cathedral
frankfurt dom or cathedral
cathedral de loussanne
st.denis bascilica, st.denis
St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
A few other christmas clicks that we relish…
christmas eve in brussels
santa at kaufhof shop, dusseldorf
Now, some culinary business for Christmas!
The best Fruit Cake or Plum cake I have ever tasted is the Thoothukudi Bakery Plum Cake. Thoothukudi, the original tamil name of the place, the Britishers changed to Tuticorin for their safe pronunciation. This is a port city in down south Tamilnadu. It holds a special place to me because of several reasons – 1. it is the place from where my mother comes from; 2. the place I started my schooling as a child; 3. After we shifted to Chennai, it was my only favourite holiday destination to spend the school annual vacations at grandparents’ place!
It is famous for Pearls – it is also called muthunagar or the pearl city and Salt Fields. Thoothukudi also holds a special place in Indian Freedom Struggle as the First Swadeshi Ship was launched here in British India in 1906 by V.O. Chidambaram Pillai.
Now, Thoothukudi is also famous for its Bakery Foods. Thoothukudi Macaroons are very famous- a little change – macaroons are famous – but not many people would know it comes from Thoothukudi/Tuticorin. I have enjoyed kilograms and kilograms of macaroons while young and even now, thaatha used to bring us from the bakery and additionally send for our friends in chennai to enjoy the true flavour of Thoothukudi. Beyond Macaroons, the most enjoyed bakery product used to be the Plum cake. So, when I wanted to bake a Christmas cake at least a bit similar to thoothukudi plum-cake, I searched the net. I found http://elitefoods.blogspot.com/2008/12/christmas-plum-cake.html where Viki, the author of the blog had additionally mentioned, the cake was similar to the plum-cake of thoothukudi. I tried it with some minor changes, keeping the basic structure intact. It was certainly a good fruit cake, but not as good as thoothukudi plum-cake as I had made those changes. Thanks Viki for the recipe!
As usual, I replaced all-purpose flour with wheat flour/gothumai maavu/atta. I used cooking oil instead of butter. I used fresh orange juice to soak candied fruits instead of rum or brandy. Since dates, raisins, candied fruits and caramelised sugar has been used, the quantity of sugar is reduced. As I had candied cherries and apples, I used them – candied plums, pears, prunes and apricots make the cake more ‘fruitful’.
the christmas cake
Christmas Fruit Cake
Ingredients (gives 2 medium size cakes)
- wheat flour – 1 1/2 cups
- sugar – 3/4 cup
- eggs – 3 no.s
- oil – 3/4 cup
- baking powder – 1 tsp
- baking soda – 1/4 tsp
- salt – 1/2 tsp
- vanilla extract – 1 tsp
- caramel syrup – 1/2 cup
to soak in 1 cup orange juice
- candied cherries -1/4 cup
- candied apples – 1/4 cup
- dates – 1/2 cup
- raisins – 1/2 cup
finely chopped dry fruits – 1 cup
- cashew nuts
- cloves – 3 no.s
- cinnamon twigs – 1/2 inch twig
- nutmeg powder – 1/4 tsp
- dry ginger powder – 1/4 tsp
- Take 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tbsp water in a utensil and let it boil in medium heat
- After a while, the syrup would start becoming brown in colour
- When it becomes darker, add 1/2 cup warm water and mix well
- Be careful while adding water to the very hot caramelised sugar, it might sprinkle and cause burns
- Caramel syrup is ready
soaked fruits into the batter
ready to be baked
Method of Preparation
- Soak candied fruits, raisins and chopped dates in orange juice for minimum 12 hours
- Finely chop dried nuts and keep aside
- Make fine powder of spices
- Take a wide bowl or a cake blender in a processor can be used
- Beat eggs, sugar and oil
- Add caramel syrup, spice mix and soaked fruits without the juice into the blender
- Add wheat flour, baking powder and baking soda and blend well
- Add salt and vanilla extract and mix well
- Add the left over orange juice if needed
- Mix the chopped nuts in 1 tsp flour so that nuts do not settle in the bottom of the mixture
- Preheat oven at 175 degree celsius
- Grease a baking tray and sprinkle some flour
- Pour the cake mixture into the tray and sprinkle chopped nuts
- Bake for 40 to 50 minutes and check with a tooth pick to see if done
- After nuts were sprinkled, I did not mix it. That is why, nuts remained on top and formed a nutty covering. If mixed a bit, nuts would have mixed well in the cake for a better nutty flavour throughout.
the last pieces left for the click..
Wishing you all Merry Christmas!!