Java plums, or jamun as we call it, takes me back to my classroom in 10th std. (it’s standard, not grade. Why do Indians call it ‘grade’? Unless they’ve changed it now). This was in Mangalore and it rained everyday during monsoons. I’d sit by the window and look out because day dreaming was a part of my own personal curriculum. There it was. A tall jamun tree studded with several bunches of the ripe plums. That’s it. That’s the image I have plastered in my mind of this fruit and what it reminds me of. A simpler time. A simpler place. I baked the cheesecake last evening and it rained this morning to make it all seem perfect. Last year I’d made cake with it and this time I wanted to use it in a cheesecake.
I was being all nostalgic chatting with my friends from school on a WhatsApp group recently. We spoke at length about school, monsoons, teachers, and of course food. I instantly went back to jamuns. One reason I loved the mostly tart, rarely sweet fruit is how it gave me a purple tainted tongue every single time I ate a handful of them. I thought I’d add these little fruits to my usual sponge batter to see what becomes of it. And it was delicious! To take it a little further, I made a jamun jam/coulis of sorts to top the cake with. I also added the juice of a lemon to give it a fresh and zingy taste.
Ingredients: Flour - 1 cup Butter - 1/2 cup Sugar - 3/4 cup Eggs - 2 Vanilla - 1 tsp Lemon juice - of one lemon Baking powder - 1.5 tsp Salt - a pinch (if you're using salted butter then skip adding salt) Jamun - 3/4 cup pitted (I scraped the fruit off the seeds) Topping: Jamun - 1/2 cup pitted (I scraped the fruit off the seeds) Sugar - 1 tbsp Honey - 1 tsp Butter - 1 tbsp
Method: Preheat oven at 180C while you prepare the batter. Beat butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs one at a time and mix well. Add the jamun, keeping a handful of pieces for later. Add flour with the baking powder. Fold the flour into the egg mixture just till it's incorporated well. Don't over mix. Pour batter into a loaf tin and stick a few pieces of the jamun on top. Bake for 40-45 mins or till it's golden brown on top. For the topping, cook together the ingredients mentioned with a splash of water. Cook it till the fruit softens and you can mash it with the back of a spoon. Let both the cake and topping cool down. Once they do, slather the cake with the jamun topping and serve.