The Jamun (Syzygium cumini) is a brilliant purple fruit that leaves an equally purple hue on the tongue. Also known as Indian Java plum, Jamblam, Zambla etc, this is a seasonal fruit which usually makes it appearance during Indian summer months.
The ripe fruit is sweet and has a lingering acidic aftertaste which is not unpleasant. The wild varieties bear tinier fruit and the hybrid and cultivated ones are larger and juicier.
The seed forms a large part of the fruit and it is the skill of the teeth that ensures an optimal scraping off of the flesh, with minimal wastage.
The jamun also has medicinal benefits and the fruit and seed are said to be good for treating diabetes.
The jamun holds a special place in my life, being closely associated with my childhood memories. As a child, all my holidays were spent at my grandfather’s coffee estate in Chikmagalur, Karnataka. In the summer time we made the most of the fruits and berries that grew abundantly. A designated cousin would climb the jamun trees and break off a large branch which would come crashing to the ground. The rest of us would immediately swarm around it, plucking the ripe ones and eating fists full then and there. We did not even wash the fruit and nothing untoward ever happened to us 😀 That is the beauty of organic and natural produce.
Well, eating the fruit directly was the easiest way to go and it was only years later that I began using them in various other ways, including my famous Jamun wine.
Our estate was sold 5 years ago and that left me at the mercy of fruit vendors and online sellers to get my fix of jamuns.
And while I feel miserable paying Rs 200-250 a kg, for something I had never paid a single penny for all my life, I still indulge in it once in a way when I come across it in the season, though what we get here are the ‘farmed’ ones and not the tiny, hyper sweet wild fruit that we grew up eating.
This year I bought quite a lot online and and after eating them to my heart’s content till my eyes nearly turned purple :-D, I then decided to use up some in my bakes.
I found a cherry cake recipe by Joy of Baking and I adapted the recipe with a few changes which included whole grain flour since I try never to use refined flours in my cakes. I also added buttermilk, since I usually have an excess of it since I frequently churn out butter.
Recipe for Jamun cake –
Whole Wheat Flour (WWF) – 140gm
Almond flour – 50gm (See Notes)
Baking powder – 1.5 teaspoon
Salt – 1/2 teaspoon
Butter – 100gm
Organic Sugar – 120gm
Eggs – 2
Vanilla – 1 teaspoon
Buttermilk – 120gm or as needed (Recipe here)
Jamun slices – 100gm (See Notes)
Whole Jamuns – 10
Coarsely ground Almonds – 20gm
Sugar granules – 10gm
Sieve thrice the WWF, baking powder and salt. Mix in the almond flour and set aside.
Melt the butter. In a large bowl add the butter and sugar and whisk together. Whisk in the eggs. Add the vanilla and jamun slices and mix gently.
Add in the flour etc and mix gently until all the dry flour is incorporated.
Add enough buttermilk to make a batter of dropping consistency. The amount will vary as per the quality of your flour etc.
Preheat the oven to 180 deg c.
Pour the batter into a 6×6 square Aluminum tin which is greased with butter and lined with parchment paper.
Top the batter with the almond topping and sugar. Place the whole Jamuns on the surface.
Bake at 180 deg c for 30 minutes or until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Invert and place on a cooling rack.
After cooling completely, the cake should be refrigerated in an air tight box. It is advisable to consume this within a couple of days because of the fresh fruit.
Make sure to discard the seeds while eating.
Almond flour – I place almonds with skin in the freezer until they are really chill. Then I pulse them for hardly a few seconds in the mixer till I get coarse flour.
Jamun slices – Using a sharp knife, slice away the flesh of the jamuns, leaving only the seed behind. Try to do it without mashing the fruit.