A December stroll down Gover Road, in Bangalore, is a treat for the senses. 100-year-old trees sway in the winter breeze, and the air is filled with the faint aroma of plum cakes. You know Christmas is around the corner when Thomsons Bakery starts prepping its much-loved plum cake. The bakery first fired up its wood oven in 1962, baking bread for the Indian Army, Air Force and ITI. Since then, the wood-fired oven has stayed, but the main draw of this family-run bakery turned to plum cake, and with good reason. Every year, 5,000 to 6,000 kilograms of plum cake are baked, packed and carried to homes all over the world; an edible souvenir of the singular experience that is a Bangalore Christmas.
Founded by the late CI Thomas and his wife Ammini, the bakery is now run primarily by his son Abraham CT, who remembers helping his parents at the bakery since he was a little boy. During the holiday season as volumes peak, Abraham's brother George comes down from Singapore to help manage production. The bakery moves at frenetic pace, hiring a few extra hands in December to help with plum cakes and kalkals, the other festive favourite.
Their plum cakes are made using a traditional English recipe. "If you look it up online, you'll find it," Abraham says, modestly. However, the ingredients make all the difference. "We use the best quality ingredients, no matter how expensive they are." Like all good plum cakes, the fruits that go into the cake are soaked months in advance, in a potent mixture of spices and alcohol. "We soak it for three months, but if you can manage six, that's even better," he laughs.
At Thomsons Bakery however, it would seem that three months is plenty to lend their cakes the warm, rich flavour that generations of Bangaloreans have come to know and love.
Getting there: Thomsons Bakery, No. 18/2, M M Road, Cox Town, Bengaluru 560032. Next to St. Peter's Church. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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