The story of the first-ever Christmas cake baked in India, back in 1883


Christmas is around the corner. Everyone in India loves to celebrate Christmas. How do you celebrate Christmas? Probably your answer will be by exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending church, sharing meals with family and friends, and, of course, the classic waiting for Santa Claus to arrive. Nevertheless, how can we forget “the Christmas cake”? Now thinking of “the Christmas cake”, have you ever wondered that the simple Christmas cake might have an astounding story going back to 1883? 

The story goes- In November 1883, a bourgeois named Murdock Brown visited the Royal Biscuit manufactory in what’s currently the southern Indian state of Kerala and asked its owner Mambally Bapu if he would bake him a cake for Christmas.

Murdoch Brown who ran a colossal cinnamon plantation within the Malabar region of the coastal state (then a part of a princely state in British-ruled India), had brought a sample cake back from the kingdom. He explained to Mr. Bapu how it was originally made. Mr Bapu knew a way to bake bread and biscuits – which he learned at a biscuit manufacturing plant in Burma (present-day Myanmar) – however, he had never baked a cake. however, he set to allow it an attempt with Mr Brown’s suggestion. However, The experiment came with some improvisations.

Mr Bapu mixed the cake batter with a neighborhood brew product of cashew apple rather than the John Barleycorn Mr Brown had urged obtaining from the close French colony of Mahe.


The result of the improvisation was a unique plum cake created entirely from native ingredients. Once Mr Brown tried it, he was therefore proud of the results and fondly ordered a dozen a lot.


“Mambally Bapu, my great-grandfather, was a businessman in Burma, shipping milk, tea, and bread to British troops in Egypt. He returned to Thalassery in 1880 and soon established a bakery of his own,” said Prakash Mambally, owner of Mambally’s Royal Biscuit Factory. 


“Those days, yeast was not available for fermentation in British India. So Bapu experimented with the locally brewed liquor,” said Premnath Mambally, a descendant of Bapu who owns the Shantha Bakery in Thiruvananthapuram.


“The local liquor effectively fermented the dough and provided it with a unique taste.”


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