A deliciously moist and healthy Christmas Cake. There is no need to add honey or sugar to this recipe, as the dried fruit is full of natural sugars. I've used chia seeds to add healthy fats, protein and fibre to the cake, chia also helps keep your blood sugars balanced. The addition of hazelnut meal gives a lovely sweet, nutty and rich full flavour. You can also use this recipe as a pudding, just reduce the cooking time by 10-15 minutes. There is nothing more rewarding than placing your own homemade cake in the centre of your Christmas Table.
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Add the orange zest, orange juice and chia seeds to a large bowl. Mix well to moisten the seeds.
Add the dried fruits, filtered water, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger and allspice to the chia mixture and mix well. Allow to sit for 15 - 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 150c (fan-forced). Line the base and sides of a 20cm round spring-form cake tin.
Add the lightly whisked eggs to the bowl and stir them through the fruit and chia mixture. Pour in the melted coconut oil that has slightly cooled (you don't want to cook the eggs), and mix well.
Add the baking soda and salt to the bowl and stir through. Add the almond and hazelnut meals and slivered almonds. Stir to combine the mixture well.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and spread out evenly.
Bake for 1 hour and 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Turn twice during cooking for even colour (if you find the top is over-browning you can place a loose sheet of foil or baking paper on top).
Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 30 minutes, then release the sides and let the cake completely cool. You can bake the cake up to 8 weeks prior to Christmas, stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
Serve on a plate or cake stand and decorate with some Christmas trimmings.
Note: I like to make individual plum puddings from this recipe. Line or grease a large muffin tray, fill and press the mixture into the cups. Bake for approximately 45 minutes. Store as above, also suitable to freeze for up to 6 months. Serve with this delicious Caramel Sauce.
The orange is a fruit from the citrus family. Orange zest is the finely grated skin from the outside of the orange but doesn't include the white pith which is bitter. The skin contains the orange oil which gives a stronger flavour when added to cooking. Use organic and locally grown if possible, scrub orange skin before using.
The orange is a fruit from the citrus family. The most common varieties are - Valencia, Navel and Blood oranges. Oranges are commonly peeled and eaten fresh or squeezed for juice. Oranges are full of nutrients, they promote clear healthy skin and have a whopping 170 different phytochemicals and more than 60 flavonoids - giving anti-inflammatory properties and strong antioxidant effects.
These little seeds absorb 9-12 times their weight in water and are excellent to add as a thickener to sauces and fruit spreads. They can also be used as an egg replacement in muffins and cakes (1 tablespoon chia seeds mixed with 3 tablespoons of water). Chia seeds can also be used to make delicious chia puddings for breakfast or desserts. There are many health benefits of chia. It is the richest plant source of Omega 3 fats, dietary fibre and protein. Chia seeds are also packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, amino acids and fatty acids.
Dried apricots are an excellent source of vitamin A, a good source of vitamin C, copper, dietary fibre and potassium. Choose organic dried apricots that have been dried naturally without preservatives (sulphur free). The colour will be darker, as sulphur dioxide (E220) has not been used to preserve the colour. My favourite brand is Fruit Bliss, the apricots are infused with water and keep lovely and juicy.
I use Medjool dates in my recipes, I like the flavour and softness of these dates. A bonus, there are no preservatives used with these dates. They blend easy when adding to recipes and give a slight caramel flavour.
Medjool dates are an excellent source of dietary fiber, rich in potassium, copper, manganese, magnesium and vitamin B6.
The sultana is a pale green oval seedless grape which has been dried. Sultanas are sweet and used in baking and eaten as a snack. Purchase naturally dried, preservative and oil free sultanas, organic is best.
A prune is a dried plum. Prunes can be used in both sweet and savoury cooking. Remove the pit before using in cooking. Prunes contain a mild laxative. They are high in dietary fibre and vitamin K and also high in antioxidants. Purchase organic prunes that contain no preservatives (sulphur).
I feel it's much better for our health if we filter our water. Our tap water contains disinfectants, chlorine and chloramine. Also floride is add which I believe is toxin to our bodies.
Use an organic vanilla extract (not an essence) or vanilla powder. Vanilla makes a big difference to the flavour of a recipe, I recommend keeping to the quantities I have stated in a recipe. I prefer Madagascar pure vanilla extract manufactured by ‘Simply Organic’ and for powder, Vanillamax 100% pure, finely ground Madagascar vanilla beans produced by Bulletproof.
I am sure you will notice as you read my recipes that cinnamon appears quite frequently. It lends itself to savoury and sweet dishes. I have used ground cinnamon in my recipes if not stated otherwise. The best cinnamon to use is Ceylon (Verum). It has huge health benefits in regulating blood sugar levels. Cinnamon has antifungal properties and candida (yeast overgrowth) cannot live in a cinnamon environment. Added to food it inhibits bacterial growth, making it a natural food preservative and these are just a few of the benefits.
Ginger root is widely used as a spice but also for medicinal purposes. It is a hot spice which you will find in many commercial curry powders. It's often used to prevent motion sickness and nausea. Some studies have shown joint swelling in people suffering with arthritis experience less pain and swelling when taken daily. I like to use fresh minced ginger in my meals and dry ground ginger in baked goods.
Allspice is a dried fruit and gets its name from its flavour, which seems to be a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. The fruit is picked when green and ripped in the sun, when dried they are brown and look similar to a peppercorn, it is then ground for use in cooking.
I have used large free range or organic eggs from a 700g carton in my recipes. Eggs are one of the few foods considered to be a complete protein because they contain all 9 essential amino acids, also studies have shown that lutein (yellow colour) in egg yolks protects against the progress of early heart disease.
Coconut oil is one of the most nutritious fats to cook and bake with. Use organic extra-virgin coconut oil which is unrefined and unbleached from non GMO coconuts. Coconut oil has a high smoking point and it is slow to oxidize due to its high saturated fat content, thus, resistant to going rancid. Some studies suggest coconut oil helps with digestion, including irritable bowel, tummy bugs, candida and parasites due to this oil containing short term medium-chain saturated fatty acids (MCFAs), which is a healthy form of saturated fat.
Also known as Bicarbonate of Soda or Sodium Bicarbonate and is used as a rising agent in baking, it contains no gluten or grains. I use Bob's Red Mill baking soda as I find it rises better than other brands I've tried.
Raw pink Himalayan salt crystals is unlike common table salt which can be a highly refined industrial byproduct, otherwise know as sodium chloride. Himalayan salt is completely pure and may naturally balance the body's alkaline/acidity and regulate water content. In addition Himalayan salt helps in the absorption of nutrients from food and contains many trace minerals for healthy cell structure. I purchase fine pink Himalayan crystal salt so I can use it in my shaker and for cooking.
The most favoured gluten/grain free flour substitute in my kitchen is almond meal. It is finely ground blanched almonds and is also known as almond flour. It has a slightly sweet flavour so you don’t have to add as much sweetener when baking with it. Almond meal/flour is rich in manganese which helps the body heal after injuries and also helps the body break down carbohydrates. Almond flour is also rich in magnesium, which can help control your blood sugar levels. It's rich in vitamin E and other antioxidants, which may help reduce the risk of serious health conditions like cancer, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. Almonds are also a good source of calcium.
All kinds of nuts can be ground down to make a meal and are excellent for raw cheesecake or pie bases. Nut meals/flours are best stored in airtight containers in the fridge or freezer to prevent them going rancid.
Hazelnut meal is made from pure ground hazelnuts. The meal has a sweet, nutty flavour and adds a delicious rich flavour to baked goods. Hazelnuts are rich in protein, monounsaturated fat, vitamin E, manganese and other essential nutrients. They are a good source of dietary fibre and are low in carbohydrates. My brand of choice is Bob's Red Mill finely ground Hazelnut Meal.
Almonds have 240mg of calcium in 50gms, as much as is found in 200ml of milk. Nuts are a great protein snack. Eat them raw or activated and it's best to avoid store bought roasted nuts that have been cooked in canola, sunflower or similar vegetable oils. When ground finely almonds make a wonderful nut meal/flour for grain-free baking.