This sourdough Christmas cake recipe uses the process of lacto fermentation, with the microorganisms supplied by a sourdough bread starter and kefir whey. Kefir whey is made from fermenting milk with kefir grains (preferably raw whole milk from organic pasture fed Jersey type cows), and separating out the curds and whey.
The fruit and nuts are fermented overnight before the rest of the ingredients are mixed in and left to culture for a further 12-24 hours. The sourdough process ensures that both the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors have been neutralised, and that most of the gluten has been digested, making this Christmas pudding more nutritious, digestible and flavoursome. Choose organic nuts and dried fruits that have not been preserved with sulphites or sugar, or softened with oil. If you can not obtain all organic ingredients then you may take heart that the fermentation process will breakdown at least some of the pesticides and chemicals into harmless substances and in some cases useful antioxidants.
Spelt flour is called for in this recipe but you may use whichever flour suits you, but please note that gluten free flour will not rise and the cake would be quite heavy. However if you use a gluten flour, the sourdough process should digest most of the gluten, and anecdotal reports are that many people who are gluten intolerant have no symptoms from a sourdough recipe.
For information on how to make a sourdough bread starter and where to get free kefir grains to culture the milk please visit www.rejoiceinlife.com/recipes/ or phone Abby Eagle in Australia on 07 5576 4270.
You will need a 4 litre glass bowl and a 9 inch spring form tin.
FRUIT AND NUTS
FLOUR AND SPICES
As this Christmas cake uses the sourdough process you will need to make it over a period of 2 days, though I have made it successfully in 24 hours.
the fruit and nuts
Chop the dried fruit into 1/2 cm peices then mix with the chopped nuts and citrus peel in a 4 litre glass bowl. Add the blackstrap molasses, dark ale, brandy and Kefir whey. Cover with a cloth held in place with a piece of elastic and leave to ferment overnight at about 25C.
the Christmas cake
When the fermented fruit and nuts are ready then mix in the grated beetroot
In a separate bowl mix 3 cups of flour with the spices and salt, then rub in the sugar and butter with your fingers. Then process about 1/3 of this flour and spice mixture in a food processor with the eggs and sourdough starter. Transfer the mixture from the food processor to the bowl with the fruit and nuts, and mix well with a heavy spoon. Mix in the rest of the flour and spice mixture then add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of flour a little at a time until the mixture forms the consistency of a moist cake batter. (You may need to adjust the quantity of flour to suit your recipe.)
Grease a 9 inch springform baking tin and line with greaseproof paper. (Cut a round piece of baking paper to fit the base and a strip to line the sides.) Spoon in the sourdough Christmas cake mixture and leave to prove for 12-24 hours at 28C, or until it has nearly doubled in size. If you bake the cake when it has risen to about 80% of its capacity then it should rise further in the oven and give a nice rounded top (known as oven spring). If you let the dough rise to its full capacity before you bake it then it will probably sink. (This is something that you only learn from experience.) Bake at 180C in a preheated oven for 50 minutes then turn the heat down to 150C and if necessary cook for a further 15-25 minutes, or until the cake looks cooked and a clean knife comes out dry.
Remove the sourdough Christmas cake from the oven and leave to cool for 30 minutes, before removing it from the tin and placing it face down on a cake rack. Inverting the cake should prevent the top from sinking, which can happen with this type of recipe. Serve the sourdough Christmas cake with Kefir cream, brandy butter or whisky sauce. (See recipe menu )
1 teaspoon = 5 ml / 5 gm. 1 tablespoon = 15 ml / 15 gm. 15 tablespoons = 1 cup / 225 ml. 1 cup = 8 fluid oz / 225 ml. 1 US gallon = 3.6 litres. 1 lb = 16 oz / 454 gm. Temperature 20C = 68F. Conversion from Fahrenheit to Celsius: C = (F - 32) / 1.8. Conversion from Celsius to Fahrenheit: F = C x 1.8 + 32
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