This 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 (preferably raw whole milk from pasture fed Jersey type cows) with kefir grains, 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 pudding will 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.
Makes enough to fill a 750ml pudding bowl.
FRUIT AND NUTS
FLOUR AND SPICES
As this Christmas pudding uses the sourdough process you will need to make it over a period of 2 days, though I made it successfully in 24 hours.
the fruit and nuts
1. Chop the dried fruit into 1/2 cm cubes then mix with the chopped nuts and finely grated citrus peel in a large glass bowl. Add citrus juice, 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 20-25C.
the Christmas pudding
2. When the fermented fruit and nuts are ready mix in the spices, salt and unrefined sugar with 1 1/2 cups of flour, then finger in the butter. Add beaten eggs and sourdough starter. Stir in the fermented fruit and nuts, and the beetroot. Add additional flour a little at a time (about 1/2 cup) until you get a smooth cake-like batter. (Note the batter needs to be more moist than dry.)
3. Grease a 750 ml pudding bowl with butter, dust it with flour then spoon in the Christmas pudding mixture, cover with a damp cloth and leave to prove a further 12-24 hours at 28C. There needs to be about 1/2 - 1 inch of space at the top of the bowl to allow for the mixture to rise a little.
4. Put a small cake rack on the bottom of a large saucepan, then add one inch of water. Cover the pudding bowl with two circles of baking paper, (greased with butter if preferred). Hold in position with an elastic band then tie with string. Remove the elastic band. Trim off any excess paper then cover with a piece of aluminium foil held in position with string. Trim off any excess alfoil.
5. Stand the pudding bowl on the rack in the saucepan. Ensure that there is about one inch of water in the saucepan. Cover the saucepan with a lid and bring the water to a gentle boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer and steam the sourdough Christmas pudding for 2 hours. Keep an eye on the water level to ensure that it does not boil dry, topping up as necessary. The pudding may rise another 1/2-1 inch during the cooking process.
7. The sourdough Christmas pudding should improve with age and keep for a couple of months. Be sure to store it in a cool place. In warm climates it is advisable to store in a refrigerator. To reheat, steam again for 45 minutes.
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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