My mom loves Christmas cake. So after I discovered ghee, I have been making a version of my Grannie’s Christmas Cake for her the past few years. I’ve modified it to take out the parts I don’t like and to make it a bit (emphasis on the bit part) healthier than the traditional version. First, I have removed the candied citron peel as ain’t nobody got time for that (aka. it’s gross). Then, I replaced some of the usual candied fruit for unsweetened dried fruit. Third, I douse it in way more brandy than the original recipe called for as it needs to stay moist of course!
This cake is super rich – it’s great when you eat it just because, but it is amazing when you eat it while skiing or while outside in cold weather. I think it’s because the ghee and brandy to help keep you warm! ;)
Gluten, Casein and Soy Free Christmas Cake
4 oz. currants
2 oz. apple juice sweetened dried cranberries
6 oz. sultana raisins
4 oz. dried figs, diced (I cut them in half lengthwise and then slice them into three sections)
4 oz. glace cherries, cut in half
2-3 rings of dried, unsweetened pineapple cut/teared into pieces
2 oz. blanched slivered almonds
1/4 c. starch
4 oz. Ghee (it’s casein free!) (Or 6 oz. butter)
2/3 c. sugar
1 egg replacer (I made mine with Almond milk, but feel free to use any dairy free milk)
2 tbsp. brandy
1/2 c. each brown rice flour, sorghum flour and tapioca starch
1/4 c. millet flour
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. baking powder
- Preheat oven to 250F and place a bowl or pan full of water in the oven.
- Take an 8″ springform pan and line with parchment paper and wax paper sticking 2″ above the edge of the pan (parchment paper on the outside – to do this, I cut out a circle of each for the bottom and then a long strip of each that is 2″ wider than the height of the pan. The length is pi*d, and for my pan, it was around 24″. You do want a bit of overlap, so if it’s too long, that’s okay!)
- In a large bowl, combine all the dried fruits. Add the starch and toss until the fruit is covered, breaking up any clumps.
- In a stand mixer, cream the ghee and sugar.
- Add eggs one at a time and beat until combined.
- Add the brandy and mix until combined.
- Sift in the flours and beat until a smooth batter forms.
- Remove from mixer and stir in the dried fruits until fruit is evenly distrubuted in the batter.
- Scrape in lined pan and smooth out.
- Bake for 3 hrs or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and let cool on a rack. Don’t remove from the pan.
- Once cool, take a toothpick or other thin pointy object (I used one of those turkey skewers) and poke holes all over the cake. Take a 2 -3 tbsp. of brandy and pour over cake. Place cake in a ziploc bag.
- Repeat a couple times over the next few days. The cake can be stored on the counter for a few days on the counter and longer in the fridge. It freezes very well, just make sure you brandy it at least twice and wrap in two ziploc bags.
- Enjoy the rich goodness!
Note: When you thaw it, douse it in brandy. Trust me, it’s worth it. :)
Are you a Christmas Cake lover or hater?
This is one of the recipes that I can’t believe that I haven’t shared as it’s been a summer staple and favourite in my family growing up. My mom would peel the peaches and assemble the pastry as we all waited in eager anticipation of what was coming. Needless to say that peach pastry never lasted long in our house.
It was only until Mr Bean made a comment that I realized not everyone peeled the skin off the peaches before eating them ever. Now I rarely do so – many for convenience, but it’s definitely worth the extra time for this recipe!
It’s a fairly simple and forgiving recipe: create a shortbread crust, put halved peaches on it, bake it, pour the sour cream custard around peaches and bake some more.
The original recipe was made with sour cream and butter, but I used goat yoghurt and goat butter to make it more friendly towards me. I know in the past I have used dairy free margarine for the crust and I imagine that unsweetened dairy free greek style yoghurt would work to make it dairy free. I don’t think that the egg can be replaced and have a similar texture.
You could use canned peaches if desired, but bake the crust by itself first. Adjust sugar levels depending on whether peaches are sweetened or not.
Gluten and Cow Dairy Free Peach Pastry
1 c. Gluten Free Flour Blend (I used Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose GF Flour)
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1/4 c. goats butter (or regular butter or butter substitute)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. sugar
3/4 c. goat yoghurt (original recipe calls for sour cream)
1 tsp. lemon juice (don’t add if using sour cream)
1 egg, beaten
<1/4 c. sugar
5 peaches, skinned and halved (You’ll only need 4 1/2 peaches)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. sugar (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Mix flour, xathan gum, salt, baking powder and sugar in a bowl. Cut in butter using a pastry blender or your hands.
- Press into a 8″ x 8″ or 9″ x 9″ pan. Arrange 9 peach halves on top of pastry. Sprinkle on cinnamon and sugar.
- Bake pastry and peaches in oven for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix together the yoghurt, lemon juice, egg and sugar.
- Remove pan from oven and pour yoghurt mixture around the peach halves.
- Return to oven and bake for 30 min or until the yoghurt mixture is starting to brown and crack slightly.
- Cool before serving.
Do you peel peaches before eating them?
For July’s Secret Recipe Club, I was paired with Becky of A Calculated Whisk. She also cooks gluten free (and paleo), so I was was spoiled in my options and with the eye candy of her beautiful photos!
Becky also loves putting avocados in smoothies, Salted chocolate hazelnut cookies, Mexican almond pulp brownies, Vietnamese caramelized pork meatballs vermicelli bowls and Pico de gallo de frutas.
I had a few avocadoes on my counter and some fresh basil that needed using up, so I ended up making her avocado cilantro pesto pasta salad.
I did modify the recipe as I had basil to use up, so I replaced the cilantro in my version. I added garlic because what pesto is complete without garlic? I used my single serve blender instead of a food processor as it’s much easier to clean. I think pestos are supposed to be chunkier, but I blended mine smooth. I used hemp hearts instead of the feta as I had it on hand and I try not to eat a lot of cheese.
I tried it both warm and cold and I prefer the cold version of it. It goes very well with barbecued meat, making this the perfect healthy summer side dish! Mr. Bean and I liked it so much we are definitely adding it into our repertoire!
Avocado Pesto Pasta Salad
1 clove of garlic
1 c. Fresh basil
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 c. Hemp hearts, divided
Juice of 1 lime
Green onions, sliced
1 lb. pasta (I used go go quinoa circle pasta, but feel free to use whatever kind of pasta you want.)
- Cook pasta to Al Dente. Drain and set aside.
- In a food processor or blender, blend together avocados, lime juice, olive oil, garlic and basil. Once smooth/to the desired degree of blendedness, add 1/4 c. of hemp hearts and blend.
- Pour pesto over pasta, adding green onions, peas and remainder of the hemp hearts.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
What’s your favourite summer pasta?
For the rest of Group D’s recipes, please click below!
Have you ever put an avocado in a smoothie before? If not, you’re missing out! Imagine pudding without the sugar, dairy or eggs that is actually good for you. Plus, smoothies are way better when you can eat them with a spoon. I’ve made variations of the above smoothies for breakfast for the last few weeks and they are too good not to share!
They are super simple to make (throw everything in a blender) and a great way to get eat healthy this Christmas while still feeling a little bit decadent! Feel free to adjust what you put in it or double the recipe to make two servings – it’s all about creative license!
“Green” Christmas Smoothie
1/2 frozen banana, cut into chunks
1/2 pear, cut into chunks
1 mandarin orange
1/2 large avocado
1 – 2 handfuls of spinach
Scoop of Protein Powder (optional)
Splash of orange juice
“Red” Christmas Smoothie
1/2 frozen banana, cut into chunks
1/2 pear, cut into chunks
10 – 20 fresh cranberries
1/2 large cooked beet (if you don’t have any, use any red fruit like cherries, raspberries, etc. but the colour won’t be as vivid)
2 pieces honey-candied ginger (or a slice of fresh ginger root and a small squeeze of honey)
Small handful of spinach
1 squirt of lemon juice
Splash of orange juice
- Place all ingredients except avocado in a single serve (or regular blender) and blend until smooth. Add avocado and blend until mixed. (If you have a high-powered blender, add everything at once).
- Pour into a glass and eat with a spoon.
I hope you have a blessed and merry Christmas! All the best to you and your family for 2015!
For November’s Secret Recipe Club, I was paired with Avril of Baking and Creating with Avril. Avril is a pro-star baker, with tons of delicious recipes like this Hummingbird Bundt Cake, these Apple Crumble Muffins, and even a cake with Cauliflower in it!
With the help of Mr. Bean, I ended up choosing to make her zucchini cornbread as we didn’t want something that was sugar-tastic and it was definitely delicious!
As expected, I did make a few changes: I made it gluten free, dairy free by substituting almond milk for the buttermilk and olive oil & more almond milk for the melted and cooled butter. I also reduced the sugar to 1/4 c. and used salt to help dehydrate the zucchini instead of sugar.) Even with the modifications, it had an excellent texture, had a good amount of sweetness and was nice and moist.
Gluten, Dairy and Soy Free Zucchini Cornbread
1/3 c. each of brown rice, millet and sorghum flours (or 1 c. of any GF flour – if you can have gluten, use 1 1/2 c. flour and omit the xathan gum)
1/2 c. tapioca starch
1 tsp. xathan gum
3/4 c. cornmeal1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt + 1 tsp salt
1 medium zucchini
1/3 c. olive oil
2/3 c. almond milk (or other dairy free milk)
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- Half an hour before you want to make your cornbread, grate the zucchini, sprinkle it with 1 tsp salt and place in a dish towl lined strainer or seive. After 1/2 hour (or more), squeeze out excess water from zucchini. Set aside.
- Preheat your oven to 350F and grease a 9 x 5″ pan. (I used a 6″ cast iron skillet & 4 out of 6 large muffin tins.) If your pan(s) are metal, place in the oven while it’s preheating)
- In a measuring cup, mix together the almond milk and the apple cider vinegar. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flours, xathan gum, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, 1/2 tsp. salt and sugar.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, milk mixture and eggs. Mix in the grated grated zucchini.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix with a spatula until all the flour is incorporated. Add more almond milk if required.
- Remove the pan from the oven (careful, it’s hot!) and pour the batter into it.
- Return to the oven and bake for ~18 min (for muffins), ~30 – 35 min (for 6″ cast iron skillet) or ~50 minutes (for the loaf pan) or until a toothpick inserted comes out dry.
- Allow to cool slightly before serving.
Please check out the rest of Group D’s recipes by clicking below!