Healthy Christmas Cake for 2017
It’s finally the most wonderful time of the year. For me, Christmas season means holiday shopping, extra festive décor, and a little more time spent in the kitchen than I would have during any other time of the year. One of the many great dishes of the season is the classic Christmas cake, which comes in light and dark, spongy and heavy, and round and square versions on dinner tables across the globe.
Whatever the style or tradition, this particular cake pulls out all the stops. Christmas cakes are typically rather dense, with lots of fruit and rich in flavors. It is also best prepared at least a month or so beforehand. This is because the cake’s taste tends to improve with age. Science Magazine reveals that the secret to finely aged Christmas cakes is the skin on its dried fruits. As it turns out, the skins of dried fruit have the same tannins that make red wines age well. This process creates complex flavors that you wouldn’t otherwise get from young wines and fruitcakes.
Rest assured, of course, that all that effort is bound to reap pretty good benefits. Christmas cakes are delicious, easy to make, and have great longevity, which is why it’s been a holiday favorite for generations.
To help avoid the usual holiday weight gain, this Christmas cake recipe is designed to be on the health-conscious side. The high fruit ratio in this recipe means that I don’t need to sweeten it with any extra sugar. In addition, it also makes it a lot healthier than most other cakes. The dried fruit ingredients are not only rich in vitamins, fiber, and nutrients, but they’re also proven to make you feel happier. Health IQ explains that two to eight servings of fruit in a day has the power to boost positive emotions and life satisfaction within the first year of their addition to a person’s diet.
The lack of added sugar will also help those looking to cut back on their Christmas intake. The New England Journal of Medicine reports that people tend to gain an average of around three to five pounds over the holidays, which can build up over the years if people do not lose them in the months following Christmas. I’ve also tweaked the recipe to be gluten and dairy free using almond meal.
This recipe can be served in small slices after meals or as a pudding with custard or yogurt. For those wishing to soak their Christmas cakes in liqueur, pierce several holes into the cake after taking it out of the oven. Drip around ¼ cup of orange liqueur into the holes to let your Christmas cake soak it all up.
The delicious mix of vanilla, fruit, cinnamon, and nuts prove that ‘tis, indeed, the season to be jolly.
Healthy Christmas Cake
Servings: 20 small servings
Author: Angela Coleby
• 600 g mixed dried fruit or a mix of raisins, apricot, sultanas, and cranberries
• 1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract
• ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 orange’s zest and juice
• 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 3 eggs
• 2 cups ground almonds
• 50 g walnuts
• Preheat your oven to 150°C / 300°F
• Line a 20cm cake tin with baking paper along its sides and base
• Mix the dried fruit mix, nutmeg, ground cinnamon, vanilla, orange zest and juice, olive oil, and eggs in one bowl.
• Stir the almonds and walnuts into your batter.
• Pour your batter into the lined baking tin.
• Bake for 1.5 hours. Try poking with a toothpick to see if the cake is well done. If the toothpick doesn’t come out clean, bake for another half hour.
• After baking, cool the Christmas cake and remove it from the tin. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.