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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Since discovering this fruit cake recipe in a German cookbook about ten years ago, I’ve made this cake every winter at least once. I just love its heartiness and rich spicy, fruity flavor.

I’ve modified the original recipe a little, to match my own preferences, and now it is free of several common allergens.

This fruit cake is:

  • dairy-free
  • vegan
  • low-fat
  • free of refined sugar
  • potentially nut free, if you omit the almond flour

2013-12-15_Spiced_Apple_Fruit_Cake

Spiced Apple Fruit Cake

This recipe yields a very dense, hearty loaf, filled to the brim with juicy fruits and seasonal spices. While this cake doesn’t contain any refined sugar, it’s still sweet enough for my taste buds, thanks to all the dried fruit and grated apples. If you prefer your baked goods to be on the sweeter side, feel free to add honey, maple syrup, or your favorite wholesome sweetener.

Prep time: 20 minutes + a few hours of soaking time

Baking time: 45-50 minutes

Yield: One big loaf

*Vegetarian*Vegan*Sugar-free*

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups mixed dried fruit, chopped (e.g. raisins, figs, apricots)
  • 1 cup water or apple juice
  • 1 Tbsp rum (optional)
  • 3 medium-sized sweet apples (e.g. gala, fuji, pink lady)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour (optional)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves, ground
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or ground vanilla bean

Directions:

Chop up the dried fruit into 1-inch pieces, put into a bowl and add water or juice and optional rum. Mix and let soak in the fridge for a few hours or over night.

Combine flours, baking powder, cocoa powder, and all dry spices in a separate bowl. Grate the apples (note: I like to leave on the skin, but feel free to peel them) and add them to the dried fruit. Mix wet and dry ingredients, including soaking liquid, and stir until just combined. The dough will be very dense and heavy.

Pour the cake batter into a greased loaf pan, and bake at 350°F (175°C) for 45 to 50 minutes. The cake is done when the top starts to brown and the edges come away from the pan. The inside of the cake will still be very wet and appear undercooked, but that’s okay.

Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes. Then flip the pan and remove the cake, and wrap it in tin foil while it’s still warm. Let it rest for a few hours.

This cake is best kept in the fridge, tightly wrapped in tin foil.

Note: I recommend using unsulfured, unsweetened dried fruits. A mix of raisins, apricots, and figs is what I normally use in this cake, but you could also add cranberries, dates, mangoes or any other kind of dried fruit.

Enjoy!

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Christmas at our house has been a very lazy one this year. We don’t have any little kids impatiently waiting for presents, we aren’t religious either, so we are simply enjoying a few days off of work together.

Breakfast Sandwich

On Christmas Eve, I had my usual sandwiches for breakfast, but I tried to make them more festive with cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices.

Lunch Sandwich

Lunch was just another quick sandwich, as I needed to get some last-minute grocery shopping done before the store closed. It was insane! But I made it back home alive and with all the things I wanted to get. Now, that’s a Christmas miracle!

Muesli

As an afternoon snack I enjoyed a small bowl of my favorite muesli with soymilk. This muesli contains lots of dried fruit, which makes it taste naturally sweet without any added sugar. So good!

Christmas Cookies

Speaking of sugar, I also had countless cookies and lebkuchen. And some homemade mulled wine. Hey, it’s the season!

Sujebi - Noodle Soup

Dinner was the highlight of the day. The day before I had made a very flavorful vegetable broth, which was turned into sujebi, Korean hand torn noodle soup. It is such a simple dish, but very heart-warming and delicious. Of course I left out anything meaty or fishy, and made a rather mild version for myself, but it was still very good.

This is as far from a traditional Christmas dinner as it can be, but we are a non-traditional couple after all. ;)

What did you do on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?

See you!

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Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas

I wish everyone a very merry Christmas and happy holidays!

We plan to be very lazy and spend some time with our loved ones.

See you!

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I know, I’m a bit late posting a holiday recipe on December 22nd. But maybe there are some last-minute bakers like me out there.

This is a veganized version of my favorite seasonal treat. As those Lebkuchen contain no flour, they are potentially gluten-free.

Lebkuchen

German Gingerbread (Lebkuchen)

This flour-less version of the classic German gingerbread is also known as ‘Elisenlebkuchen’, and surprisingly easy to make. Things may get a little messy, but the tasty results are totally worth it.

Prep time: 30 minutes + at least 60 minutes resting time

Baking time: 15-20 minutes

Yield: Makes about 20 servings

*Vegetarian*Vegan*Gluten free*(check labels)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (50 g) candied orange peel
  • 1/2 cup (50 g) candied lemon peel
  • 3 Tbsp rum (or orange juice or water)
  • 1 cup (100 g) finely ground hazelnuts
  • 2 cups (200 g) finely ground almonds
  • 3 tsp gingerbread spice mix (or 2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp cloves, 1/2 tsp ginger, pinch of nutmeg, pinch of coriander)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp non-dairy milk (e.g. soy, rice, or almond milk)
  • 1/3 cup (80 g) brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • a tiny dash of salt

Optional:

  • 3 oz (85 g) dark chocolate

Or

  • 1/2 cup (60 g) powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tsp lemon juice or water

Directions:

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.  Finely chop the candied orange and lemon peel. Mix with rum, juice, or water in a small bowl and set aside. In another small bowl, mix the flax seeds with water and non-dairy milk. Let that mixture sit for a few minutes until it has thickened. Combine the ground nuts, spice mix, and baking powder in a large bowl.

In another bowl mix the flax mixture, sugar, molasses, and salt with an electric mixer for about five minutes until foamy and smooth. Then add the candied orange and lemon peels and the dry ingredients and combine gently.

Spread the dough onto the baking sheets using a tablespoon. Smooth the surface with wet fingers. The lebkuchen should be as thick as your thumb and about 3-4 inches in diameter.

Let the lebkuchen rest at room temperature for about 60 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 150°C (300°F). Bake the lebkuchen for 15-20 minutes until they firm up a little and turn slightly brown, but they should still be a little soft on the inside. Let them cool on the sheets.

Now you can leave the lebkuchen as they are, or cover them either in chocolate or sugar icing. For the chocolate version slowly melt some dark chocolate in the microwave or over a double boiler, then thinly coat the top of the lebkuchen (I use a silicone pastry brush for this step). Alternatively, you could mix some powdered sugar with just a little bit of lemon juice or water, and use that mix as a coating instead.

Stored in a tin box, the lebkuchen stay soft and delicious for a few weeks, especially the coated ones.

***

Happy baking!

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This year my cookie baking attempts were not quite successful. The few batches I made were edible, but far from blog worthy. I still have a few days until Christmas, and I will definitely use the time to bake some more.

Mom's Cookies

Last week I told my mother about my cookie woes, and she immediately sent me a big box of her own home-made cookies! I’m embarrassed to admit that they are already gone. My husband helped me, though.

Breakfast Sandwiches

Last Saturday I enjoyed a big, filling breakfast. We had booked another horseback riding lesson, so I knew I needed extra fuel. (Riding is so much fun! More on that soon.) The weird thing at the top is a veggie burger, made from a boxed mix. Not bad, just a little too dry.

Lunch Sandwiches

When we finally arrived back home I was starving! So I had another quick sandwich. The one on the left was topped with hummus and cheese-less pesto. Awesome combo!

Vegan Chili

It’s been cold and rainy lately, and I’d been craving a hearty bowl of chili for a while. So I cooked up a batch for dinner. This mix contained TVP, white beans, kidney beans, sweet corn, and red bell pepper. I added a little cumin and cinnamon, which gave the dish a very special flavor. I served the chili with soy yogurt, brown rice, and green onion.

Please excuse me now, my cookie dough is waiting for me!

Do you like to bake Christmas cookies?

See you!

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I’m back home, thank goodness! I already returned on Friday, actually, but I needed a few days to recover and catch up on work stuff.

As I mentioned in my last post, I spent the last week away from home, at some kind of training course, organised by my company. We got free breakfast, lunch, and dinner there, but apparenty their focus is more on quantity instead of quality. The cafeteria has very limited funds, and I think it shows. I assumed that there would be very few meat-free options, and sadly I was right. I survived, but I’m really thrilled to be able to prepare my own meals again.

The breakfasts were pretty standard, just sandwiches with various toppings, but I’ll show you some lunches and dinners that I had there.

Monday's Lunch & Dinner

Monday: Potato casserole for lunch, French fries for dinner, both with a side salad.

Tuesday's Lunch & Dinner

Tuesday: Baked potato with roasted vegetables for lunch, pasta salad for dinner.

Lunches

That’s not a dessert on the left picture, it’s Wednesday’s sweet lunch, which is rather common in the Alpine region. This dish was similar to a sweet lasagna with plums and vanilla sauce. A little weird, but not that bad. Dinner that night was fried potatoes, that I didn’t take a photo of.

Thursday’s lunch was a plate of gnocchi, that were a bit dry but ok. I also tried the pumpkin soup, which was horrible. Way too salty, very thin, and it didn’t taste like pumpkin at all.

Did you notice something? Almost all of those meals contained potatoes! They seriously served us potato-based dishes for lunch and dinner every single day! I do like potatoes in general, but that was just too much.

Brown rice bowl

So when I came home on Friday, I instantly made myself a bowl of brown rice, sweet potatoes, and broccoli. Much better!

But I do have to give them credit for their salad bar! It was always well stocked with fresh greens and a decent selection of cooked or raw vegetables.

What was the worst food you’ve ever had while eating out?

See you!

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When you’re reading this, I’m somewhere in the Salzburg area (German/Austrian border). I’m at a training/workshop thing all week, and finding healthy, plant-based food will be quite challenging. I’ll write more about that experience next week.

So here’s what I ate on Saturday:

Breakfast Sandwiches

The day started the usual way. I was trying to eat up all the perishable food in my kitchen, like half an avocado, a cucumber, and an open pack of tofurky slices.

Quinoa Salad

My lunch was a very random salad of leftovers: romaine, quinoa, sweet corn, tomato, all mixed together. That was a legit salad beast!

Later that day my husband and I went horseback riding. That probably deserves its own post. I’ll just say that I’m a total beginner and riding a horse is much harder than it looks on TV.

Afterwards, we went to a local Christmas market, which had just opened that weekend.

Christmas Market

We enjoyed a few mugs of mulled wine (my first this season!), roasted chestnuts, potato soup for me, goulash soup for the man, and lebkuchen for dessert.

What can I say, Christmas markets are my weakness, but I’m trying to balance it all out with lots of fresh produce. We’ll see if that works.

Do you like Christmas markets? Mulled wine, lebkuchen?

See you!

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