Wild Sourdough Spelt or Khorasan Christmas Cake BY HAND
VEGAN option: use vegan butter/margarine
Gluten Free option: use brown rice starter (avail from my website) and Gluten Free plain flour
I always adore making and eating fruit cake, so creating this recipe was a joy. This cake has the texture of a classic Christmas cake – dense and complex in flavour, which is what you want for an exceptional and easy-to-digest Christmas cake. You do have the option to add a teaspoon of baking powder to make this cake lighter but it is not essential. This recipe is versatile so you can change the dried fruit mix (about 325–400g) to suit your taste. One combination I love is dried pear, hazelnut and ground cardamom.
The method is quite simple, just like making any traditional butter cake. The white sourdough starter is added at the end of the mixing before the addition of fruits and nuts. The long fermentation allows pre-digestion of gluten, fat and sugar. You can use wheat instead of spelt or kamut/khorasan. Khorasan is worth a try, because for some people this unhybridised/ancient wheat is easier to digest than modern wheat. However, please consult your medical practitioner for advice.
NOTE: This cake is full of fruit, so the cake mixture will not double in size. If you prefer a more complex flavoured cake, you need to make this cake 1–2 months before Christmas.
Use the best quality organic dried fruit you can buy!
Cake, Wild Sourdough Spelt or Khorasan Christmas Cake
This is a dense fruitcake which has a more complex flavour than traditional fruitcake because it is naturally fermented with sourdough culture.
It is naturally easier to digest than a traditional fruit cake. This cake relies on the sweetness of the dried fruit rather than refined sugar.
Servings: 20 cake
Fruit and Liqueur mixture - prepare at least a day before and up to 2 months
- 125 grams small dark raisins (muscatels) or sultanas
- 75 grams dried black cherries or cranberries
- 25 grams candied peels (candied orange and candied citron)
- 50 grams dried apricots
- 50 grams dried figs
- 50 grams activated nuts of your choice optional
- 50 grams brandy, whisky or your liqueur of choice
Flour and spice mixture
- 125 grams organic white spelt flour or khorasan flour You can use wheat if you prefer
- 1-2 tsp mixed spice Speculaas spice is a favorite
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger or cloves optional
- 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 125 grams butter, softened at room temperature
- 150 grams dark brown or rapadura sugar
- 150 grams Raw sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or 1 vanilla bean split lengthwise and scraped
- 3 large organic eggs (150g without shell) at room temperature
- 250 grams white spelt or kamut sourdough starter
- 25 grams molasses
Mix fruit and liqueur
Prepare the fruit and liqueur mixture at least a day before you plan to make the Christmas cake. You can also prepare the mixture a few weeks beforehand for a stronger flavour.
Mix the ingredients together and leave to marinate at least overnight. The next day, drain the mixture, separating it into fruit and liquid. The fruit will be added to the cake, while the liquid will be used to glaze it once baked.
Put the flour and spice mixture ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until the flour mixture is well distributed. Put aside.
Beat/Whisk soft butter, the two sugars and vanilla in a bowl until light and creamy. This will take a few minutes by hand.
Scrape down sides frequently to make sure the ingredients are well mixed.
Slowly add eggs one by one and stop mixing once the mixture looks curdled. Scrape sides of bowl.
Add sourdough starter and molasses and mix well but gently. Scrape sides of bowl.
Gently mix in the pre-mixed flour and spice mixture. Do not over-mix or you will end up with a tough cake. Scrape sides of bowl.
Cover and ferment your cake mixture for 4–6 hours. The cake mixture will rise about 1¼–1½ its original volume.
Prepare cake tins
Line cake tins with butter then line with silicone coated baking or parchment paper (e.g. Gladbake). You have the option of using:
• 20cm diameter (8in) round cake tin – each holds 1kg of mixture, or
• 2 x 12.5cm (5in) round cake tin – each holds 500–550g of mixture, or
• 8–10 muffins – each holds 120–150g of mixture.
Add and mix
Add drained fruit to fermented cake mixture, making sure the fruit is well distributed.
If you have decided to use baking powder to make the cake lighter, add the baking powder now. I prefer the cake without the baking powder as I like my fruitcake dense.
Pour into lined tin or tins. You should only fill two-thirds of the tin or the cake mixture will overflow during baking.
Put the cake inside a cold oven and set the temperature to 165°C (329°F).
Here are the baking times depending on the size of cake tin you used:
For 20cm (8in) tins
Bake on lower third rack for 45 minutes at initial temperature of 165°C (329°F). Then reduce heat to 150°C (302°F) and bake for a further 1 ½–2 hours until golden brown. If the cake top browns too quickly, cover it with aluminium foil.
For 12.5cm (5in) tins
Bake on lower third rack for 1 hour 15 minutes at initial temperature of 165°C (329°F).
Bake on lower third rack for 40–45 minutes at initial temperature of 165°C (329°F).
Remove cake from the oven and brush generously with the leftover liqueur. You can brush your cake with any liqueur of your choice (brandy, rum, whisky, Cointreau) every few days for a month before Christmas. This will make your cake so delicious and moist.