Amidst the challenges of this year, 2022 has proven to be quite tough for all of us. The persistent pandemic, social and political crises, inflation, and the conflict in Ukraine have left us barely catching our breath before another issue emerges. It’s as if we’re caught in a whirlwind of troubles, and sometimes, I can’t help but relate to Mafalda’s sentiment of wanting to say, “Stop the world, I want to get off.”
However, as Christmas and the end-of-year celebrations draw near, I find solace in focusing on the positive and hopeful aspects of life. Despite the frenzy of consumerism that surrounds us, I cherish the joy of sharing moments with my family and loved ones. I hold onto the hope that the inner light in our hearts will empower us to overcome the challenges and welcome a new year brimming with blessings.
Unveiling the Recipe
As October arrives, I eagerly dust off my cherished traditional Christmas recipes for vegan gluten-free “Pan de Pascua” (Xmas Cake), Black Cake, and “Cola de Momos”. With an adventurous spirit, I experiment with new twists to enhance the recipes, reflecting on any techniques I learned in the past year. Preparations begin as I gather all the necessary ingredients and items I may need.
In the past, I used to run a workshop and sold around 120 Pan de Pascua, which was quite an accomplishment. This year, things have changed, and I no longer have access to the professional oven that allowed me to bake multiple loaves at once. Nevertheless, I am content knowing that this year’s creations will be exclusively for my family’s enjoyment.
Considering the interest from my former customers in learning how to make these delightful treats, I made the heartfelt decision to share the recipes with the world. This way, they won’t miss out on the joy and warmth that these traditional delicacies bring during the festive season.
Third version of the Vegan Gluten-Free Xmas Cake
Introducing the Vegan Gluten-Free Xmas Cake recipe, now in its third or fourth delightful version. Each year, I eagerly embrace new techniques to elevate the cake’s texture, fluffiness, and flavor. Settling for anything less than a truly delectable gluten-free cake is not an option for me. Furthermore, my goal is to surpass the taste and appeal of a traditional one, and that’s why I’m constantly exploring and enriching the recipe with exciting additions.
You might have already come across the elaborate list of ingredients and steps for the Black Cake, but don’t let that deter you. Once you have all the necessary elements and grasp the techniques outlined here, you’ll discover how surprisingly straightforward the process can be. Moreover, to minimize any last-minute stress, many of the intricate steps can be completed well in advance. Take a moment to thoroughly familiarize yourself with the recipe and techniques, allowing you to approach the baking experience with a sense of calm and confidence.
The secret to creating something truly delicious lies in approaching the task with serenity and love.
Let’s now look into the details of the ingredients used in this recipe. If you’ve already acquainted yourself with the Black Cake recipe, these ingredients will be familiar to you, and there’s nothing new to discover. However, if you haven’t had the chance to prepare it yet, take a moment to read through this information before diving into the recipe.
Gluten-free Flour Mix
After conducting numerous tests, I made a resolute choice for the flours in this recipe; simply rice flour, whether white or whole, depending on your preference for added fiber. Surprisingly, both variations yield the same exceptional result.
To further enhance the dough’s fluffiness, I introduced a blend of starches, an ingredient blend I often use in my sweet dough recipes. Extensive experimentation with various recipes led me to the conclusion that combining multiple starches always produces a lighter and airier texture compared to using a single type of starch. In my artisan gluten-free and vegan sourdough guide, I explore this topic in greater detail for those seeking more insights. However, don’t worry if you don’t have all three starches readily available; using two or even just one will still yield a splendid cake. I encourage you to venture into the realm of experimentation, trying both single and combined starch options to experience the subtle differences firsthand.
In this recipe, I incorporate a blend of binders, primarily 2% Psyllium, and 0.2% Xanthan gum. For those familiar with these ingredients, feel free to adjust them to your liking. However, if you’re new to them, I recommend starting with these quantities. My preference leans towards using a higher proportion of Psyllium, as it imparts a delightful, slightly grainy texture characteristic of a Christmas cake. Meanwhile, the modest addition of xanthan gum adds the necessary flexibility to prevent any risk of crumbling.
It’s essential to maintain the specified amounts of these binders as they play a pivotal role in achieving the cake’s perfect texture. If your digital scale lacks precision for small measurements, fear not! For this recipe, approximately 7.3g of Psyllium powder is equivalent to 1.5 teaspoons, while 0.5g of xanthan gum corresponds to 1/4 teaspoon.
Sugar vs Sweeteners
While the recipe is originally designed with sugar, you have the flexibility to opt for your preferred sweetener as a replacement. Personally, I’ve tested Erythritol and Allulose as viable alternatives, and they work quite well. However, it’s crucial to research the appropriate replacement proportions to avoid ending up with a treat that’s either overly sweet or lacking in flavor.
As for my own preference, I tend to use a slightly reduced amount of sugar, accepting a slight sacrifice in sweetness rather than resorting to artificial sweeteners. I’ve had unfavorable experiences with them, as they negatively affected my digestive system. Moreover, I’ve come across numerous articles outlining potential harm caused by artificial sweeteners on the body, making me wary of considering them as harmless products. The long-term effects of sweeteners like saccharin and aspartame on the population have only recently come to light, and undoubtedly, more insight will emerge regarding the impact of newer sweeteners in the next two or three decades. Due to this suspicion, I choose to refrain from consuming them altogether.
Exploring the Tangzhong Method
Tangzhong, a simple and effective Japanese bread-making technique, works wonders in creating irresistibly soft and fluffy dough while retaining moisture for longer-lasting freshness. Known as the cooked starch method in the Western world, it involves combining one part flour with five parts water and cooking it over medium heat until it forms a creamy, porridge-like texture. The magic happens as the starch gelatinizes around 65°C (150°F). It’s crucial to avoid overcooking or boiling, as this can hinder its effectiveness.
Personally, I prepare Tangzhong using white rice flour once a week and store it in the refrigerator, where it stays good for up to 10 days. To do so, I whisk together 100g of white rice flour with 500ml of water and gently heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly while monitoring the temperature with a kitchen thermometer. I ensure it reaches the desired texture without surpassing 70°C (160°F), which typically takes around 3 to 5 minutes. If you only need a smaller quantity for a single use, you can adjust the ratio to 1 part flour to 5 parts water.
Here’s another fantastic technique that brings remarkable results in various bread and cake doughs, delivering both flexibility and fluffiness. My discovery of this method began while exploring potential substitutes for eggs or egg whites in recipes. While it may not work for creating meringues like aquafaba does, it certainly enhances the texture of the dough. The best part is that you can prepare this ingredient well in advance and store it in the refrigerator for up to 10 days without any issues.
To create the gel, start by boiling flax seeds in water at a ratio of 1:15, meaning 15 ml of water for every 1 gram of flaxseeds. For example, if you have 50 grams of flaxseeds, you’ll need 750 ml of water. Simply place them in a pot, bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, and stir constantly for about 5 to 8 minutes until the liquid reaches a gel-like consistency. While the gel is still hot, strain it using a stainless steel strainer. Once it has cooled, transfer it to a glass jar and store it in the refrigerator. You can discard the flaxseeds or keep them in water in the refrigerator for up to 10 days; they can be used for making bread or added to other recipes.
- Once the gel cools down, it transforms into a texture akin to egg whites, making it essential to strain it while it’s still hot. Overcooking may lead to excessive gelatinization, resulting in a firm, jelly-like consistency, which indicates boiling for too long. If this happens, it’s best to start anew, as my attempts to salvage it with boiling water were unsuccessful in the past. The desired texture should be pleasantly viscous without being overly hard.
- Interestingly, I discovered numerous internet recipes utilizing this flaxseed gel as a hair gel, particularly favored by individuals with curly hair seeking to accentuate their curls. Its nourishing properties and silky effect on hair intrigued me, and although I was a bit hesitant at first, I must confess that the results were impressive.
This ingredient holds immense significance as it brings a delightful blend of flavor, fluffiness, and natural sweetness to your cake. Personally, I enjoy using a puree of dehydrated plums (prunes) that I prepare in advance for the Christmas season. However, feel free to explore various fruit puree options, such as apple, mango, banana, or even a delightful combination. Rest assured, they will work just as marvelously. Nowadays, you can find an array of organic, sugar-free fruit puree snacks in stores, which I’ve also tested in this recipe with outstanding results. Consider stocking up on a few to keep in your pantry for easy access whenever needed.
Flavourings, dried fruit and nuts
This recipe embraces the essence of Christmas with a delightful array of flavors, including the timeless combination of vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and more. The addition of dried fruits, particularly walnuts and raisins, further enhances the festive spirit. These ingredients offer great flexibility, allowing you to tailor them to your personal preferences and dietary needs. Feel free to modify them according to your own criteria, ensuring a harmonious balance without overpowering any individual element. As always, I recommend trying the recipe as it is initially and then adjusting it to suit your unique taste preferences..
In this recipe, I incorporate apple cider vinegar at a ratio of 6% of total flours. The acidity level works as a natural preservative agent. By increasing the acidity of the dough, it effectively extends its shelf life, preventing spoilage. Alternatively, you can also use lemon or orange juice, or even citric acid directly. As someone residing in the southern hemisphere, where Christmas falls in the midst of summer with average temperatures of 31°C (88°F), I find that this recipe, when stored at room temperature, remains fresh for approximately 5 days, and when refrigerated, for about 10 days.
In colder climates, you can expect the shelf life to be at least twice as long. Some individuals opt to utilize potassium sorbate or sorbic acid at a 0.2% concentration to further extend the longevity of these products, potentially up to 15 days. However, personally, I believe that if these treats are prepared for home consumption, there is no need to add chemical agents. They can potentially disrupt your intestinal flora, and prolonged consumption of such agents (as seen in various commercial bread and pastry products) may lead to significant long-term health issues.
Vegan Gluten-Free Xmas Cake Recipe
Great! Now that we have covered all or nearly all the ingredients, it’s time to delve into the recipe for the delightful vegan gluten-free Pan de Pascua. I encourage you to give it a try and savor its flavors with your loved ones. If you have any questions, comments, or constructive feedback, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below. I truly hope you enjoy this culinary experience and create cherished memories with your dear ones.
Vegan Gluten-Free Xmas Cake
- 1 Digital kitchen scale
- 1 Medium-sized pot for preparing the Tangzhong. You can prepare it in advance, see notes above.
- 1 medium or large-sized strainer. Either plastic or stainless steel
- 2 Bowls capable of holding 1.5 kg (3.3 lb) One for dry ingredients and another for liquids.
- 1 Manual whisk. Alternatively, a fork can be used.
- 1 20 cm cake mold that is suitable for holding 1.2 kg of dough. (~3 lb)
- 1 1 kg (2.2 lb) cake paper doily. (optional)
- 1 Rubber spatula
- 180 g Brown rice flour. Or raw rice flour, or white rice flour (they work the same).
- 60 g Cassava starch. (AKA Tapioca)
- 60 g Potato starch.
- 60 g Cornstarch.
- 2 g Sea salt. (equivalent to ⅓ tsp)
- 11 g Baking powder. (equivalent to 2 heaped tsp)
- 4 g Baking soda. Aluminum-free preferably. (about ⅔ tsp)
- 0.5 g Xanthan gum. (Equivalent to about 1/4 tsp)
- 7.3 g Psyllium Husk powder. (Equivalent to about 1 and 1/3 tsp)
- 2 g Cinnamon powder. (Equivalent to 1 level tsp)
- 0.4 g Ground nutmeg. (Equivalent to ⅕ tsp)
- 0.3 g Ground cloves. (Equivalent to ⅕ tsp)
- 0.5 g Ginger powder. (Equivalent to ⅓ tsp)
- 110 g Sugar (or less). Or 130 g of Erythritol or Allulose
- 110 g Tangzhong. See preparation in the post notes above.
- 110 g Flaxseed gel. See preparation in the post notes above.
- 90 g Fruit puree. See options in the post notes.
- 60 g Melted coconut oil. Or a vegetable oil (not so healthy).
- 60 ml Plant-based milk
- 20 ml Apple cider vinegar
- 5 ml Vanilla extract. Equivalent to about 1 tsp.
- 5 ml Xmas Essence Or similar.
Nuts and Dried Fruits
- 60 g Chopped Walnuts
- 60 g Chopped Almonds
- 60 g Over night rum-soaked currants (black raisins). Or soaked in water for at least 2 hours
- 40 g Candied Fruits (Optional). Soaked in water for a couple of hours.
- Before you begin, make sure to have all the ingredients and materials ready (Mise en place). Then, preheat the oven to 200°C (392°F) to start the heating process.
- To prepare the cake mold, start by greasing it with oil and dusting it with a small amount of rice flour. Optionally, you can use a cake doily or parchment paper. Don't forget to grease the inside of the liner or paper to ensure the cake doesn't stick.
- To measure the dry ingredients accurately, position a bowl with a strainer on top of the digital kitchen scale, and then reset the scale to zero before beginning the weighing process.
- Sift all the dry ingredients through the strainer, except for the sugar. After each ingredient, reset the scale to zero to weigh the next one accurately.
- Combine all the dry ingredients (flours, starches, salt, binders, leavening agents, dry spices, and flavorings) thoroughly using a manual whisk.
- In a separate bowl, combine the sugar with the Tangzhong, flax gel, and all the liquid ingredients. Whisk the mixture thoroughly until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Gently pour the dry ingredients over the liquids and mix thoroughly using folding motions.
- Incorporate the nuts, almonds, dried fruits, and soaked raisins (without the soaking water) into the mixture and mix thoroughly. The consistency should be a viscous batter easy to pour into the mold. If the mixture appears too thick, consider adding a bit more liquid. You can use liquid from the soaked fruits, rum from the raisins, or a bit more plant-based milk to achieve the desired consistency. Mix well to ensure everything is well combined.
- Carefully transfer the mixture into the greased mold, then gently tap the mold on the table to eliminate any air bubbles and create a smooth and level surface for the cake.
- Put the cake mold in the preheated oven and bake for about 65 minutes. After placing the mold in the oven, reduce the temperature to 180°C (356°F).
- After 65 minutes, insert a wooden stick into the cake. If it comes out dry, the cake is ready. If not, leave it for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.
- Once the wooden stick comes out dry, turn off the oven and leave the door slightly ajar. Allow the cake to cool inside the oven for about half an hour. Then, carefully remove it from the oven, unmold it, and let it cool on a pastry rack if available.