Yay! It’s Advent….
My son has been counting down to Advent since mid-October. Because we have a tradition of taking time as a family every evening of Advent to read one of the many books we’ve collected over the years, sing a song, and pray, Advent is one of his most favorite times of the year. And with our oldest at college these past two Christmas seasons, it’s meant he gets more turns in the rotation to pick books and songs….
As with my son, the traditions people have are one of the many reasons they look forward to the holidays, and it can be disappointing if a tradition can no longer be held.
I received an email this week from someone whose family always makes stollen for Christmas. Stollen is a traditional German fruit bread. Original stollen is a dry, not sweet yeast bread. Versions one finds in the stores these days tend to be much sweeter, drenched in butter and sugar.
This particular woman has developed sensitivities to wheat and yeast and was wondering if there was a way to make something similar to the stollen of her family traditions. The challenge was to keep the dry texture without being a yeast bread and to make something with no sweetener other than the dried fruit. In the end I created something which had a similar texture to stollen though not the shape.
For the flours, I blended garbanzo bean, sorghum, coconut, and arrowroot. This created the drier, crumbly texture we wanted. For the dried fruit, I opted for dates and raisins because they are always easy to find in the stores. To keep the cake from becoming too dense because of the lack of sugar, I made a “buttermilk” using soy milk and lemon juice and used eggs. Then I added spices – cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves – for flavor. I decided not to top the cake with butter and powdered sugar in favor of making a healthier, no sugar topping, but others can feel free to shake powdered sugar on top instead.
When I served the new creation to tasters, the folks who have had traditional stollen declared it to be similar in taste and texture, so I’m going to call it a success.
For folks who may not eat stollen regularly, this is definitely a dry, not sweet cake. So, don’t make it if you want something dense, moist and sweet. It does go very well with coffee if you drink yours with cream and sugar. I like eating it just as it is.
8 oz pitted whole dates
1 cup raisins
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup boiling water
3 cups of the gluten free flour blend (see below)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup soy milk with 1/2 tbsp lemon juice (can substitute any type of “milk”)
3 tbsp safflower oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup soy milk
2 5-6 inch bananas
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp garbanzo bean flour
2 tbsp coconut flour
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two 9 inch round cake pans with parchment paper.
- Mix the dates and raisins with the baking soda. Chop them up in a food processor to make small pieces which will evenly disperse throughout the stollen.
- Pour the boiling water over the dried fruit, and set it aside.
- Mix the garbanzo bean flour, sorghum flour, arrowroot starch, coconut flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
- Blend the milk with lemon juice with the eggs, safflower oil, and vanilla.
- Combine the dried fruit, dry ingredients, and wet ingredients until everything is moistened and well blended together.
- Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans, and bake for 25-30 minutes until the cakes are puffed, golden, pulling away from the sides of the pan, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Depending on your stove, you may want to set the timer for 20 minutes and keep checking.)
- When the cakes are done, cool for about five minutes in the pans, and then removed them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
- In a food processor or blender, puree the bananas with the milk. Stir in the cinnamon, garbanzo bean flour and coconut flour. (The 4 tbsp of flour makes for a thick, spreadable topping. If you want a thinner, runnier “sauce”, reduce each of the flours by half.)
- Over a double boiler (I use a make-shift one by fitting one pan into a second one) heat the milk mixture, stirring constantly, until it begins to thicken. Spread over the cakes and enjoy. (If you don’t want the topping, just shift powdered sugar over the tops of the cakes while they are still warm. This will make for sweet version of the stollen.)