This year I ordered organic crocus bulbs. I have always wanted to grow my own saffron. Marigolds and Calendula are a poor substitute. I planted them in large pot and moved them indoors for the winter to prevent the squirrels from digging them up. They are up and I look forward to flowers soon.
This is one of my favorite cakes. Moist, dense, flavorful and loaded with fruit. A much better version of the traditional “fruit cake” that is purchased at Christmas time. It will remind you of the many of traditional European cakes and breads that we associate with this time of year. Meant to sit or last a long time, I store mine in the refrigerator for later snacking. You can also toast it with butter for breakfast. I love the tradition of baking cakes in tin cans or clay pots. After baking and before serving I soaked my fruit cake in a syrup.
Christmas Fruit Cake
In a large bowl mix together……….
1 cup of brown rice flour
1/2 cups of ground almond or hazelnut flour
1 and 1/2 tsp of baking powder
1/4 tsp of baking soda
1/4 tsp of salt
1/8 tsp of powdered cardamon
1/2 tsp powdered fennel seed
In medium bowl use an electric hand mixer to cream together…..
1/4 cup of vegetable shortening with
1/2 cup of sugar
Add in 1 large egg. Beat until light and fluffy.
In a small bowl add…
1 TBSP of grated orange peel
1/4 cup of orange juice
1/4 cup of hot water
1/8 tsp of saffron threads
5 drops of tangerine essential oil
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients alternately. Blending well after each addition.
3 TBSP of dried currants
3 TBSP of finely chopped candied ginger
3 TBSP of finely chopped dried appricot
3 TBSP of finely chopped dried figs
3 TBSP of finely chopped dried cranberries
Once mixed well, turn into a well greased and floured 2 LB coffee or baby formula can. For ease in cake removal-use a can opener to remove both ends of the can. Insert one end to be the “bottom” of your baking container. A circle of parchment paper would not be a bad idea for the bottom either.
Once filled cover the top of the can with 6 paper towels.
Set in the bottom of a dry crockpot. Cover with the lid and cook on high for 2-3 hours. Until a tooth pick comes out clean and the cake looks done. This is a dense cake with not much rise.
Let cake cool. Run a knife around the sides of the can. Place the can on a flat surface, use a wooden spoon to hold the cake down while you slide the can up and off with your other hand.
Soak generously with the floral or fruit syrup of your choice. I had a homemade black currant syrup in the refrigerator.
I am waiting for my saffron to bloom. I will post a photo with this post in about 1 month.
Saffron is the stigmas from the Crocus sativus plant. This plant is cultivated in many countries and can be easily grown in US gardens. In the early spring an onion like corm sends up several thin, long leaves from its base. The grey/green leaves have hairy edges. and are surrounded by a tubular sheath. In late summer each corm produces 3-4 funnel shaped lilac flowers. It has long red style, 3 yellow stamens and 3 yellow stigmas.
Saffron thought to be a nervous system tonic. While not common in the West it does show up in Ayurvedic and Tibetan medicine. It helps to calm and regulate many things in the body. Historically small doses have been used for cough, fever, asthma, shock, childhood illnesses, stomach cramps, depression, high cholesterol, insomnia, to increase circulation and as a sedative. This herb is thought to support the liver, digestion and cool heat disorders. Externally it can be used to treat pain and bruises. Saffron is the worlds most expensive spice and a common yellow dye. Saffron compounds are currently being scientifically researched to treat Covid 19 symptoms. This idea comes from an ancient Egyptian medicine containing saffron that is still in use today.
Parts Used:stigmas from flowers
Flavor:bitter, sweet, pungent
Spiritual/Energetic Uses: Closes the gates to the channels/meridians.
Contraindications/Caution-can be poisonous and cause kidney damage. A powerful narcotic that can be lethal. Avoid all but the smallest doses. Do not use long term or during pregnancy. Use only under the supervision of an expert practitioner.