Vegan Walnut & Cacao Romanian Christmas Loaf
To be perfectly honest, christmas is not a big deal to me. My family never really celebrated it and for the most part I think its a money making commercial scheme. I have always been kind of irritated by christmas, even as a little girl. I can not stand the repetitive christmas carols and I actually just hate gifts. Gift giving and receiving is one of the most awkward things I can think of. I’m not an overly material person and I am always so afraid that my expression when I am receiving something is not “thankful enough” and people will get offended. Pretty much the only thing I like about christmas is time off work and cooking christmas themed stuff. Especially cookies ( you all know how much I love cookies). I am sorry I sound like such a grinch but it is the way I feel. I have been very teased for not liking christmas especially as a child and I really tried to make the most of christmas and get into the “christmas spirit” and it just never works. I don’t get what all the fuss is about. And before anyone comments on “the true meaning of christmas and the birth of Jesus” all I can say is that I am a Christian and most Christians should know (but don’t) that Jesus was definitely not born on the 25th of December! This renders the whole thing meaningless to me. We are actually celebrating a very very old winter traditional holiday from way before the time of Jesus which has a lot more to do with worshiping the sun than the birth of Jesus.
One year we ended up in Romania for Christmas and I have to say Christmas in winter in Romania was much better, at least it was in my family. There were no gifts save giving a little money to children which they are encouraged to save or spend on what they like. Plus you can enjoy all the winter activities that christmas is associated with like the snow, snow sleds, ice skating, roasted chestnuts and cozing up inside near the fire place with hot chocolate. It gets dark so quickly in winter that the christmas lights actually help to lift the mood of the entire town and create an atmosphere of celebration and not of depressing winter cold ( which is what January and February feel like). Christmas is a much more natural experience there where people just get together and share food and company without the commercial aspect or the pressure of buying gifts and hanging out in very stressful tense family gatherings. Its much more a celebration of all the beautiful things about winter and not about all the other weird christmas stuff that just make no sense to me.There were of course some very strange Orthodox customs with goats and pigs that were kind of creepy but thankfully my family had nothing to do with things like that! And of course there are some traditional christmas desserts that I think are pretty special.
So now that I have finally finished my vent ( sorry guys) we can get on to this cake. This recipe is based on a very old traditional winter sweet loaf called “cozonac” it can be made in a few different flavours but the walnut chocolate one has always been my favourite. I am sure it is also a common dessert in many other parts of Europe as well. I watched some videos on how the dessert was made and let me tell you it is a very time consuming process and one of the most difficult desserts I have ever seen being made. Considering that I wanted to modify the recipe so that it was vegan and free of refined flour and sugar I knew that it would not turn out anything like the original and I was not about to go through the same painstaking process of making this dessert in the traditional way, especially since I pride myself in making the desserts on my blog as easy as possible. So I improvised. To any Romanians reading this please do not expect this to be anything like a traditional cozonac. Personally I think it is very similar if not identical in taste but the texture is completely different. Cozonac is very very light and fluffy. This cake is dense and heavy but still delicious in its own right. I have simplified the process as much as I possibly could.
|Vegan Walnut & Cacao Romanian Christmas Loaf|| |
- 4 cups whole meal spelt flour
- 5 TBSP grape seed oil
- 300ml water
- ⅓ cup coconut sugar
- zest and juice of ½ lemon
- zest and juice of ½ orange
- 1¼ tsp active dry yeast
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- CACAO WALNUT FILLING:
- 1½ cup walnuts
- ⅓ cup coconut sugar
- 2 TBSP cacao powder
- drop of rum essence
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 TBSP wholemeal spelt flour
- ½ cup water
- Sift your spelt flour into a large bowl to get rid of any of the gritty parts.
- Add in all the rest of the loaf ingredients and mix together with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together into a wet dough.
- Leave to rise covered for about 2 hours until the mixture has doubled in size.
- After it has risen the dough should be elastic but if you find that it is still too wet, keep adding flour until you get a consistency that is easy to knead.
- Knead for about 10 minutes on a floured surface.
- Roll out in to a rectangle with a rolling pin no longer than the size of the loaf tin you are going to use and about 1 - 1.5 cm thick.
- For the walnut filling add all the filling ingredients into a food processor. Add your water slowly until a paste consistency is formed. You may not need all the water.
- Once your walnut paste has formed, spread out evenly on your dough with a spatula or butter knife leaving a little space around the margins
- Carefully roll the dough into a cylinder shape and transfer into a lightly greased or lined loaf tin. You may need to squeeze it in slightly.
- Bake for about 40 - 45 minutes about 170C or until a tooth pick comes out clean. ( please note baking times will vary depending on your oven so keep an eye on your loaf)
- Allow to cook slightly before serving. Works really as a breakfast slice as well.