Festive Recipes Using South African Raisins

If you are on the lookout for some festive recipes to enjoy in the build-up to the big day, then making them with the addition of South African Raisins will be perfect. The sweetness from the raisins helps to make the recipe complete, and the good news is that they are completely natural. 

The raisins are naturally dried in the sun, in the Western and Northern Cape regions of South African, where high levels of sun are experienced at this time of year. This just makes raisins of the highest quality, perfect to add into a recipe. The raisins to look out for when doing your shopping for making these recipes are:

  • Thompson: this variety are brown to dark brown in colour, and they have a rich and sweet flavour
  • Golden: as the name suggests, they are light yellow to golden in colour with a soft texture
  • Flame: again, as the name hints towards, these are dark deep red/black in colour, and they have a sweet flavour and a chewy texture

Light Fruity Christmas Cake

This Christmas cake recipe seems like it is a love or hate thing in most households, but this is an option that doesn’t take weeks on end to make and ‘stir up.’ It is easy to make, the batter is light, and you don’t have to boil up the fruit. You can make it as a loaf cake in one tin or make mini loaves that could make sweet gifts too. 

INGREDIENTS 

  • 250g butter 
  • 210g caster sugar 
  • 5 free-range eggs 
  • 100g ground almonds 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon 
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger 
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice 
  • 210g flour 
  • 200g dried fruit
  • 80g glace cherries, cut in half or quarters 
  • 60g dates (stoned and roughly chopped) 
  • 100g roughly chopped pecan nuts 
  • 50g blanched almonds 

METHOD 

  1. Preheat the oven to 140 C and line your baking tin with baking paper.
  2. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add each egg one at a time, ensuring the batter is mixed well for the next addition. Scrape the bowl down as you go.
  3. Add all the spices, ground almonds and flour and beat until well combined.
  4. Add the fruit and mix briefly.
  5. Tip into your lined cake tin and bake for 11/2 hours until firm to the touch and when a sharp knife is inserted into the middle it comes out clean. Leave it in for a little longer if necessary. Smaller cakes will bake for a shorter time.
  6. Sprinkle with some brandy, if using, and store tightly wrapped up until you need it.
  7. If you are making this long in advance of Christmas, add more brandy every 2 – 3 weeks.

South African Raisin, Pomegranate, and Apple Strudel

Don’t be put off at the thought of having to make a strudel, as it can be easily made with ready-to-go filo pastry. Then you can just fill with the juicy raisins, ground almonds, apple slices, and pomegranate seeds. It is a perfect festive dessert and works well with custard or cream too.

INGREDIENTS 

  • 80g South African raisins 
  • 1tbsp brandy 
  • Vegetable oil, for greasing 
  • 270g pack frozen filo pastry, thawed (7 sheets) 
  • 80g butter, melted 
  • 2 large eating apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced 
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon 
  • 1tbsp lemon juice 
  • 80g ground almonds 
  • 60g caster sugar 
  • 50g pomegranate seeds 

To decorate: 

  • Rosemary sprigs (optional) 
  • Icing sugar, for dusting 

METHOD 

  1. Put the raisins into a bowl, cover with boiling water and soak for 15 minutes. Drain thoroughly, then add the brandy. Stir well and soak for 1-2 hours, or overnight. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 200°C, fan oven 180°C, Gas Mark 6. Grease a large baking sheet. 
  3. On a work surface, layer 3 sheets of filo pastry on top of each other, brushing each one with melted butter. 
  4. Mix together the apples, lemon zest, lemon juice, ground almonds, caster sugar and pomegranate seeds. Stir in the soaked raisins, along with any brandy that hasn’t been absorbed. Scatter half evenly over the pastry. Place 2 more filo sheets on top, brushing each one with butter. Scatter the rest of the fruit mixture on top as before. Layer two more sheets of pastry on top, brushing each one with butter. 
  5. Carefully roll up the filo pastry from the short end to enclose all the filling, and slide the baking sheet underneath, with the seam of the pastry underneath. Don’t worry if the pastry breaks a little. Brush with the remaining butter. 
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm or cold, topped with rosemary sprigs (if using) and sprinkled with icing sugar. 

Cook’s tips:

  • Slice the apples thinly so that they cook properly.
  • Mix Greek yogurt and lemon zest together to accompany the strudel, or serve with cream, custard, or crème fraiche.

South African Raisin and Apple Mince

I am a sucker for a mince pie! I love to make my own, but usually just go for some shop bought mincemeat filling. This can be used to make your own instead, just use with some ready-made shortcrust or puff pastry for a tasty mince pie over Christmas. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 small Granny Smith apples, washed and grated (include the peel as it is really nutritious) 
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil 
  • 1 large orange zest and juice (about 250ml of juice) 
  • 300g South African sultanas and/or raisins 
  • 1-2 tbsp raw local honey 
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon 
  • 1 tsp ground ginger 
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg 
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves 
  • 60ml water 
  • 2 tbsp brandy (optional) 

METHOD 

  1. Heat a medium sized pot on the stove over a medium to high heat. Melt the coconut oil and fry the apples for a minute to soften. Add the orange zest and juice and mix well. 
  2. Turn down the heat to low. Add the rest of the ingredients – except the brandy. 
  3. Mix everything together, cover and leave to gently simmer for about 20-30 minutes. 
  4. Stir once or twice, but not too often as the raisins can turn to a paste if overworked. It is ready when the raisins are plump and soft. 
  5. Stir through the brandy, adding more if desired. 
  6. Leave to cool, then store in a jar in the fridge. 

Cook’s tip

  • Add 200g crushed walnuts or pecans for a nutty crunchy taste.

It would be great to hear if you give any of these a go. Enjoy the run up to the festive season.

*this is a collaborative post.

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