I wanted to experiment with chia seeds as an egg substitute. I have been reading a number of articles about the benefits of chia (it’s high in fibre, magnesium, zinc, iron and calcium) and about how it can be used as an egg substitute. I have also had a number of occasions of late where I needed an egg free cake or dessert. Given the Christmas season as well, I decided on a rich fruitcake recipe that uses a lot of eggs. This is one of those cakes that uses a ton of ingredients and the end result is a dark fragrant cake that is studded with chunks of nuts and fruit. Traditionally wrapped into bon bons and handed out at weddings and Christmas parties.
You make an egg substitute out of chia by grinding dry chia seeds to a powder and adding water. 1 tablespoon of chia seeds plus 3 tablespoons of water is equivalent to one egg.
When I added the water to the chia powder it turned into a very sticky gelatinous paste. I added the sugar to this mixture and whipped it for about 5 minutes but it didn’t make any difference to the gelatinous texture. It felt a bit thick to me too, so I added about 6 extra tablespoons of water. You don’t have to do this, but it is an option and it didn’t affect the final result. If you choose to go down this road, I recommend adding the extra water a tablespoon at a time.
I had no other qualms during the rest of the cake making process and I thought the final batter was no different in texture to when I used eggs.
I was pleasantly suprised with my final result. Given the gelatinous nature of the chia mixture I was expecting a rubbery texture to my cake. But when I tested my cake to see if it was done, I was so surprised by how soft it was. I stuck my skewer in a few more times to see if the whole cake felt the same. The pleasant surprises kept on coming. Once the cake was cooked and cut, it looked and tasted no different to the original recipe with egg.
I think the recipe is a definite keeper and now I’ll be able to make my rich fruitcake for my vegetarian friends as well. It’s also a nice cake to cut into bars and wrap with foil and gilt paper, to gift to friends and family as it keeps well.
You can find my recipe with the modifications below.
Eggless Rich Fruitcake
167g red and green glaced cherries
167g of a mixture of dried or glaced pineapple, peaches and pears
167g of glaced or dried apricots
150g of cashewnuts
60g of mixed peal
75g of glaced ginger
100g of ginger and lemon marmalade
25g of self raising flour
25mls of brandy
15mls of almond essence
15mls of rose essence
15mls of vanilla essence
1/2 tsp powdered cardamom
1/2 tsp powdered cinnamon
1/2 tsp powdered clove
1/2 tsp powdered nutmeg
rind of one lemon
1 tsp honey
1tsp brandy (extra)
8 tablespoons of chia seeds ground to a fine powder
24 tablespoons of water
167g butter at room temperature
2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp vinegar
Line a large rectangular (29cm by 46cm) baking tin with 6 layers of newspapers on the base and sides. Add a final layer of baking paper on top of the newspaper.
Chop the raisins, sultanas, ginger and mixed peel finely. Chop the rest of the fruits into bigger pieces (about 5mm by 5mm) as this creates a nice visual texture when you cut the cake. Chop the cashews so that you get an equal mixture of rough and fine pieces. Mix the chopped fruits, nuts and self raising flour together with the brandy and the essences. Leave to soak for at least an hour. You can leave it to soak overnight too. I usually chop the fruits the night before and make the cake in the morning.
Mix the semolina, butter and grated lemon peel until well combined. Powder the chia seeds and add it to a large mixing bowl. Add the water a little at a time, mixing as you go. It will become a gelatinous paste. Add the sugar and beat with an electric mixer until the sugar is dissolved. Beat in the honey, extra brandy and spices.
Add the mixed semolina and butter to the chia mixture and stir until well combined. Then add the combined fruit, nut and flavorings and mix well. The resulting cake batter is stiffer than usual cake batters, so that the fruits don’t sink to the bottom. However, it should not be crumbly. It should all bind together. If you find the resultant mixture crumbly, add a little milk and mix well.
Finally, place the bicarbonate of soda in a little bowl. Hold the bowl over the cake mixture and add the vinegar. Pour the bubbling mixture into the cake batter and mix through evenly.
Spread it into the prepared baking tray and bake in a 130 degree Celsius oven for 2 hours. If you would like a darker cake, leave the cake in the oven for up to another hour. Check on it regularly. Remove cake from the oven when done and leave to cool completely before wrapping in Glad Wrap and storing in a cool place. Store it in the fridge in warm climates, otherwise the butter will melt out of the cake.