Ok, so I’m a bit late in sharing the recipe for my Christmas Loaf; I’m guessing the diets have started and the last thing you want to get your chops round is a big juicy, flaky slice of pastry heaven. Are you sure?
This loaf was actually such a hit in the babysteps household that I couldn’t in good conscience consign it to the the list of Christmas time only dishes. It deserves more! So I think this will be baking in my oven any time we have a family occasion…or any day with a ‘y’ in it. Served with some roast spuds, veggies and redcurrant jelly, it’s an ideal replacement for the traditional Sunday roast.
My Mum made me this dish every Christmas Eve (well, the vegetarian version) when I was growing up. The whole family tucked in and then Mum saved a slice for me to have on Christmas day when the rest of the family began the traditional turkey massacre. It comprises an apricot and oatmeal stuffing, layered with creamed spinach and a mixture of carrot and ‘cheese’, all wrapped up in puff pastry. It has evolved over the years to reflect our family tastes – I actually have no idea what the original recipe was like or even where it came from. So, if you don’t like the sound of one of the layers, change it. Only let me know so that I can try your version too!
What you need:
1 packet of Jus Rol puff pastry. (Yes, I’m lazy, I’m the first to admit it)
60g dairy free spread
1 chopped onion
125g white breadcrumbs
juice of half a lemon
90g chopped dried apricots
1 dessert spoon of apple sauce
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
salt and black pepper
I used frozen because my fridge was stuffed full of parsnips and sprouts but of course you could use fresh spinach.
6 blocks of frozen spinach
pinch of nutmeg
1-2 dessert spoons of vegan cream cheese
Carrot and cheese:
3 medium carrots, grated
1/3 of a block of vegan cheese (I used Sheese, strong cheddar style)
What to do:
Preheat your oven to 180c
Roll out the pastry and set aside. In a saucepan melt the ‘butter’ and then fry the onion very gently until soft. You don’t want it to brown, just soften. Add the breadcrumbs and oatmeal and stir thoroughly, add the lemon juice and cook for about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the herbs, apricots and some seasoning. Add the apple sauce to bind together. Place the stuffing on the pastry and spread on to the pastry, leaving a little room around the side.
Heat the spinach until completely thawed. Drain the excess water and add the cream cheese. Mix thoroughly and then add the nutmeg and a little black pepper. Layer this on top of the stuffing and spread it evenly.
Grate the carrots and cheese, mix together and then place this over the spinach layer.
Bring up the sides of the pastry to form the loaf. If you are more talented in the kitchen than I am, play about with lattices and the like. Or, if you’re a tad more ‘rustic’, don’t worry about the shape but just make sure that all of the stuffing layers are encased in the pastry. Chuck it in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the pastry has risen and is golden brown.
Leave to cool for a few minutes before slicing. And enjoy!