On her journey to the festive Gastein Valley, Alexandra Meissnitzer not only met the Krampus carver, Clemens Hübsch, but also the organic herb farmer and TEM-practitioner, Resi Schafflinger. For her visit, Resi Schafflinger prepared two traditional Advent specialties, which, at second glance, turned out to be real superfoods: a punch made of black elderberries and a typical Gasteiner fruitcake served with cheese. In the Alps, elders are said to have magic potency: ghosts allegedly live in them and whoever passes by has to raise the hat. That’s how manifold its uses and virtues are. A true powerhouse, however, is the fruitcake: it combines the autumnal harvest from the farmer’s orchard with dried pears and plums.
Recipe „Gasteiner Fruitcake“ (Ingredients for 2 cakes)
Time needed including resting time: 2 days:
- Assortment of fruit, resp. stuffing: (prepared the day before)
- 500 g dried pear, to be soaked in water, finely chopped
- 250 g prunes
- 250 g figs
- 100 g raisins
- 100 g walnuts
- 150 g hazelnuts
- 100 ml fruit brandy or Rum
- Spices: ½ tsp. cinnamon, ½ tsp. ground cloves, 1 tsp. gingerbread seasoning
- Juice and zest from 1 lemon and the zest from one orange
Chop or cut into strips the soaked pears, prunes and figs. The nuts can be left in their original shape or minced. Mix all the remaining ingredients, heat over the alcohol and mix in. Cover the mixture well and allow to infuse over night.
Ingredients for the bread dough:
- 500 g rye flour
- 500 g wheat flour
- ½ yeast cube or 1 sachet of dried yeast
- 1 tsp. sugar, 1 tbsp. salt, 1 tbsp. bread seasoning (fennel, coriander, cumin)
- ¼ litre buttermilk, ca. ½ litre water (luke-warm)
Prepare the bread dough the following day and let it rise for one hour.
There are 2 ways of continuing:
- Knead the bread dough with the fruit mixture, and form the dough into buns or loaves, or
- Knead 2/3 of the bread dough with the fruit mixture and roll the remaining 1/3 and use it to coat the buns.
Let the bread rise for another 20 minutes and bake it in the preheated oven at 200°C for ca. 15 minutes, then bake it for another hour at 180°C. If there is no coat, cover the fruitcake with backing paper as soon as it has the desired colour, so that the fruits don’t burn.
In the Gastein Valley, the fruitcake is served with ripe alp cheese. It is also very tasty with butter. During wintertime in SalzburgerLand, the fruitcake is served in the afternoon as an alternative to coffee and cake. Some eat it for breakfast, or in the evening, or they pack it for a winter hike or a ski tour.
Non-Alcoholic Elderberry Punch
Ingredients for 1 litre:
- 750 ml water
- ½ cinnamon bark
- 3 cloves
- 1 natural lemon, cut into slices
- 1 natural orange, cut into slices
Boil up the ingredients in water and allow to infuse for 15 minutes. Strain the spices through a sieve, add 250 ml of elderberry syrup. Quickly warm the punch.
If you want to make the elderberry syrup yourself, you need to harvest ripe berries in the summer: they are juiced with the help of a steam juicer and sweetened at discretion. Bring to a boil and bottle the liquid as long as it’s hot, seal the bottle.