Gluten Free, Vegan Christmas Cake

Gluten Free, Vegan Christmas Cake

This Gluten Free, Vegan Christmas Cake is a rich, dense fruit cake full of deep, warming flavours and not only great as a traditional Christmas cake but is great for any celebration including birthday cake, Christening cake, wedding cake… The list is endless. I have made this lots of times for many events and apart from ‘I can’t believe the cake is… gluten free… vegan…‘ there are always complements on the flavour and texture.

Allergy Information – Gluten Free, Vegan Christmas Cake

Gluten Free, Vegan Christmas Cake is gluten-free and vegan as well as… celery free, coconut free, garlic free, lupin free, mustard free, nightshade free, onion free, peanut free, sesame free, soya free, tree nut free*.

*For tree nut free do not use nuts.

Top Tips – Gluten Free, Vegan Christmas Cake

You can be really flexible with the type of fruit you use. You can even add chopped nuts and mixed peel – as long as the total weight is 1250 grams.

This Christmas Cake is super easy and super tasty. You can make this cake up to three months in advance (or more) before eating or decorating and the cake also freezes well. Once made (if you are using alcohol) you can feed it with alcohol once every two weeks to keep it moist – sherry, triple sec and brandy work well. Although the flavours and textures will mature on storage, the cake still tastes great the day it is baked.

This recipe will make one 22 cm square cake or 24 cm round cake. If you would like a smaller cake just half the recipe and cook for approximately two hours.

Once you have made your Gluten Free, Vegan Christmas Cake โ€“ Decorate it! Make it as simple or as complex as you like!

Some of the ingredients in this key Christmas recipe are some of my core store cupboard essentials. Gluten-free flour blend and dried fruit are key to great baking. Always great to have on hand! Find out what else is on my regular shopping list with my FREE Store Cupboard Essentials Cheat Sheet. Get it now! Just click the button below, sign-up and download.

Recipe – Gluten Free, Vegan Christmas Cake

Difficulty easy to medium
Serves lots – depends on the size of the slices
Preparation time 30 mins
Cooking time 3 hours (excluding time to soak fruit overnight)

Ingredients – Gluten Free, Vegan Christmas Cake

1250 grams (1.25 kg) dried fruit (I used 500 grams sultanas, 200 grams currants, 200 grams chopped dried dates, 200 grams dried cranberries, 150 grams chopped glace cherries)
500 millilitres dry sherry (or black tea – normal tea or redbush both work well – if making an alcohol free cake)
250 grams vegan margarine at room temperature
180 grams unrefined sugar
6 tablespoons molasses
500 grams gluten free plain flour blend
1 teaspoon baking powder
250 millilitres dairy free milk (e.g. almond, hemp, soya – but not soya if making a soya free cake)
2 tablespoons mixed spice
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Optional: alcohol (e.g. sherry, triple sec, brandy) to ‘feed’ the cake before decorating

Method – Gluten Free, Vegan Christmas Cake

1. Put the dried fruit in a bowl and add the sherry (or tea) and leave covered overnight in the fridge
2. Preheat oven to 150 C (fan) or gas mark 2 and grease and line the baking tin with greaseproof paper. When lining the sides make sure that the liner is around double the height of the baking tin. This will provide some protection to the cake as it is in the oven for a long time
3. Cream together the margarine and sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy (an electric whisk is good for this)
4. Fold in the molasses, flour, dairy free milk, mixed spice and nutmeg until well combined
5. Stir in the soaked fruit and any sherry left in the bowl until evenly mixed
6. Pour the mixture into the lined and greased tin (square 22 cm, round 24 cm, ). (If you don’t plan to ice you can top the cake with flaked almonds at this stage)
7. Bake at 150 C or gas mark 2 for approximately three hours (until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean). Check the cake after two and a half hours
8. Allow to cool and remove from the tin
9. If you wish to store the cake to mature and feed with alcohol wrap the cake in two layers of greaseproof paper and two layers of tin foil and in a cake tin or somewhere where it won’t get knocked! Keep it somewhere cool.
10. If you are going to feed the cake with alcohol add 4-6 tablespoons (or as much as the cake will take every two weeks or so. Prick the cake with a skewer to make small holes for the alcohol to soak in. Store until you are ready to decorate (upcoming!!!)
11. The cake will keep for months if it is well wrapped in two layers of greaseproof paper (laid out at 90 degrees to one another – see picture), two layers of foil (laid out at 90 degrees to one another). Remember to store it somewhere cool and dry.

32 thoughts on “Gluten Free, Vegan Christmas Cake”

  • I don’t have a scale. Could you translate your recipe to cups, or would it be too difficult. I’d love to try this recipe!

    • Hi Darlene, thanks for getting in touch.
      I hope you do try the recipe!
      The density of ingredients varies so much that I find that using cups works doesn’t work well. Measuring by weight is much more accurate and replicable, especially for baking.
      You can get electronic scales for around $10 online – a worthwhile investment for baking and cooking.
      If you would like a rough guide for conversions I have a free download, you can sign up here:
      Best wishes,
      Julia ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Hi Julia
    Thank you for making this beautiful recipe available.
    I substituted dried apricots, pineapple, figs for the fruit and added chopped walnuts.
    One of our family detests sultanas etc…
    Molasses is the champion ingredient……(in my opinion)
    Rich and decadent…AMAZEBALLS!!!
    Everyone loved it….my vegan son was especially impressed with the high quality of this cake given there are no eggs in it.
    CONGRATULATIONS ๐Ÿ™‚ you deserve a medal.

    • Hey Joyce!!!
      Thank you so much. I’m so glad you loved the recipe.
      The beauty of the recipe is that you can add/ remove fruit and nuts you love/ hate!!! And (try to) make a cake everyone loves…
      I’m really glad you and your family loved the cake! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • When you say half the ingredients for a smaller cake, what size tin would that need. Iโ€™d like to try the recipe but donโ€™t need such a large cake.

    • Hi Sue,
      I would go for a round cake tin with a diameter of 15 cm (6 inches).
      You could also use a muffin tin/ cases for mini-cakes. If you do this reduce the cooking time – check after 90 minutes.
      Julia ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hi Rachel!
      Good question!
      Fruitcake will keep for a long time (months or even years) – if wrapped correctly and stored in a cool, dark place.
      That goes for cake made with and without alcohol. Though if you store it for more than a few months you may notice changes in flavour and texture. You might also notice some yeast or mould growth which is usually harmless).
      If it smells and tastes okay, it’s usually okay!
      Alcohol works as a preservative so you’ll see less of the changes in flavour and texture with than a cake made and/ or soaked without alcohol.
      If you’re planning on making your cake this weekend, your cake will be fine until well after Christmas (as long as it’s wrapped and stored correctly).
      I hope that helps!

  • Hi,
    Could I just ask, what would be a UK substitute for Molasses please?
    Am I right in assuming it to be Black Treacle?
    Great sounding recipe xx

    • Hi Jennifer!
      Thanks for getting in touch.
      Molasses is totally a UK ingredient – you can get it in Holland and Barret and other health food stores or black treacle works too (it’s essentially a slightly more refined version of molasses!).
      I hope you like the cake – let me know how you get on.
      Julia ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Thanks Julia.
        I’ve not tried this cake just yet but I plan on making it for this Christmas.
        As an experienced ‘traditional baker’ who was vegetarian, I have loved this last 18 months of going back to the beginning and learning all about vegan baking, since becoming vegan last February.
        I have had more failures than I can remember but it’s all been so much fun!

        • You’re welcome Jen! I hope you like the cake!!! I also use this recipe to make all sorts of celebration cakes (weddings, Christenings, birthday) and it keeps really well too. You’re totally right, failure is part of the fun. Without failure we wouldn’t learn. Happy baking Jen! x

  • Thanks so much for this, i canโ€™t bake to save my life but really wanted to make a cake for my little allergy babies first birthday!!!! Everyone loved this, even those without allergies and they couldnโ€™t tell the difference!!! Plus it tasted great, which for someone like me who cant bake , was a miracle

    • Hi Emma! Thank you for the wonderful feedback. I’m so happy to hear this. You can bake!!! I hope this gives you the confidence to bake some more. xxxx

  • Hi.
    I was wondering if I could just use non-gluten-free flour (ie. regular flour) as I don’t have any allergies or intolerances.
    Would this react the same way in the recipe?
    Thank you x

    • Hi Jen,
      I think it would work to sub the gluten-free flours with ‘normal’ flour.
      I haven’t tried it but it should work, you may have to tinker with the flour quantities to get the right cake batter consistency (slightly runnier than traditional cake batter).
      Let me know how it works out!
      Julia x

  • Hi there. Just soaking the dried fruit and will make the cake tomorrow. Just a question – do you really mean 2 tablespoons of mixed spice. Looking at other recipes they all suggest 2 teaspoons so wanted to make sure this is not a typo! Thank you.

  • I have made the cake – and iIbelieve I followed the instructions carefully. I used a 24″ round tin. The mixture filled the tins so was very deep.
    I cooked it for 4 hours one evening – sticking a knife in it was obviously still soft inside so I turned off the oven and went to bed, leaving the cake in the over to cook in the cooling heat.
    In the morning i took it out of the tin ready to wrap in foil and discovered that the underneath was still raw.
    It went back in the oven,, this time upside down,, and finally after another 2 hours the underside and middle were finally cooked.

    So am just flagging up that the cooking time may well be much longer than described.
    This has always been my experience with every recipe i use, so wasn’t surprised.

    I am just hoping the outsides will not be too hard. Will sog it up a lot with feeding it brandy over the next few weeks!

    • Hi Belinda!
      Thanks for the feedback.
      Oven temperatures can vary so much and that matters so much more when baking for longer periods of time – it makes testing the cake super important.
      Baking a Christmas Cake can be rather time consuming!!!
      Brandy is a great choice to feed your cake. I love feeding my cakes with dry sherry or orange liqueur (they’re always in the cupboard!).
      I hope you love the cake!

  • I also halved the recipe and chose to use cherry juice instead of alcohol. I substituted the sugar with Stevia. The texture and flavour is lovely and you wouldn’t know it was vegan gluten-free. Mine sunk in the middle after it was removed from the oven. I may need to keep it in longer next time. Next time I will try using olive oil rather than margarine for a healthier option. Thank you for this fantastic recipe. I think I have a new festive season favourite!

    • Thanks Fiona!
      Cherry juice instead of alcohol is a great idea. I often leave cakes to cool in the oven. Switch it off and wait till it cools. This should help with any sinking.
      Enjoy your festivities,
      Julia x

  • Hi
    I am grain free as well as gluten and sugar free, and was wondering if I could use almond flour instead of the regular gluten free flour mix?
    Would I need to add xanthum gum, or anything else? It looks really good, and simple to make

    • Hi Anne,
      I think almond flour could work but it might be quite heavy. Perhaps lighten it with another grain-free flour such as tapioca or chestnut flours (or a blend).
      I wouldn’t use xanthan gum.
      Let me know how it works out!
      Julia x

  • what can i use instead of margarine i really would like to ry this but cant have nargaraien and such like – could i use falx seed meal or chia seed meal or apple suace or marnalade or coconut oil or……

    • Hi Nixter!
      I think coconut oil would work (as it is solid at room temperature in the same way margarine is). Not sure how it would affect the taste though.
      Other non-flavoured oils would probably work too.
      I’d be interested to know how it works out for you.
      Julia x

      • HI JULIA
        I made it today – i made 1/4 the amonunt in case coocnut oiil didnt work – so i subbed the margeerine for coocunut oil – i used far less sugar than in the recioe, – fruit wise i used figs, raisins, dates, apricot , orange peel, and fresh cranberries ,and i added some walnuts too- i also changed the flour to half gluten free floiur mix and 1/2 almond flour – other than that followed to it to the letter – lol! i coooked for about and hour and a bit ! it worked perfectly ! its banging ! i think next time ( as it won’t last long !!!) i will use even less sugar to be honest – i soaked the fruit in tea and 2 tbsp brandy – thank yoooooo! now to exercise to work it all off !!!!!

        • Yey Nixter!!!
          That sounds great. I’m so glad you love it and subbing the coconut oil worked.
          I’m all for less sugar too. Often the fruit alone will be enough. It very much depends on what we’re used to.
          Happy 2020!
          Julia x

  • Hi – I’ve just made this cake today and was a wee bit worried that’s it’s taking quite a bit longer than the 3 hours. I substituted the sherry for brandy as I could find a vegan sherry in New Zealand at my local shops. Would using brandy to soak the fruit make any big difference in cooking time? I hope the sides don’t dry out while I try and get the middle cooked

    • Hi Ali!
      All ovens are different so I wouldn’t worry it’s taking longer. As long as the skewer or knife comes out clean, it’s fine. I always use a high wall of grease-proof paper around the sides to protect the edges.
      Brandy is great. Any strong alcohol works. Triple sec is pretty good too.
      Happy Christmas!
      Julia x

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