Vegan Christmas cake – a rich, moist and boozy vegan fruit cake that is perfect for the festive season. Eat right away or make in advance and feed regularly with rum or brandy.
Fruit cake is a bit of a divisive one; I know that a lot of people aren’t keen on it, but I absolutely love it and Christmas for me wouldn’t be the same without a boozy, fruity cake to nibble on throughout the holidays.
I have blogged a couple of fruitcake recipes before, but neither of them are vegan so I was keen to come up with a vegan version that is just as good.
I tested seven (yes, seven!) different vegan fruit cakes until I came up with a recipe that I was happy with. The final version is fruitcake perfection (at least I think so anyway!). It is moist and dense, packed with boozy fruit, and full of flavour.
The dried fruit is soaked in rum (or your spirit of choice) to make it plump and flavourful. It needs to be soaked at least overnight so do make sure that you start this cake the day before you want to bake it. The fruit can be left to soak for up to a week – I gave mine three days.
The boozy fruit is stirred into a thick batter made flavourful with dark brown sugar, treacle, spices, almonds and orange and lemon zest.
I tested various different fats while developing this vegan Christmas cake, and found that the versions made with dairy free margarine were superior in both taste and texture to those made with coconut oil or sunflower oil, so that is what I have used for this recipe.
Softened coconut oil will work if you would rather use that, but I found that it yielded a cake with a more crumbly texture, and a slightly blander flavour, so if you do use it, make sure that you also add in a good pinch of salt.
Instead of eggs, this recipe uses red wine vinegar and bicarbonate of soda to provide lift. Vinegar and bicarb is my favourite egg replacer to use in cakes; I did do a couple of tests that used flax eggs instead, but I found the texture a little too crumbly.
This vegan Christmas cake is delicious freshly baked, but it can also be made up to six weeks in advance and stored, well wrapped, in an airtight container. Drizzle over a couple of tablespoons of rum or brandy every week or two, alternating top and bottom of the cake, until you are ready to ice it (if you choose to decorate it). But don’t feed it for a week before icing it in order to give the surface a chance to dry out.
How To Decorate:
I was going to decorate the cake before photographing it, but I couldn’t decide how I wanted to ice it so in the end I just left it plain.
Traditionally, Christmas cakes are covered in a layer of marzipan (brush the cake with warm apricot jam before covering so that the marzipan sticks.) then a layer of either royal icing or fondant. Most shop-bought marzipan and fondant is vegan, though do check the packet of course, and you can make vegan royal icing by swapping the egg white for aquafaba.
Once the vegan Christmas cake is iced, you can add decorations as you wish – I like to keep things simple and just pile some gingerbread star biscuits in various sizes on top. Check out my gingerbread topped Christmas cake recipe for inspiration.
To make a vegan version, simply swap the butter in the gingerbread for dairy free margarine or coconut oil, and follow the recipe for vegan royal icing from my Tombstone cupcakes to ice the biscuits with.
How To Make Vegan Christmas Cake:
You need to start preparing the fruit at least the day before you want to bake the cake.
Mix all of the dried fruits together in a large bowl that has a lid, add the rum, stir well, then cover and leave overnight (or for up to a week – give it an occasional stir).
Grease a deep 20cm/8inch round cake tin and line it with a double layer of baking parchment. Because the cake takes a while to bake the extra layer of parchment helps to stop it from burning.
In a large bowl, whisk together dairy free margarine (or softened coconut oil), dark and light brown sugars, treacle and orange and lemon zest until fluffy.
In a separate bowl, sift together plain flour, ground almonds, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice (pumpkin spice), cinnamon and nutmeg.
Tip the dry ingredients into the margarine mix, along with some plant milk and red wine vinegar and stir until just combined; the batter should be very thick.
Stir in the soaked dried fruits, along with any leftover liquid, and some chopped almonds.
Scrape the batter into the prepared tin and use a spatula to spread it level. Because it is so thick it doesn’t spread much in the oven so it is important that you get it as even as you can.
Bake for 2-3 hours until a skewer comes out clean, mine took 2 1/2 hours. Leave the cake to cool in the tin on a wire rack then turn it out and brush all over with rum or brandy.
Wrap it up in baking parchment then tin foil and store in an airtight container, feeding every week or two with rum or brandy, for up to six weeks.
You can vary the types of dried fruit that you add to suit your own tastes (I know quite a few mixed peel haters!), as long as you keep the same overall weight – a total of 660g. Chopped dried dates, figs and apricots all work well, and you could even add dried cherries, blueberries or pineapple.
To make this vegan Christmas cake alcohol free, soak the fruit in the same quantity of orange juice. Bear in mind that if you aren’t feeding it with alcohol then the cake won’t keep for as long, so bake it the same week that you want to serve it.
Vegan Christmas Cake
- 125 g (4.5oz) raisins
- 125 g (4.5oz) sultanas
- 125 g (4.5oz) currants
- 100 g (3.5oz) dried cranberries
- 100 g (3.5oz) mixed candied peel
- 85 g (3oz) glace cherries halved
- 100 ml (1/3 cup + 1Tbsp + 1tsp) rum or brandy
- 175 g (2/3 cup + 1Tbsp) dairy free margarine
- 125 g (2/3 cup) dark brown soft sugar
- 50 g (1/3 cup) light brown soft sugar
- 30 g (one rounded Tbsp) treacle (or molasses)
- finely grated zest of 1 large orange
- finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
- 340 g (2 + 3/4 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 35 g (1/4 cup) ground almonds
- 3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp mixed spice (pumpkin spice)
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 120 ml (1/2 cup) unsweetened soy milk (or other unsweetened non-dairy milk)
- 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 60 g (2oz) almonds chopped
- rum or brandy for feeding
Start preparing the fruit at least the day before you want to bake the cake.
Mix all of the dried fruits together in a large bowl that has a lid, add the rum, stir well, then cover and leave overnight (or for up to a week - give it an occasional stir).
The following day, preheat the oven to 140C/275F/gas mark 1. Grease a deep 20cm/8inch round cake tin and line it with a double layer of baking parchment.
In a large bowl, whisk together the dairy free margarine (or softened coconut oil), dark and light brown sugars, treacle and orange and lemon zest until fluffy.
In a separate bowl, sift together the plain flour, ground almonds, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Tip the dry ingredients into the margarine mix, along with the soy milk and red wine vinegar. Stir until just combined; be careful not to over-mix. The batter should be very thick.
Stir in the soaked dried fruits, along with any leftover liquid, and the chopped almonds.
Scrape the batter into the prepared tin and use a spatula to spread it level. Because it is so thick it doesn't spread much in the oven so it is important that you get it as even as you can.
Bake for 2-3 hours until a skewer comes out clean; mine took 2 1/2 hours. Leave the cake to cool in the tin on a wire rack then turn it out and brush all over with rum or brandy.
Wrap the cake up in baking parchment then tin foil, and store in an airtight container, feeding every week or two with rum or brandy, for up to six weeks.