Gluten free vegan Christmas cake - no one needs to miss out with this delicious Christmas cake recipe as it is free from eggs, dairy and gluten!
It is easy to make, moist, rich and delicious. It can be eaten right away or made in advance and matured.
Every year I get lots of people asking me whether my popular vegan Christmas cake recipe can be made gluten-free.
The answer is no. The resulting cake somewhat resembles a sand castle in structure; as in it disintigrates rather than slices.
The truth is that it is quite tricky to make a fruit cake that is both eggless AND gluten-free. Fruit cake is a fairly crumbly cake anyway, so take away both of those binding ingredients and you will end up with a sandy mess.
With some testing and a few clever ingredient substitutions however, I have come up with a version that does work both vegan and gluten-free.
It is perfectly moist, rich and Christmassy; just as good as a regular fruit cake, and simple to make too.
It tastes great right away, but can also be made in advance and fed with alcohol every week or two to make it extra rich.
What Do I Need To Make Gluten-Free Vegan Christmas Cake?:
Gluten free flour or oat flour: I have tested this cake with both a plain gluten-free flour blend (Doves Farm Freee), and home-made oat flour. Both versions work well. See instructions below to make your own oat flour.
(The cake in the photos was made with oat flour).
Silken tofu: This helps to keep the cake lovely and moist and also helps to bind. You need to use silken tofu, not regular tofu. It is usually the shelf-stable kind rather than the kind found in the fridge. I use Mori-Nu or Clearspring.
I haven't tested any substitutes for the tofu. Vegan yogurt might work but I can't say for sure so try it at your own risk.
Chickpea flour: Also known as gram flour or besan. It works as a binder, helping to hold the cake together. Do not substitute this ingredient.
Ground almonds: These give the cake a lovely texture and help to keep it moist. In the US use almond flour.
I don't recommend substituting the almonds for flour, the resulting cake will likely be too dry.
Xanthan gum: Another binder. Xanthan gum is a very common ingredient in gluten-free baking to help reduce crumbling. You cannot omit it.
Butter: For the best results you need to use a vegan block butter, not the spreadable kind which has too high a water content for baking. I like Naturli Vegan Block or Flora Plant Butter.
Sugar: You need to use either soft brown or muscovado sugar, part dark, part light. You can use all of one or the other but bear in mind it will change the colour and flavour of the cake.
Do not swap the brown sugar for any other kind of sugar, liquid sugar or sweetener.
Treacle: Molasses will also work.
Milk: Any unsweetened non-dairy milk will work but soy is best for baking.
Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda): Don't use baking powder instead, they are not the same.
Vinegar: This reacts with the bicarb to help the cake rise. You can use cider, white wine or red wine vinegar. If you can't have vinegar use lemon juice instead.
Spices: Mixed spice, cinnamon and nutmeg. In the US you can use apple pie spice instead of the mixed spice. Feel fee to add a bit of extra spice if you want, such as cloves, anise, cardamom or ginger.
Orange and lemon: Adding the zest of an orange and a lemon adds lots of flavour.
Dried fruits: I specify which ones I use in the recipe but feel free to mix it up as long as you stick to the same overall weight (660g). Chopped dried apricots, figs and dates all work well. Or go fancy and add dried cherries, blueberries or pineapple!
Alcohol: Rum, whisky, brandy, amaretto or sherry all work. I use rum. You will need some to soak the fruit in and some to feed the cake.
How To Make Gluten-Free Vegan Christmas Cake:
(Full measurements and instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the page)
The day before you want to bake the cake (and up to a week in advance), mix together the dried fruits and the alcohol in a tub with a lid. Give them a stir every now and again to ensure that they are evenly coated.
The following day, blend the silken tofu, milk and vinegar, either in a blender or in a jug with a stick blender (I use a stick blender).
In a large bowl, whisk together the vegan butter, dark and light brown sugars, treacle and orange and lemon zest until fluffy.
Whisk the xanthan gum, bicarbonate of soda, spices and a pinch of salt into the butter mixture.
Add the gluten-free flour or oat flour, ground almonds, chickpea flour and the tofu mixture and mix to a smooth, thick batter.
Fold in the soaked fruit, along with any juices, and the chopped almonds.
Transfer the batter to the tin and spread it level. Use the back of a wet spoon to smooth the top.
Bake for 2 hours 45 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
I have not provided US cup conversions as they are too inaccurate for this recipe. Please use a scale.
For the best results follow the recipe closely and make it exactly as written. Changing any of the ingredients could affect the outcome of the cake. I cannot comment on how any substitutions will work so any changes to the recipe must be done at your own risk.
To get clean slices, use a very sharp serrated knife and cut the cake with a sawing motion rather than pressing straight down.
Lining the tin with a double layer of baking parchment helps to stop the edges of the cake from burning before it is cooked in the middle.
The cake is ready when it is firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs but no wet batter.
The fruit needs to soak at least overnight so make sure you start the day before you want to bake the cake!
Don't be put off by the long ingredients list, the cake isn't difficult to make!
Is It Crumbly?:
Well yes, obviously it is slightly crumbly. Regular fruit cake is crumbly, let alone a vegan and gluten-free version!
However, it does slice cleanly rather than falling apart and the texture is lovely to eat. It will also hold up well to being decorated with marzipan and icing.
Can I Make It Alcohol Free?:
Yes, you can use an equal amount of orange juice to soak the fruits in instead of alcohol.
Bear in mind that if you aren't feeding the cake with alcohol then it won't keep for as long so only make it the week you want to serve it.
How To Make Oat Flour:
You can buy certified gluten-free oat flour but it is also very easy to make your own.
Simply blend certified gluten-free porridge oats in a high powered blender until they have turned into a fine flour with no larger flecks of oats.
You will need to stop and stir the flour or give the blender a shake a couple of times to ensure that the oats are evenly blended, but the whole process shouldn't take more than 30-60 seconds depending on your blender.
How To Store It:
Once the cake has cooled completely, remove it from it's tin and brush it all over - top, bottom and sides, with your choice of alcohol.
Wrap it tightly first in baking parchment, then tin foil. Store it in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to a couple of months. (It will probably keep for 3 months but I haven't tested it yet!).
Drizzle over a couple of tablespoons of alcohol 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 Christmas Cake:
Traditionally, Christmas cakes are covered in a layer of marzipan (brush the cake with sieved, 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. You can make vegan royal icing by swapping the egg white for aquafaba.
Once the gluten-free 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.
If you tried this recipe let me know how it went! Rate it, leave a comment or tag @domestic_gothess on Instagram and hashtag it #domesticgothess
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Gluten-Free Vegan Christmas Cake
- 125 g raisins
- 125 g sultanas
- 125 g currants
- 100 g dried cranberries
- 100 g mixed candied peel (or chopped dried apricots)
- 85 g glace cherries quartered
- 100 ml rum, whisky, brandy or sherry (plus extra for feeding)
- 125 g silken tofu
- 80 ml unsweetened non-dairy milk
- 1 Tablespoon vinegar
- 175 g vegan block butter (I use Naturli Vegan Block) softened
- 125 g dark brown soft/muscovado sugar
- 50 g light brown soft/muscovado sugar
- 30 g treacle
- finely grated zest of 1 orange
- finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- ¾ teaspoon xanthan gum
- ¾ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- pinch salt
- 250 g oat flour OR a plain gluten-free flour blend (Doves Farm Freee)
- 90 g ground almonds (almond flour)
- 50 g chickpea (gram) flour
- 50 g chopped blanched almonds
- The day before you want to bake the cake (and up to a week in advance), mix together the dried fruits and the alcohol in a tub with a lid. Give them a stir every now and again to ensure that they are evenly coated.
- The following day, preheat the oven to 150°C/130°C fan/300°F/gas mark 2. Grease a deep 20cm/8inch round cake tin and line it with a double layer of baking parchment.
- Blend the silken tofu, milk and vinegar until smooth, either in a blender or in a jug with a stick blender (I use a stick blender).
- In a large bowl, whisk together the vegan butter, dark and light brown sugars, treacle and orange and lemon zest until fluffy.
- Whisk the xanthan gum, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice, cinnamon, nutmeg and a pinch of salt into the butter mixture.
- Add the gluten-free flour or oat flour, ground almonds, chickpea flour and the tofu mixture and mix to a smooth, thick batter.
- Fold in the soaked fruit, along with any juices, and the chopped almonds.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared tin and spread it level. Use the back of a wet spoon to smooth the top, re-wetting the spoon as needed.
- Bake for about 2 hours 45 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. You may need to loosely cover the top with tin foil towards the end of baking if the top starts to get too dark before the cake is cooked through.
- Allow the cake to cool for 30 minutes then brush with 1 Tablespoon of your preferred alcohol. Leave to cool in the tin completely (about 8 hours).
- Once the cake is completely cold, remove it from the tin and brush all over with a little alcohol.
- Wrap the cake up in baking parchment then tin foil (it MUST be completely cold first), and store in an airtight container, feeding every week or two with alcohol, for up to three months.
- See post above for tips, details and step-by-step photos.
- For the best results follow the recipe closely and make it exactly as written. Changing any of the ingredients could affect the outcome of the cake. I cannot comment on how any substitutions will work so any changes to the recipe must be done at your own risk.
- I have not provided US cup conversions as they are too inaccurate for this recipe. Please use a scale.
- You can vary the types of dried fruit that you add to suit your own tastes, 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 get clean slices, use a very sharp serrated knife and cut the cake with a sawing motion rather than pressing straight down.