Gluten-Free Christmas Cake

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This luxurious Gluten-Free Christmas Cake is an absolute showstopper. Bursting with brandy laced fruits, rich in spices and spiked with citrus. This traditional festive fruit cake is also totally customisable to your preferred gluten free flours and has no xanthan gum.

Slice of Christmas Cake on a plate in front of whole cake on a stand

The scent of a freshly baked Christmas Cake cooling next to the stove ushers in the season mid-November like no other. Decorated beautifully and resplendent on display this cake is an absolute festive treat.

Christmas Cake on a cake stand

It’s a shame that the Christmas Cake is usually given over to its more desserty cousin the Christmas Pudding. They are similar in the fact that they are rich bakes and made with similar fruits, spices and brandy but I would advocate that both have their place. The Christmas Cake is offered to neighbours, last minute guests and nibbled on when you’re wrapping presents. Whereas the Pudding is more of a family affair, enjoyed in great bowlfuls after your festive banquet with lashings of brandy butter.

I make both every year and do you know what, there is never a crumb left of either by New Year.

What makes this the best Gluten-Free Christmas Cake recipe?

  • Everything you love about Christmas Cake is present and correct – the fruits, the brandy, the spices and your guests will have no idea it’s gluten-free!! (My mum is always amazed my cakes are gf and she called this her favourite cake ever!)
  • It’s incredibly moist – this is all down to soaking our dried fruits in the brandy. Plus a little bit of feeding here and there of more brandy!
  • The ground almonds give this cake a delicious crumb with great structure.
  • There is a little bit of scope in this recipe if you want to have a play with your gluten-free flours to amp up the flavour.
  • You can bake this cake 5 weeks before you want to serve it or even at just 1 week prior it will be delicious. It suits your level of festive preparation.

Close up of cut slice of Christmas Cake on a plate

The secret to the most amazing Gluten-Free Christmas Cake

I want to get this out of the way first. If you are a long time follower of my gluten-free cake recipes then you will know that my cheat’s way of getting the most delectable moist and rich crumb that has great structure, minimal crumble and means we never have to use xanthan gum is…

Ground Almonds

A large proportion of our crumb in this cake is made with ground almonds and this gives us a good enough structure that we can play around a little with the flour content.

Pro Baker’s Tip

If you can get hold of almond flour then all the better. It gives an even more solid structure to the cake and gives minimal cake crumble (we want a little though right?). However it can be very hard to buy in the UK.

Can you substitute the ground almonds?

Not in this case, I’m afraid this cake relies on these nuts to achieve the right texture and taste of the cake.

Are you dying to know everything on how to use nut flours in your baking? READ MORE >>> The Ultimate Guide to Nut Flours.

Which flour should you use in a Gluten-Free Christmas Cake?

Since the ground almonds give us a great base we only need to use one whole grain flour (for taste and fluffiness) and one starchy flour (for binding) alongside it.

1. Buckwheat flour

This is the wholegrain flour I love to use for this Gluten-Free Christmas Cake recipe. The flavour it imparts to the cake is superb. Rich earthy tones which provide a lovely backdrop to the molasses flavour of the dark sugar and treacle and are also a perfect partner to the spices and brandy.

2. Tapioca Flour

This is a great all-rounder starchy flour necessary to help all the ingredients to bind together so we have no need for xanthan gum.

Flours to buy: Gluten-Free Buckwheat Flour, Gluten-Free Tapioca Flour

Flour Substitutions

Instead of the Buckwheat flour you can use:

  • Teff flour – A little lighter than buckwheat but it pairs so well with the spices in the cake and gives a caramelly flavour.
  • Sorghum flour – this flour is a great all-rounder, a natural flavour which would be an excellent choice for this Christmas Cake instead of the Buckwheat.

Plain Gluten-Free Flour

If you want to swap out the tapioca flour and buckwheat flour and use your favourite brand of gluten-free flour then you can’t go wrong with this option either. I like Doves Farm Gluten-Free Plain White Flour as it doesn’t contain xanthan gum. That’s my personal preference – if your brand does contain xanthan gum then that is fine to use too.

ingredients for christmas cake

What other ingredients do we need?

  • Vine Fruits – the traditional triumvirate of sultanas, currants and raisins are a classic for a reason.
  • Glacé Cherries – use lovely whole red glacé cherries. If you have any Homemade Glacé Cherries in your larder then you’ll be given the award of Star Baker!
  • Mixed Peel – It gives a gorgeous citrus vibe to the cake and if you’ve never tried using Homemade Mixed Peel in your cakes then you will be in for a treat.
  • Orange and lemon zest – let’s really sharpen up the citrus stakes. Use organic and unwaxed fruit.
  • Brandy – it’s traditional but not the only choice. You can swap in cherry brandy, amaretto, rum or sherry. Don’t buy an expensive bottle for the job though. Supermarket’s own is fine.
  • Spices – cinnamon, mixed spice and nutmeg set the cake up beautifully.
  • Whole almonds – yes more almonds but this time we chop them up roughly for a gorgeous nubbly texture.
  • Unsalted butter – room temperature as always.
  • Dark soft brown sugar – for flavour and moisture. You can swap out for light brown sugar which gives a lighter flavour or even muscovado sugar for more intensity.
  • Black treacle – just a tablespoon will give us a lovely molasses flavour.
  • Eggs – I use a medium size and Burford Browns for a rich flavour.
  • Salt – brings out the flavours in your cakes. Just a pinch.

How to make a Gluten-Free Christmas Cake

For full recipe instructions go to the recipe card at the end of this post.

The steps are simple:

  1. Soak the vine fruits, glacé cherries and mixed peel in the brandy overnight.brandy being poured into dried fruits in glass bowl
  2. The next day beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.christmas cake mixture in mixer
  3. Mix in the eggs.christmas cake mixture in glass bowl in stand mixer
  4. Whisk the flours up with the ground almonds then add into the cake mixture along with the spices.christmas cake mixture in glass bowl with whiskchristmas cake mixture in glass bowl with wooden spoon
  5. Finally mix in the soaked fruit, peel, chopped almonds, black treacle, orange and lemon zests.christmas cake mixture in glass bowl
  6. Pour the cake mixture into a tin which has been doubly lined on the bottom and around the sides with parchment paper.christmas cake mixture in cake tin ready for oven
  7. Bake for 3.5 hours at 150C / 130C fan / gas 2.
  8. Let the cake cool for 30 minutes in the tin then remove to finish cooling on a cooling rack.
  9. When the cake is cold pierce the surface several times using a skewer and spoon brandy over the top.a hand feeding brandy into christmas cake
  10. Wrap the cake in double baking parchment followed by a double layer of aluminium foil and store in a large airtight tin.
  11. You can feed the cake with 2 tablespoons of brandy every 10 days until you are ready to decorate it.

If you would like a last minute Christmas Cake recipe which is quick and easy to make then CLICK HERE >>> Almond & Mincemeat Christmas Sponge Cake

Pro Baker’s Tips

  • Is it totally necessary to soak your fruit? Absolutely! This is make or break between a dry cake and one that’s full of vivacious plump and moist fruit.
  • The cake tin I recommend for this recipe is a round tin 23cm x 7cm with removable base.
  • You must line the tin really well with 2 layers. The long oven time can mean a burnt crust. Line the tin on the base as usual but you should also line the tin around the inner sides of the cake. Cut 2 strips of baking parchment 75cm x 10cm and place around the inside of the cake tin.
  • The black treacle is easy to measure if you dip the measuring spoon in oil beforehand – shake off the excess then dip into the treacle.
  • Does your mixture usually curdle when you add the eggs? Then I recommend beating the eggs together lightly first then pour into the cake mixture in a long running stream slowly with the mixer on. If your mixture still curdles then add a couple of tablespoons of your flour mix which will bring it back together.
  • The cake should be ready at 3.5 hours but check the cake for doneness with a skewer. Once inserted if it pulls out with just a few damp crumbs then it’s ready. It shouldn’t have any uncooked cake mixture on it. If it’s not ready then bake a little longer.
  • Recommended Equipment – Stand Mixer, Baking Parchment, Silicone Spatula, 23cm Springform Cake Tin

Christmas Cake on a cake stand

FAQs

When should you make a Christmas Cake?

A Christmas Cake can be made 5-6 weeks before you want to serve it. It’s traditional to ‘feed’ your Christmas cake every 10 days with 1-2 tablespoons of brandy (or alcohol of your choice).

How to store a Christmas cake

Once the cake has completely cooled then wrap well in parchment and a sturdy layer of aluminium foil. Keep the cake in an airtight tin (not plastic as the atmosphere is too moist) and store safely somewhere cool and dark like the top or your kitchen cupboard or larder.

What ‘feeding liquid’ should you use in a Christmas Cake?

Go wild. Brandy is the traditional choice as that is what we’ve already used when making the cake. But amaretto, rum or even cherry brandy are also excellent options.

How often should you feed your Christmas cake?

2 tablespoons every 10 days until you decorate it. Pierce the cake several times with a skewer and spoon brandy into the holes. (knitting needle or a thin chopstick also good options for poking holes)

How long does Christmas Cake keep?

Undecorated the cake will last for at least a couple of months if wrapped up and stored correctly. Once decorated with marzipan and icing then your cake will last at least a week, if not longer. If you want to keep your cake refrigerated (not that I would recommend that in terms of taste) it will keep for at least a month.

Side view of Christmas Cake with slice taken out

How do you decorate a Christmas Cake?

I like to go traditional and ice the cake with both marzipan and ready-to-roll fondant icing.

CLICK HERE >>> How to make Easy Homemade Marzipan – you will be astounded by the difference in taste!!

Here are the steps:

  1. Brush the surface of the cake all over with apricot jam, heated and brought to the boil with a splash of water to ease the spreading.
  2. Roll out your marzipan and drape over the surface of your cake, tuck it in all around, use a cake smoother to get a really even surface over the surface and around the sides. Trim the excess marzipan at the base of the cake. 
  3. Leave the cake out overnight for the marzipan to dry out the excess oils before you cover with the icing.
  4. Brush the surface of the marzipan with a little brandy to help the icing stick.
  5. Roll out the icing and drape over the top of the cake.
  6. Tuck it in around the sides and again use a cake smoother to get a really even surface over the surface and around the sides. Trim the excess icing at the base of the cake.

CLICK HERE >>> How to ice a Christmas Cake with marzipan and fondant.

Pro Baker’s Tip

The surface of this cake can be a little bumpy. Before you decorate it with the marzipan and icing turn the cake upside down so the smooth bottom becomes the top and creates a lovely even surface for icing your cake.

Recommended EquipmentLarge Fondant Rolling Pin, Christmas Cake Board, Cake Smoother

Christmas Cake on a cake stand

Frosted Redcurrants and Rosemary

This is such an easy and effective way to decorate your cake.

  1. Dip your stem of redcurrants and whole rosemary stalks into egg white, and shake off the excess.
  2. Drag them through a small bowl filled with white sugar and then leave to dry overnight on baking parchment.
  3. Arrange as you like atop of your Christmas Cake.

Pro Baker’s Tip

Don’t forget the ribbon. The ribbon secured at the base of your cake not only sets the cake off beautifully but also hides a scraggly skirt of fondant icing. You’d be amazed at the difference this makes to the look of your cake. Just wrap any ribbon round and secure together with double sided sellotape.

More Christmas Desserts You’ll Love!!

Close up of cut slice of Christmas Cake on a plate

According to Nigel Slater a good Christmas Cake should be more fruit than crumb and this one is an admirable example of that. If you do make this Gluten-Free Christmas Cake then please leave a comment below and give the recipe a rating which helps others find the recipe on Google. If you then go on to use this recipe as a launch pad for your own culinary creation then I’d also love it if you’d share it and tag me on Instagram. It is so lovely for me to see your versions and variations of my recipes.

Slice of Christmas Cake on a plate in front of whole cake on a stand

Gluten-Free Christmas Cake

This luxurious Gluten-Free Christmas Cake is an absolute showstopper. Bursting with brandy laced fruits, rich in spices and spiked with citrus. This traditional festive fruit cake is also totally customisable to your preferred gluten free flours and has no xanthan gum.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Cake
Cuisine: British
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Soaking Time: 12 hours
Servings: 16 people
Calories: 1110kcal

Ingredients

  • 450 g currants
  • 225 g sultanas
  • 225 g raisins
  • 85 g glacé cherries
  • 85 g mixed peel
  • 100 ml brandy + 2 tablespoons for feeding
  • 150 g ground almonds
  • 100 g buckwheat flour
  • 50 g tapioca flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 275 g unsalted butter room temperature
  • 275 g dark soft brown sugar
  • 4 eggs medium
  • 50 g whole almonds skin on is fine, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon black treacle
  • 1 orange just the zest
  • 1 lemon just the zest

Icing

  • 1 kg marzipan
  • 1 kg ready-to-roll white fondant icing
  • 3 tablespoons apricot jam
  • 1 tablespoon brandy for brushing

Frosted Redcurrants and Rosemary

  • 100 g redcurrants still on their stalks
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 egg white
  • 100 g caster sugar

Instructions

  • Place the currants, sultanas, raisins, glacé cherries and mixed peel in a large mixing bowl and stir in the brandy. Cover and leave the fruit to absorb the brandy overnight.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 150°C / 130°C fan / gas 2.
  • Line a 23cm cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment at the base and around the sides of the cake tin.
  • Beat the butter and sugar in a stand mixer for a few minutes until it’s a light coffee colour.
  • Whisk the eggs together lightly then pour into the butter and sugar with the mixer on until it’s completely combined. Scrape down the sides every so often.
  • Whisk the ground almonds together with the flours, spices and salt until well mixed. Then add into the cake mixture.
  • Once combined, fold in the soaked fruit, peel, almonds, black treacle and orange and lemon zests.
  • Pour the cake mixture into the tin, smoothing down the surface.
  • Finally cover the top of the cake with a double square of baking parchment with hole in the centre just to protect the surface of the cake from getting dry.
  • Bake for 3½ - 4 hours. Check after 3½ to see if an inserted skewer comes out clean. If so then remove from the oven.
  • Cool the cake for 30 minutes in the tin.
  • Remove the cake carefully to finish cooling on a wire rack.
  • When the cake is completely cold pierce the surface several times with a skewer and spoon over the extra 2 tablespoons brandy.
  • Wrap the cake in double baking parchment followed by a double layer of aluminium foil and store in a large airtight tin in a cool dark place.
  • Unwrap and feed the cake with 2 tablespoons of brandy every 10 days until you are ready to decorate it.

Decorating the cake in marzipan and fondant icing

  • Place the cake on a cake board, upside down to give a lovely smooth surface to work with.
  • Heat the apricot jam in a small saucepan with a splash of water until boiling then sieve.
  • Brush the surface of the cake all over with apricot jam so the marzipan can stick.
  • Roll out your marzipan and drape over the surface of your cake, tuck it in all around using your hands. A cake smoother is also an excellent tool to get a really even surface over the surface and around the sides. Trim the excess marzipan at the base of the cake and smooth out at the bottom.
  • Leave the cake out overnight for the marzipan to dry out the excess oils before you cover with the icing.
  • Brush the surface of the marzipan with a little brandy then roll out the icing and drape over the top of the cake. Tuck it in around the sides with your hands and again use a cake smoother to get a really even surface over the surface and around the sides. Trim the excess icing at the base of the cake.
  • Secure a ribbon to the base of the cake to hide any messy ends.

Frosted Redcurrants and Rosemary

  • Pour the egg white into one small bowl and the sugar into another small bowl.
  • Dip the redcurrant stalks into the egg whites and shake off the excess.
  • Dip the coated redcurrants into the sugar until covered and place on baking parchment to dry overnight.
  • Repeat with the rosemary.

Notes

  • Adapted from Christmas Cake recipe from Peyton and Byrne’s British Baking
  • This cake makes a 23cm / 9 inch round Christmas Cake.
  • Use a cake tin 23cm x 9cm with removable base.
  • Make your Christmas Cake 5-6 weeks before you want to serve it.
  • You must soak your fruit – for a beautifully moist cake with plump fruit.
  • Flour Substitutions - You can swap out the buckwheat flour for teff flour or sorghum flour. Or you can even swap out both the buckwheat flour and tapioca flour for the same amount of plain white gluten-free flour.
  • Click here >>> Homemade Glacé Cherry recipe
  • Click here >>> Homemade Mixed Peel Recipe
  • Measuring the black treacle is easy if you dip the measuring spoon in oil beforehand – the treacle drips straight off.
  • To avoid curdling when you add your eggs - beat them together lightly first then pour into the cake mixture in a long running stream slowly with the mixer on. If your mixture still curdles then add a couple of tablespoons of your flour mix which will bring it back together.
  • Do line the tin really well with double baking parchment to protect the cake. Line the base of the cake but also around the inner sides of the cake. Cut 2 strips of baking parchment 75cm x 10cm and place around the inside of the cake tin.
  • The cake should be ready at 3.5 hours but check the cake for doneness with a skewer.
  • How to store a Christmas cake - Once the cake has completely cooled then wrap well in parchment and a sturdy layer of aluminium foil. Keep the cake in an airtight tin (not plastic as the atmosphere is too moist) and store safely somewhere cool and dark like the top or your kitchen cupboard or larder.
  • There are several alcohol options for feeding your cake - Brandy is the traditional choice but amaretto, rum or even cherry brandy are also excellent options.
  • Feed your Christmas cake 2 tablespoons every 2 weeks until you decorate it. Pierce the cake several times with a skewer and spoon brandy into the holes. (knitting needle or a thin chopstick also good options for poking holes)
  • How long does Christmas Cake keep? - Undecorated the cake will last for at least a couple of months if wrapped up and stored correctly. Once decorated with marzipan and icing then your cake will last at least a week, if not longer. If you want to keep your cake refrigerated (not that I would recommend that in terms of taste) it will keep for at least a month.
  • Click here >>> Easy Homemade Marzipan

Nutrition

Calories: 1110kcal | Carbohydrates: 184g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 78mg | Sodium: 136mg | Potassium: 810mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 148g | Vitamin A: 549IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 145mg | Iron: 4mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @FromTheLarder or tag #FromTheLarder!

Comments

  1. Is the springform tin link correct? The tin on Amazon is 23 by 7, is that deep enough as I have one that size? Thank you

  2. Mary Miller says

    are there any translation software for those of us in the US, sorry, I am very probrit but for the life of me can’t translate the measurements. I would love to make this cake for christmas~

    • Hi Mary – I completely understand your frustration!! It’s great that you’ve asked this question. Yes there is translation software actually and it exists on my website. However, I don’t normally turn this on as it’s very confusing. However, I have just made a switch and I have turned it on for this recipe. You can click to change the measurements at the bottom of the ingredients list – ‘US Customary’ it says. When you do this you can see that it has translated the ingredients to show the measurements in ounces. A lot of the ingredients do not translate very well – but it might be of use to you. If you need the measurements in cups then I recommend googling – this translation will require recipe testing as weights cannot easily be converted into volume measurements. I don’t test my recipes in cups for various reasons and I’ve written a post which you might find helpful to explain why – CLICK HERE >>> Why I always use weights instead of volume measurements . My recommendation as always though is to buy a digital scale if you would like to bake from recipes which have weight measurements – they are less than $10 and are amazing kitchen gadgets. I hope I’ve helped a little!!

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