Gluten-free Christmas cake recipe – my BEST EVER version that nobody would ever know is Coeliac-friendly and wheat-free. The earlier you make this before the big day, the better!
Gluten-free Christmas cake recipe, anyone? Yep, it must be that time of year again! You wouldn’t believe how easy this is to make without any crazy ingredients or methods. So let’s get into some festive baking!
One of your most requested recipes during the festive season has been: a proper gluten-free Christmas cake that actually tastes like real Christmas cake.
So here it is! And I must say, it turned out better than I could have ever imagined.
It’s been a very, very, very long time since I’ve enjoyed Christmas cake like this and even though I’m not usually the biggest fan… this was different.
It just has such a wonderful texture that reminds me of well… real Christmas cake! And I know that after one bite, you’ll be in 100% agreeance.
Why bake my gluten-free Christmas cake recipe?
- It’s the ultimate festive cake, yet nobody would EVER know that it’s gluten-free.
- This one is perfect for making in advance so you can really let all that lovely flavour develop.
- And yep, this another one that even muggles will enjoy – so make sure you save some for yourself!
- This one is super easy to make dairy-free using df margarine instead of butter.
- You can mix this up however you like, using amaretto or brandy and whatever quantities of mixed dried fruit that you like.
So, here’s the big question: what does my gluten-free Christmas cake taste like?
In every bite, you’ve got all those wonderful festive flavours thanks to the amaretto-soaked dried fruit and marzipan, finished with sweet fondant icing.
The little hints of citrus from the lemon and mixed peel (if you use it!) is the perfect finishing touch for me. Plus the texture of the cake overall is something I wouldn’t expect was possible in a gluten-free Christmas cake.
Here’s everything you’ll need for this recipe – consider this your shopping list!
Gluten-free Christmas cake recipe: Ingredients
For the fruit:
- mixed fruit
- amaretto (or brandy)
For the rest of the cake
- dark brown sugar
- butter (or dairy-free alternative)
- black treacle
- mixed spice
- gluten free plain flour
- xanthan gum
- ground almonds
- blanched almonds
For the icing
- apricot jam
- marzipan (golden or white)
- white, green and red fondant icing
Looking for the measurements? Keep scrolling until you see the recipe card for the measurements and method…
So I thought I’d kick things off with a little frequently asked questions section – if you just want the recipe, then keep scrolling.
But I’ve thrown in some tips here that will be really helpful if this is your first time baking this, or you want to adapt it. So here they are!
Gluten-free Christmas cake recipe: Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make this recipe gluten-free? Is it suitable for Coeliacs?
It is gluten-free, though nobody would know just by tasting it – trust me!
Bear in mind that minimising cross-contamination is hugely important if you’re Coeliac or making this for someone who is. Here’s some tips from Coeliac UK on minimising the risk of cross contamination:
Also, make sure that all ingredients used don’t have any gluten-containing ingredients. Then make that that they also don’t have a ‘may contain’ warning for gluten, wheat, rye, barley, oats (which aren’t gf), spelt and khorasan wheat (aka Kamut).
Here’s some more info from Coeliac UK on identifying safe gluten-free products.
Can I make your gluten-free Christmas cake recipe dairy-free?
Yep – you can easily make this dairy-free with one simple swap.
Can I make your gluten-free Christmas cake recipe vegan?
Yep! If you follow the instructions above to make this recipe dairy-free, then all you’ve got left to contend with is the eggs.
Whilst I haven’t specifically labelled this recipe as being vegan-friendly because 4 eggs is quite a few to replace and results can vary, you’re welcome to try some of these egg replacements listed below.
Here’s a few ideas you can use as egg replacements, so each of these = 1 egg.
- 3 tablespoons of aquafaba, whisked until frothy – water from a can of chickpeas. Keep the chickpeas for a future dinner!
- 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed and 3 tbsp of water
- Egg replacement powder – I’d recommend using Orgran as it’s gluten-free.
- 1 tablespoon of chia/flax seeds mixed with 2 tablespoons of water and left for 10 minutes in the fridge.
- 3 tablespoons of applesauce.
I haven’t tested all of these egg alternatives so let me know how you get on in the comments below.
Can I make this recipe low FODMAP?
Sadly, Christmas cake is very difficult to make low FODMAP. The quantity of dried fruit is simply too high.
If enough people ask me for a low FODMAP Christmas fruit cake, I’ll gladly whip one up for you!
Is your gluten-free Christmas cake recipe nut-free?
This is not a nut-free recipe as it uses almonds and ground almonds. However, you can always feel free to leave out the blanched almonds and replace the ground almonds with more flour.
But even still, please make sure you check the ingredients label on ALL the products you use to bake this cake just to be safe.
Even if the products don’t contain nuts, they may have a ‘may contain nuts’ warning due to being produced in a factory that handles nuts.
You can never be too careful so always read the labels on everything first.
Can I make your gluten-free Christmas cake in a food processor or standing mixer?
Of course you can use a stand mixer, but you definitely don’t need to. I use an electric whisk for this recipe. Here’s a link to the electric whisk I use.
You can use a food processor to make the initial cake batter, but don’t use it once you’ve added the dried fruit mixture. It’ll start to blend them instead of mixing them!
Can I make your gluten-free Christmas cake recipe by hand?
You can of course, bake this without any assistance from any appliance – just a good ol’ fashioned silicone spatula will do. Just make sure you give it a lot of welly, otherwise your mixture won’t be consistent and might not bake properly.
Do I need any special equipment to bake your gluten-free Christmas cake?
You will need an 8in (20cm) loose bottom tin with high sides to it. Here’s a link to the one I use.
If you intend to cut holly leaves from the green fondant icing, I’d recommend using holly leaf cutters. Otherwise it can actually be quite fiddly and time consuming!
Does this recipe need xanthan gum?
Yes and I wouldn’t recommend leaving xanthan gum out of this one. You’ll see xanthan gum in a lot of my recipes as it’s an essential ingredient in gluten-free baking.
Without gluten to bind the cake batter together, you can be left with a very loose and crumbly sponge texture which won’t work for this recipe.
As this recipe uses gluten-free plain flour (which doesn’t have xanthan gum in it already) I would highly recommend adding it, if possible.
Some people have asked if they can use psyllium husk powder instead of xanthan gum, but I’ve found that it definitely results in a denser sponge so I wouldn’t overly recommend it.
Can I make this recipe using other gluten-free flours like buckwheat flour or coconut flour?
There’s a big difference between ‘gluten-free plain/self-raising flour’ and a *singular* type gluten-free flour. When I say ‘gluten-free plain or self-raising flour’ in a recipe, I mean a BLEND of gluten-free flours, not just one, singular flour.
Most gluten-free flour you buy in the supermarket typically contains a blend of rice flour, potato flour, maize flour, tapioca flour AND buckwheat flour. That’s a lot of different flours!
So to replace it with just one specific type of flour… that’s not going to cut it at all. Definitely go for a gluten-free flour blend.
Do I need weighing scales to bake your gluten-free Christmas cake?
In short… yes, yes and yes! And I wouldn’t advise attempting any my recipes without them.
A lot of work went into fine tuning ratios and quantities and for me, baking is all about consistency and precision. I want you to make this recipe and for it to turn out EXACTLY like mine did.
I’d recommending using digital cooking scales like these so you know you’re getting an accurate measurement and replicating my recipe as accurately as poss.
How long can I keep your gluten-free Christmas cake for?
If stored correctly (double lined in baking paper and foil in an airtight container), this cake will last up to 3 months.
I’d recommend feeding it with more amaretto or brandy every few weeks to increase the flavour as it matures.
How can I tell when my gluten-free Christmas cake is done?
You’re looking for a lovely dark golden colour once baked. It should be slightly risen in the middle too.
How do I line my round baking tin ready for a gluten-free Christmas cake?
Once you start watching this video, you’ll understand why it’s just easier for you to watch this video instead of having me explain it in words!
It’s not that hard, but it’s very specific. So take 2 minutes to watch this video and get it right, first time:
I don’t like fondant icing/marzipan – what can I use instead?
For starters, you can skip the step the steps to ice the cake. Instead, you’ve got two options:
- Just before baking, arrange 100g of extra blanched almonds all over the top of your cake batter. Continue the recipe as normal and when it’s done, you won’t need to use marzipan or ice the cake at all – you can just begin storing and feeding it.
- Or, if you don’t mind marzipan, follow the recipe up to the point where you roll out your fondant icing. Instead, make this Christmas cake icing and spread it onto your cake in place of the fondant icing.
Can I make this without alcohol?
Of course! But bear in mind that using other alternatives can make your cake soggy, so please use more sparingly.
Traditional alternatives to alcohol in a Christmas cake include: cold English tea, orange juice and apple juice.
Alcohol doesn’t necessarily preserve the cake – it’s the sugar in it and storing it in an airtight contain that prevents it from spoiling. So ditching the alcohol for these alternatives shouldn’t have any negative effect.
Gluten-free Christmas cake recipe: Method
Oh and here’s a printable version of my gluten-free Christmas cake recipe. Please remember to give it 5 stars if you tried it and enjoyed it as it helps people know it’s worth trying too! ⭐️
Gluten-free Christmas Cake Recipe - BEST EVER! (dairy-free option)
For the fruit:
- 850 g mixed dried fruit *
- 2 lemons both zested and juice of 1 (you could use oranges here too)
- 120 ml amaretto or brandy
For the rest of the cake
- 225 g dark brown sugar
- 225 g butter softened (or dairy-free alternative)
- 4 eggs
- 1 tbsp black treacle
- 1.5 tsp mixed spice
- 225 g gluten free plain flour
- 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
- 25 g ground almonds
- 50 g blanched almonds chopped
For the icing
- apricot jam
- 400 g marzipan golden or white
- 700 g white fondant icing
- green and red fondant icing to shape into holly leaves
For the fruit:
- Measure out all of your dried fruit (as I mentioned above you can change up what you use depending on what you have and based on personal preference). Ensure that any larger chunks of dried fruit are finely chopped - dried cherries especially, if using. Place into a large bowl.
- Pour over your amaretto (or brandy) and the juice of a lemon. Stir in your lemon zest. Cover with cling film and allow the fruit to soak for as long as you can. I only left mine overnight and that was fine, but a few days would be great if you have time.
For the cake (once the fruit has soaked for enough time!):
- Preheat your oven to 140C (NOT fan) If you only have a fan oven go for 115-120C Fan.
- Prepare a 20cm loose bottom, high sided circular tin (linked above and below). Preparing your tin is a little more involved for this cake as it's in the oven for SO long. Instead of explaining here, I will pop a link to a video that will help with this in the FAQ section above - it needs to be double lined and double wrapped around the outside too.
- Add all your cake ingredients (softened butter, sugar, eggs, treacle, mixed spice, gluten free flour, xanthan gum, ground almonds and chopped almonds to a bowl.) Mix with an electric mixer until fully combined.
- Gradually stir in all your soaked, dried fruit thoroughly, using a spatula or wooden spoon.
- Spoon your cake mix into your prepared tin, making sure its all nice and level.
- Cover the top of your cake with a square of baking paper with a hole in the middle of it (the hole helps with steam and the covering helps to prevent the cake from burning).
- Bake in the oven for around 4 hours - it will be a dark golden colour and fairly firm. If it needs longer, give it another 15 minutes or so.
- Allow the cake to cool in the tin.
- Once cold, poke all over with a skewer until about half way down and spoon over a little extra amaretto (or brandy if preferred). Remove the cake from the tin.
- Wrap your cake in two layers of baking paper followed by two layers of kitchen foil. Store in an air tight container. If you are making this ahead of time, every few weeks you can feed the cake by pouring over a tbsp of alcohol. You can feed this every few weeks for 2-3 months.
To ice the cake:
- Remove the cake from its baking paper / foil wrapping and turn it upside down so that the flattest side is facing upwards. Spread all over with a thin layer of slightly warmed apricot jam.
- Dust your surface with icing sugar and briefly knead your marzipan until softer and more workable.
- Dust your surface again and your rolling pin too. Roll out your marzipan to a large circle, around 4mm thick.
- Use your rolling pin to lift up the marzipan and cover your cake with it. Carefully press it onto the top and down the sides so that it's lovely and smooth. Trim any excess marzipan left around the base using a sharp knife.
- Dust your surface once more with icing sugar and then roll out your white fondant icing. Roll out your white fondant icing to a large circle, around 4mm thick.
- Again, use your rolling pin to the lift up the icing and cover the cake with it. Trim any excess you might have.
- Decorate the cake however you wish with edible or non edible (ribbons, figures) decorations. I used a little red and green fondant to make holly leaves and berries - to help them stick I wet the surface of the cake and gently pressed them into place. I'd recommend buying holly leaf cutters to make this nice and simple - I've linked these in the FAQ section above.
Any questions about the recipe? Please do let me know by following me on Instagram and leaving me a comment on a recent photo!
Thanks for reading,
Oh and don’t forget to pin this for later!