This Gluten-Free Vegan Christmas Fruit Cake is a must-make this festive season! It’s:
- slightly boozy and perfectly spiced
- seriously moist
- covered in the most indulgent buttercream!
After making this Fruit Cake, I realised it would be the perfect base for a Christmas Fruit Cake! You know, that boozy, heavily spiced fruit cake enveloped in a thick layer of super sweet marzipan or fondant icing?
My version here is still pleasantly alcoholic, but slightly more subtly spiced than the traditional version, and much less heavy on the sugar…
Although I usually add maple syrup to sweeten my gluten-free vegan sponge cakes, I left out the additional sweetener for this fruit cake, as I found the dried fruit was already sweet enough.
Speaking of dried fruit, I don’t particularly like raisins and currants, so I prefer to use other types of dried fruit. I used a mixture of dates, dried cranberries, dried figs, prunes and dried apricots, but you can use whatever dried fruit mix you like. Tropical fruit such as dried mango, papaya or pineapple would also be great.
I also added citrussy orange zest and plenty of fragrant, warming spices such as ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
I really recommend soaking the dried fruit for at least 24 hours before baking the cake. I used brandy, but you could use sherry instead – just ensure it’s vegan and/or gluten-free if necessary. If you’d rather not use alcohol, you could always use orange juice or apple juice instead.
I wanted to keep this Gluten-Free Vegan Christmas Fruit Cake refined sugar free, but wasn’t sure what to do for the icing part. Then I realised that I could use a cashew-based buttercream frosting instead!
Unlike marzipan or fondant icing, which I find quite sickly, especially on top of an already saccharine fruit cake, this cashew buttercream is not too sweet, and its rich creaminess makes a lovely contrast to the sweetness of the cake and the slight acidity of the dried fruit.
All you need to do to make the buttercream is blend some soaked cashew nuts along with vanilla, maple syrup and salt. The result is a luxuriously velvety buttercream that can be spread easily over the cake, and has a silky, melt-in-your-mouth texture like real buttercream.
This Gluten-Free Vegan Christmas Fruit Cake is so different from many other vegan and gluten-free cakes as it doesn’t dry out, and isn’t crumbly or chewy. Plus, the taste even improves a couple of days after baking, which makes it great for gifting, and can easily be prepared in advance when entertaining guests.
For more festive baked goods, check out my:
- Pecan Pie
- Apple Cake
- Gingerbread Cookies
- Pumpkin Cake
- Apple Pie
- Matcha Shortbread
- Pumpkin Pie
- Gingerbread Cake
If you try out this recipe or anything else from my blog, I’d really love to hear any feedback! Please give it a rating, leave a comment, or tag a photo #rhiansrecipes on Instagram! Thank you.
Helpful tools to make this Gluten-Free Vegan Christmas Fruit Cake:
For the cake:
For the frosting:
This Gluten-Free Vegan Christmas Fruit Cake is slightly boozy and perfectly spiced, seriously moist, and covered in the most indulgent buttercream!
- 200 g (1 cup) dried fruit, finely chopped (I used a mixture of dates, dried cranberries, dried figs, prunes and dried apricots, but you can use whatever dried fruit mix you like)
- Zest of 1 unwaxed orange (or sub 1 teaspoon orange extract)
- 50 g (1/2 cup) walnuts or pecan nuts, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice (or sub a mixture of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves)
- Generous amount of brandy or sherry (ensure vegan/gluten-free if necessary - or sub apple or orange juice)
- 60 g (1/4 cup) coconut oil (or sub olive or vegetable oil)
- 200 ml (4/5 cup) unsweetened almond milk (or any other plant-based milk)
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 150 g (1 1/4 cups) ground almonds* (almond meal)
- 150 g (1 1/4 cups) gluten-free flour blend (or sub plain flour if not gluten-free)
- 2 heaped teaspoons baking power (ensure gluten-free if necessary)
- 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 100 g (2/3 cup) raw cashew nuts, soaked in cold water overnight or in hot water for 15 minutes
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup (or sub any other sweetener)
- 4 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk (or sub water or any other plant-based milk)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
Place the dried fruit, orange zest, walnuts, ginger, cinnamon and mixed spice in a bowl and add a generous amount of brandy or sherry, until everything is roughly covered
Keep covered in the fridge for around 24 hours, to allow the flavours to develop
Before making the cake, preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit)
Place the coconut oil in a large bowl and melt over a saucepan of boiling water or in the microwave (skip this step if using any other oil)
Once melted, add the milk to the same bowl along with the lemon juice, vanilla, salt and ground almonds
Sift in the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda
Add the dried fruit mixture (along with any residual brandy), adding a tiny splash more milk if it’s looking too dry
Transfer mixture into a baking tin lined with greased baking paper (I used a 7inch/18cm springform tin)
Bake in oven for around 30 minutes until risen and an inserted skewer comes out clean
Once cooked, leave to cool completely before frosting the cake
Drain soaked cashews and add to a food processor along with all the other ingredients
Whizz until completely smooth
Taste and adjust flavour if necessary, adding more maple syrup, salt or vanilla if you wish
Leave the buttercream to cool before using to frost the cake
Once the cake has cooled completely, place onto a large plate or cake stand
Use a spatula or knife to cover the top and sides of the cake
Best when fresh, but keeps well covered in the fridge for up to a few days
*You can alternatively use almond flour
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