After making this Fruit Cake, I realised it would be the perfect base for a Christmas Fruit Cake! You know, that 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...
Unlike marzipan or fondant icing, which I find quite sickly, especially on top of an already saccharine fruit cake, this vegan 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.
Commonly used alcohol types are rum, brandy or sherry, but you can use any alcohol you like.
If you need this recipe to be gluten-free, make sure to check that the alcohol you use is gluten-free.
If you need it to be vegan, you can use the website barnivore.com to make sure that your alcohol is vegan.
Christmas Fruit Cake traditionally contains alcohol as the dried fruits are soaked in alcohol before being added to the cake batter. To make alcohol-free Christmas Fruit Cake, you can replace the alcohol by soaking the dried fruit in orange juice or apple juice instead.
Yes - you can do this by placing the dried fruit and alcohol (or juice) mixture in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with a microwave-safe plate and microwave for 1 - 1 ½ minutes. Then leave to soak for 30 minutes.
How to make this recipe
Scroll down to the bottom of the post for the full recipe.
- Place chopped dried fruits, walnuts and spices in a bowl and add sherry/brandy until covered.
Tip: Leave to soak in the fridge for at least 24 hours.
- Mix together all the ingredients in a glass mixing bowl, using a measuring jug to measure out the plant-based milk.
- Transfer the cake batter to a 18cm / 7 inch springform baking tin.
Tip: Line the tin with greased baking paper to make it easier to take out afterwards.
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Transfer to a cooling rack until the cake has cooled completely before applying the frosting.
How to make the buttercream frosting
- Whizz until completely smooth.
- Use a palette knife for frosting to spread the buttercream on the top and around the sides of the cake.
How long does this Christmas Fruit Cake keep for?
This cake keeps covered in the fridge for a few days. It's different from other vegan and gluten-free cakes as it doesn’t dry out, and isn't crumbly or chewy. 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.
Substitutions you can make
- You can use any type of dried fruit: I used a mixture of dates, cranberries, figs, prunes and apricots, but you can also use raisins, sultanas, sour cherries, mango, papaya or pineapple.
- You can replace the alcohol with orange juice or apple juice.
- You can replace the chopped walnuts with pecan nuts.
- You can use any type of oil: coconut oil, olive oil or vegetable oil.
- You can use any type of plant-based milk: almond milk, rice milk, soy milk, cashew milk, oat milk etc.
- You can replace the ground almonds with ground walnuts.
- For a nut-free version: replace the ground almonds with ground sunflower seeds.
- You can use plain flour, wholemeal (whole wheat) flour or spelt flour instead of the gluten-free flour if you’re not gluten-free.
More vegan festive desserts
- 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 #rhiansrecipes on Instagram! Thank you.
Watch how to make this recipe
Gluten-Free Vegan Christmas Fruit Cake
For the cake:
- 300 g (1 ½ 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)
- 1 tablespoon unwaxed orange zest (or sub 1 teaspoon orange extract)
- 50 g (½ cup) walnuts , finely chopped (or sub pecan nuts)
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice (or sub a mixture of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves)
- Generous amount brandy or sherry (ensure vegan/gluten-free if necessary - or sub apple or orange juice)
- 60 g (¼ cup) coconut oil (or sub olive or vegetable oil)
- 200 ml (⅘ cup) unsweetened almond milk (or any other plant-based milk)
- 4 tablespoons maple syrup (or sub any other sweetener)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch salt
- 150 g (1 ¼ cup) ground almonds (almond meal) *
- 150 g (1 ¼ cup) gluten-free flour blend (or sub plain flour if not gluten-free)
- 2 heaped teaspoons baking powder (ensure gluten-free if necessary)
- ¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
For the cake:
- 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 maple syrup, 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 the 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.
For the buttercream:
- 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.
To frost and decorate:
- 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.
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