This gluten free Christmas cake recipe is an absolute winner! It is the result of combining a recipe handed down through generations with our own little twists and tweaks! Rich, moist, fruity, boozy and amazing. I made a final tester last week and it was gone in a matter or days!
You will need:
A loose bottomed 20 cm spring-form cake tin (or tin of similar volume, my mum always used to make a square cake).
Grease-proof paper or baking parchment
Good old-fashioned brown parcel paper or newspaper and string
An electric hand whisk or freestanding mixer – (I swear by my vintage Kenwood Chef).
Oven pre-heated to a gentle 140 degrees centigrade
To pre-soak the fruit
450 g currants
175 g of sultanas
175 g raisins
50 g chopped candied peel
(N.B.) if you don’t want the bother of buying and weighing all the above, choose a good quality mixed fruit and peel mix and add use 800g of that instead- I often do)
60 g chopped glace cherries
60 g dried cranberries
4 tbsp brandy or other spirit
Main cake ingredients
225 g gluten free plain flour – we use Freee Flour from Doves farm
1/2 tsp salt
2 level tsp gluten free baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
225 g dark soft brown sugar
4 large free range eggs (please make sure they are large)
225 g butter (either spreadable butter or gently softened butter. We often use a dairy free margarine too which works just as well)
1 tbsp dark treacle (you might want to warm it gently to make it easier to use but don’t use it when hot as it can cause your cake mixture to split).
Zest of two clementines
To make the cake
Soak the fruit
Try to pre-soak the fruit at least one day ahead of making the cake itself. The longer you leave it to soak, the more plump and juicy the fruit will be. Simply put all the fruit in a large bowl or tub and mix with the brandy. Keep the fruit covered (and locked away – it is way too tempting to pick out the odd brandy soaked cherry!).
The gluten free cake itself
Making the cake is easy peasy. Simply sift together the flour, baking powder salt and spices in a large bowl or the bowl of your mixer.
Add the sugar, eggs, treacle and butter (remember what I said about making sure the treacle isn’t too hot – this mixture is too precious to spoil) and mix until nice and pale and fluffy. Gently, gently stir in the fruit and clementine zest.
Transfer the cake mixture into the cake tin and level off the mixture. This cake is going to be in the oven for a long time so make sure the tin is well greased and lined on both the bottom and the sides of the tin.
For extra protection I wrap our cake tin in a double layer of paper. If you have brown Kraft paper to hand this works brilliantly, if not then a couple of the pages from the Sunday papers works just as well (I still remember the smell of Christmas cakes gently baking mixed with the smell of lightly scorched paper from my own childhood). Fold the paper so that it fits around the outer circumference of the tin and stands slightly proud of the rim of the tin. Tie tightly with string. To protect the top of the cake I also gently cover lay another large circle of paper over the top of the cake (rest it on the top of the outer paper wrapping and not on the mixture itself). Cut a small hole in the top of the paper circle to allow steam to escape (Paul Hollywood might hate a soggy bottom but a soggy top is even worse!).
Get ready, get set…Bake!
Carefully place your cake on the bottom shelf of the oven and bank for 4 hours. Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to peak in the oven before the time is up. Depending on your individual oven, the cake may need a little longer. The cake is ready when bouncy to the touch and a sharp knife or skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the tin for around 45 minutes. Then remove the tin and let the cake cool completely on a cake rack.
This cake is amazing when first made, so makes a great ‘last minute cake’ for those who missed ‘Stir it Up Sunday’ (typically the third weekend in November). But…if you made it in advance, it tastes even more amazing if you ‘feed’ it. To ‘feed’ the cake, make tiny holes in the top of the cake and drizzle spoonfuls of brandy into the cake now and again. This gives the cake extra moisture and makes for a seriously ‘boozy’ cake. What’s not to love.
We marzipan and ice ours. How you decorate is entirely up to you!