Gluten-Free Christmas Cake

, from Issue #81. November, 2018
Photography by Vanessa and Michael Lewis.
Gluten-Free Christmas Cake

A fabulous cake the whole family can enjoy. Sticky fruits and aromatic spices combine to give the rich festive flavours we love at Christmas time.


¾ cup rum or other alcohol of choice, or use orange juice
1 cup raisins
1 cup golden sultanas
½ cup sliced dried apricots
½ cup dried cranberries
10 fresh dates, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon each ground nutmeg and mixed spice
finely grated zest 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 teaspoons vanilla paste
150 grams butter at room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large, very ripe banana, mashed
3 large eggs, size 7, lightly beaten
1¼ cups plain gluten-free flour
½ teaspoon xantham gum*
½ teaspoon baking powder
To finish
¼ cup extra rum or other alcohol, optional
Candied Nut Topping
½ cup caster sugar
2 egg whites, size 7 eggs
¾ teaspoon each ground cinnamon and ginger
½ teaspoon vanilla paste
1 cup whole blanched almonds
1 cup roasted hazelnuts
To finish
2 tablespoons chopped pistachio nuts
2 tablespoons goji berries or chopped dried cranberries


Preheat the oven to 150°C.

Grease a 20cm springform cake tin. Fully line with a double layer of baking paper, greasing between the two layers so they will stick together.

Fruit: Place all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and slowly bring to the boil, stirring occasionally until all the liquid has been absorbed. Set aside to cool.

Cake: Beat the butter and brown sugar together for 5 minutes. Beat in the banana then gradually beat in the eggs until well mixed.

Stir in the cooled fruit mixture. Combine all the remaining cake ingredients in a bowl. Add to the batter and, using a large metal spoon, gently but thoroughly fold together, making sure there are no pockets of flour in the batter or around the fruit.

Transfer to the tin and smooth the top then form a 1cm shallow hollow in the centre of the cake so it will rise to form a flat top.

Bake the cake in the centre of the oven for 2 hours or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Use a toothpick to poke all over the top of the hot cake and immediately pour over the ¼ cup of rum. Leave to cool completely in the tin. Makes 1 cake

Cooks note: *If the gluten-free flour you use doesn’t contain xantham gum, add the ½ teaspoon.

Candied Nut Topping: Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Grease a large flat baking tray and fully line with baking paper.

Stir the sugar, egg whites, spices and vanilla together in a bowl. Don’t whisk the egg white. Gently stir in the almonds and hazelnuts until well coated.

Tip the mixture onto the tray, scraping in all the sugary egg, and spread out into a thin layer.

Bake for 10 minutes then turn it all over and bake for another 10 minutes until golden. The mixture will puff up and be soft and super-sticky but will become crisp on cooling.

Leave to cool on the tray then break into pieces and store in an airtight container. Pile on top of the cake and scatter over the pistachio nuts and goji berries. Makes enough for 1 cake