Gluten Free Christmas Cake Recipe

A gluten free Christmas cake was one thing I didn't get to enjoy when I was a kid. Back in the 1960 and 70s it wasn't possible to buy ready made gluten free products apart from basic (yucky) bread. 

The only option was to bake my own as I special treat. Stretching the budget enough to cook two separate cakes at Christmas was more than my mother could manage, so I had to wait until I got married before experimenting.

Luckily, due to the high quantity of dried fruit and small amount of flour required, it didn't prove too difficult to achieve success. So that I didn't forget by the following year, I wrote down my gluten free Christmas cake recipe and have used it for nearly every year since. I am pleased to be able to publish it now so that you can try it yourself. 

Gluten Free Christmas Cake


  • 225g (8oz) sultanas
  • 225g (8oz) currants
  • 225g (8oz) raisins
  • 50g (2 oz) chopped mixed peel
  • 50g (2 oz) chopped glace cherries
  • 45ml (3 tbsp) ruby port, dark rum, sherry or brandy
  • Grated zest and juice 1 orange or lemon
  • 225g (8oz) butter
  • 225g (8oz) lignt muscovado sugar (brown)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 225g (8oz) gluten free flour mix
  • 50g (20z) ground almonds or almond flour
  • Pinch salt
  • 1.5ml (1/2tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1.5ml (1/2tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 tbs cocoa powder

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 4hour
Yield: 1 loaf
Tags: Gluten Free Diet

Check that your dried fruit is gluten free. Some companies use wheat flour to keep the fruits separate, and sometimes use a wheat based glucose syrup (especially in pots of chopped mixed peel and glace cherries).

Prepare a 20cm (8 inch) deep round cake tin, by greasing and lining with greaseproof paper

Preheat the oven to 150oC, 325oF or Gas Mark 3


Before making your gluten free Christmas cake, soak the dried fruit in the fruit juice and alcohol at least overnight. This will help to preserve your cake and ensure it will stay moist. 

In a large bowl, cream (beat) together the butter and sugar until they are light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs.

Add the orange or lemon rind, ground almonds and soaked dried fruit (including any remaining liquid). Mix thoroughly.

Sift your flour and cocoa powder into another bowl. Add the salt and spices. Then fold this into the creamed mixture. 

Spoon your cake into the prepared tin, levelling the top, and give the tin a gentle tap on the counter to disperse any air pockets.

Bake for about 4 hours, or until a fine skewer inserted into the middle of the cake is clean when removed. 

Take the cake out of the oven and least to cool in the tin for at least an hour. 

Decorating your gluten free Christmas cake

In order to establish a perfectly flat, even looking cake you will need to cover it in marzipan or almond paste. Not all shop-bought marzipan is gluten free so here is my recipe for making it yourself. 

Marizpan ingredients

  • 225g (8oz) ground almonds
  • 225g (8oz) caster sugar (superfine sugar)
  • 225g (8oz) icing sugar (confectioners sugar)
  • 2 eggs
  • a few drops almond essence 

Making your marzipan

Sift the sugars into a bowl to remove any lumps. Add the ground almonds and stir together.

Break the eggs into a small bowl, beat and then add them to the almonds and sugar, along with the almond essence. Mix together until it forms into a paste. Stop as soon as it comes together.

Tip out onto a board sprinkled with icing sugar and knead until it is smooth.

Covering the cake

Remove all the wrappings from the cake (foil and greaseproof). Choose the smoothest "face" (often the bottom) to decorate.

Dust your work surface with icing sugar, and roll out the marzipan thinly. Use the tin you cooked the cake in to mark out a circle of marzipan the correct size to fit on the "top" of the cake. Roll the rest into a long rectangle to wrap around the side.

Warm 4 tablespoons of apricot jam (jelly) with 1 tablespoon of water in a small saucepan, then push trough a sieve to remove any pieces of fruit.

Place your cake smooth side up in the center of your cake board and brush it with the apricot glaze.

Apply the marzipan to the cake pressing it into place with your hands. Press it together where the top and sides join to eliminate any gaps. Take the sides right down to the board, effectively sealing the cake from the air entirely.

At this point you can no longer add any extra liquid to the cake with a skewer or you would break the seal.

Icing the cake

You can then leave the cake until you are ready to add the icing of your choice. This could either be ready to roll icing from the store (ensure it is gluten free!) or your own royal icing.

The simplest treatment is to pile royal icing on top and use a wet palette knife to pull it up to form a snowy effect.

You may like to smooth an area with the wet knife and stand a Santa, some trees, or a reindeer or two on the top.

You can push some plastic holly into the top of the smooth sides, or make some leaves out of colored marzipan.

You could also tie a festive ribbon around your gluten free Christmas cake to finish it off.

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