Every home has its Christmas traditions and Christmas cake is one of ours.
My maternal grandmother made the best dark Christmas cakes and my father loved dark fruit cake. As a newly-wed, my mother wanted my grandmother’s recipe for a boiled dark fruit cake. Unfortunately, my grandmother didn’t have a recipe, she just made the cake the way she had learned. Ever resourceful, my mother “helped” my grandmother prepare the Christmas cake one year and recorded the ingredients and the directions.
Each year, that story is retold. Christmas cake is part of the tradition; when one our family members adopted a wheat-free diet, it was important to find a suitable substitute.
This recipe has some quirks. The fruit needs to be prepared a week before the cake is baked. You will need to use a gluten free flour, similar to Robin Hood, that has xanthan gum.
At the end of the baking, the final 1/3 cup of brandy (or rum)is poured over the cake and then the glaze is added. Even better, skewer the cake with tiny pricks and drizzle with rum or brandy regularly. That is the traditional way to “season” a Christmas cake. Please wait at least a week (ideally longer) before cutting the cake. It needs the time to mature.
The end result was moist, rich in flavour and very reminiscent of the dark Christmas cake my family enjoys. Happy Baking!
Gluten Free Christmas Cake
- 4-6 cups dried mixed fruit (I used: figs, Thompson raisins, seeded raisins and raising, mixed peel, cherries and currants). The exact weight is 900 grams of dried mixed fruit.
- 1 cup brandy (or rum)
- 2/3 butter, softened
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup gluten-free plain flour (Robin Hood Brand)
- 1/4 cup gluten-free self-raising flour*
- 2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3/4 cup blanched almonds
- 1/4 cup apricot jam
- *Note: To make your own gluten free self-raising flour, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of gluten free baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt for every 1 cup 2 tablespoons of gluten free flour
- Place dried fruit and 2/3 cup brandy in a large airtight container. Mix well. Cover and stand for 1 week, stirring occasionally.
- Preheat oven to 150°C. Lightly grease a 7cm deep, 20cm (base) round cake pan. Line base and sides with waxed paper.
- Using electric beaters, cream butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale and creamy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Sift flours and spices over butter mixture. Add fruit mixture and stir until well combined.
- Press mixture into pan. Smooth surface. Decorate top with almonds.
- Position oven rack just below centre so cake sits in centre of oven.
- Bake cake for 2 to 2 1/4 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Pour remaining 1/3 cup brandy (or rum)over hot cake. Allow to cool completely in pan.
- Place jam in a heatproof, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH (100%) for 30 seconds or until warm. Remove cake from pan and brush top with warm jam. Allow to set. Wait at least one week before serving.
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