I’m going to apologize first thing. To all the traditional bakers, to all the Grandma’s and Nonna’s who may be reading this. I’m sorry, but this is not a typical drunken fruit cake recipe. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be made months and months in advance. I know, what was I thinking?! Well, I was thinking I wanted a simple, easy, and seriously delicious gluten free fruit cake. One that you could serve to just about anybody and they would love it (except those pesky fruit cake haters, we won’t talk about them!) I also wanted this to be on the non-boozy side of things. Purely because I get asked for alcohol free desserts all the time. Sheesh you’d think I was an alcoholic or something! But really, at the end of the day, I just wanted gluten free fruit cake. In my belly. Right now.
Let’s Be Honest, Gluten Free Baking Can Suck
Unlike in other parts of the world, here in Australia fruit cake is actually eaten any time of the year! But I think there is definitely something special about a real Christmas fruit cake. Especially if it happens to be a gluten free fruit cake, as they can be just so damned hard to find! Even more so, a delicious tasting one that you wouldn’t even know is gluten free! You would think they would be easy to convert to gluten free, wouldn’t you? Being a rather stodgy type cake already. But alas, it’s never that simple is it.
That’s why one of my lovely readers contacted me several months ago in a bid to convert the fruit cake her Mum made every year to gluten free. She had tried and tried to nail it so many times. But due to the lack luster-ness of store bought gluten free flour blends she just couldn’t get it to taste right! That’s where I stepped in. Sometimes, you just need to understand gluten free flours and how they work together. And hey, I’m no expert, however I did write this amazing breakdown of all the types of GF flour that you should definitely check out! But it was thanks to trial and error I was able to nail this recipe for her.
I will admit, I do prefer to use a homemade flour blend that’s heavy in rice flours (both white and brown). But to make this recipe accessible to everyone it will absolutely work well with certain store bought flour blends. My one key note is this, for this recipe stay away from White Wings GF blend. I have tried it and honestly it’s not great. Normally I highly recommend it… just not today. My go-to brand for this cake is Well and Good.
So Why Do Folks Still Dislike Gluten Free Fruit Cake?
Well it actually comes down to two things. Oh and did I mention that you’re able to fully control both of them?! Yup. Funnily enough, my Dad is not a real fruit cake lover…. that is until he tried this one! He went back for seconds, and possibly even thirds (knowing my Dad). How awesome! But what was it that I did to win him over?
Firstly I took out that pesky ingredient that most people actually hate, but don’t realize they do. There is a certain taste that comes with gluten free fruit cake and it generally comes in the form of candied lemon and orange peel (or Mixed Peel). It actually has quite a dominating taste to it. So I simply took it out! Instead I popped a little grated lemon zest to add that slight citrus note to it.
The second thing that really affects the taste is how long and low you cook your gluten free fruit cake for. Or more specifically whether or not you burn it! That other pesky taste that often comes with fruit cake is actually caused by burning fruit! The key to overcoming this is cooking your fruit cake at a very low temperature (150 degrees Celsius) for a good couple of hours. But even then it can still burn!
So whats a girl to do?!
Once upon a time you would’ve found the bakers of the day wrapping their fruit cakes in damp newspaper before baking. It was a simple and fairly effective method, if you didn’t mind the house stinking like burning paper all day. Instead I used a simple, yet really effective method, Baking Strips. It was thanks to the lovely Natalie over at Sweetness and Bite that I stumbled across this wonderful method.
Using her baking strips technique I was able to cook my gluten free fruit cake, low and oh so slowly until it was perfectly baked. Wollah! No more burnt fruit cake or weird tasting ingredients = many happy people now able to gorge themselves at Christmas time. (Well except my husband, he still hates cooked fruit!)
But I suppose now that I’ve talked the hell up of this fruit cake I should probably get onto showing you how it’s done huh! So here it is, my simple, don’t need to bake head Gluten Free Fruit Cake, inspired by the classic CWA Recipe!
For more easy and delicious Gluten Free Christmas recipes check out my new eBook, A Very Merry Gluten Free Christmas!
Gluten Free Fruit Cake
- 200 grams Sultanas
- 125 grams Currants
- 150 grams Raisins
- 2 tsp Lemon Zest *see notes below for alternative
- 100 grams Glace Cherries
- 60 grams Slivered Almonds
- 1 cup Honey
- 125 grams Salted Butter
- 1 cup Water
- 2 tsp Mixed Spice
- 1 tsp Bicarbonate Soda
- 2 cups Gluten Free Plain Flour *see notes below
- 2 large 700g Eggs beaten
- 1 tsp Gluten Free Baking Powder
- Preheat your oven to 150 Degrees Celsius. Line a 9 inch (23cm) round spring form pan with baking paper, bottom and sides and prepare baking strips to circle around the outside and a lid. Check out the link mentioned above for the technique I used. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan place the sultanas, currants, raisins, peel/lemon rind, cherries and almonds.
- Add in the wet ingredients. Honey, butter and water, along with the mixed spice and bicarb soda. Place over a medium heat and boil until everything has melted down together.
- Continue to boil for another 5-10 minutes, stirring constantly. The sultanas and raisins will plump up and look gorgeously juicy and fat. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
- Once the mixture has reduced to a temperature that's cool enough to touch, add in the eggs and whisk well.
- Stir in the flour and baking powder and you should have one gorgeously thick fruit cake batter. Pour into your prepared tin and pop it straight into the oven for 2 hours.
- The fruit cake will be ready when a thin knife inserted into the middle comes out cleanly. Allow to cool in the tin for a good 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Cover with a clean tea towel and allow to cool fully, before storing in an airtight container for 7-10 days.
- Serve with a cup of tea as is, or with a puddle of gluten free custard!
- If you love the taste of traditional fruit cake then simply pop 60 grams of Mixed Peel in instead of the grated lemon zest.
- What flour blend you use here will make a difference. For a truly light and fluffy cake you'll want a blend with a good helping of rice flour. My preferred blend at the moment is the Well & Good Gluten Free Flour range available from IGA. Orgran also works well here, however I recommend staying away from White Wings, it turns out too dry.
- Want to make your Gluten Free Fruit Cake even darker and yummier? Use half honey and half golden syrup instead! Also really handy if you've run out of honey 😉
- This Gluten Free Fruit Cake also freezes well, simply allow the cake to cool fully before wrapping tightly in two layers of glad wrap. Finish with a layer of aluminium foil and pop onto a flat surface in the freezer. Alternatively cut and freeze in individual servings to make grabbing an afternoon snack a breeze!!