This recipe for Vegan Gluten Free Fruit Cake is free-from eggs, dairy, sugar, fat, nuts, and soy, yet each bite is deliciously moist, sweet, fruity, and satisfying. Its a great festive fruit cake alternative - for Christmas cakes, Hogmanay cakes, Easter cakes, Halloween cakes, Thanksgiving cakes, or even for a special Mother's Day or Father's Day. Or simply enjoy as an everyday free-from fruit cake to pair up with your morning coffee or afternoon tea.
When we say our fruit cake is sugar-free and fat-free we simply mean that there are no added sugars, butter, margarine or other baking fat required to bake this fruit cake. Of course there will still be some natural sugars and fats within the ingredients. This fruit cake works so well without adding any extra sugar as it is naturally sweetened by the dates, dried fruit, and orange juice.
🧾 Gluten-Free Fruit Cake
We have adapted this recipe from an old Fairtrade cookbook, and unfortunately we can't recall the name of the exact book despite scouring the depths of the internet, but the original recipe was titled - Fruity Loaf. We are still looking for the original book so we will update her with the title and author once we have located it!
The original recipe was not gluten-free as the recipe ingredients called for plain whole wheat flour. We wanted to create a gluten-free free from cake so we subbed the wheat flour out and opted for a gluten-free plain flour blend. The brand we used was Doves Farm gluten-free flour. We also included a ¼ teaspoon of xanthium gum as this helps hold the cake crumbs together - we did initially try the recipe with out the xanthium gum but unfortunately it was too crumbly so did not slice well.
The original recipe contained ground almonds but we wanted to create a nut-free fruit cake so opted for ground sunflower seeds instead. However, any ground seed or nut will work just as well so you can use your preference.
Other changes we made was stewing the dried fruit along with the dates, as the original recipe only called for stewing the dates. We found that stewing all the dried fruit resulted in a moister juicer cake.
We baked the cake many times and experimented with the dried fruits and discovered that by simmering the dried fruit in water it allowed more of the natural sweetness to be extracted as well as resulting in the most incredibly moist fruit cake. Which was so much better for a cake that is baked with gluten-free flour, as compared with wheat flour gluten-free flour does tend to be more thirsty and soak up more liquids so bakes can be quite dry if not enough liquid is included.
Another issue with gluten-free cakes is that they tend to dry out much more quickly after baking and during storage, but our gluten-free fruit cake retains its moisture beautifully.
We also included a teaspoon of cinnamon and a quarter teaspoon of ground cloves which beautifully compliments the orange juice and dried fruit bringing additional welcoming festive flavours.
If you do not require this fruit cake to be gluten-free then you can use plain or all purpose flour, or wholemeal plain flour, and omit the xanthium gum.
🥣 How To Prepare
Step 1: Prepare the dried fruit by chopping the dates, and adding the dates and dried fruit to a saucepan along with the water.
Step 2: Bring the fruits to a gentle boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
Step 3: Scoop the stewed fruits into a bowl and allow to cool for at least 20-30 minutes.
Step 4: Stir the orange juice through the stewed fruits.
Step 5: Add the flour, ground sunflower seeds, baking powder, xanthium gum, spices, and orange zest to the bowl with the stewed fruits.
Step 6: Add 4 tablespoons of water and mix until all combined.
Step 7: Scoop the cake batter into your chosen cake pan levelling off the top.
Step 8: Place on a baking shelf near to the middle-bottom of your oven and bake for 50-60 minutes.
Step 9: Once baked allow to cool in the baking pan for about 15 minutes before carefully removing and placing on a cooling rack.
The first photo is the fruit cake baked in a circular cake pan and the second photo is the fruit cake baked in a loaf pan. Both ways work fine.
Step 10: Once cool the cake can be sliced and enjoyed with a nice cup of tea. Green tea goes particularly well!
📋 Recipe Notes
This cake can be stored wrapped in greaseproof or parchment paper and a second layer of kitchen foil or placed in an airtight container, for up to 5 days. Possibly a few days longer if kept in a cool, dry area. We usually wrap it up and store in the fridge for up to 7 days.
This fruit cake can also be stored in the freezer for up to 4-6 months. Wrap up the entire cake or individual slices. Remove the wrappings and thaw to room temperature before enjoying.
There are a few substitutions you can try for this fruit cake:
1. Replace the orange juice with apple juice or even pineapple juice.
2. Orange rind or zest can be subbed out for lemon, lime, or grapefruit zest
3. Any blend of dried fruit mix can be used in any quantities for this cake, as long as your chosen mix equals 500 grams [17 ½ oz]. Such as raisins, currents, sultanas, dried apricots, dried pineapple or papaya cubes, cranberries, goji berries, dried cherries, dried blueberries, prunes, figs, etc. Or simply use an already prepared dried fruit mix. Although we do recommend adding the dates as they do contribute to the sweetness and flavour of the cake.
4. The mixed spice powder, ground cinnamon and ground cloves can be omitted or replaced with mixed spice powder, pumpkin spice powder, apple pie spice mix, or a combination of ground ginger, allspice powder, nutmeg, etc.
5. Instead of ground sunflower seeds replace with ground pumpkin seeds. Or if nuts are fine for your family's diet use ground almonds or any ground nuts.
6. Don't need the fruit cake to be gluten-free? Simply replace the gluten-free plain flour with plain or all-purpose flour, or wholemeal plain flour, and omit the xanthium gum.
Yes, if you would like to add some milk then you could add half water and half milk to the dried fruits before they stew. We particularly like using soya, almond, or oat milk for bakes but your usual milk, if you have one, will be fine.
We don't recommend using a single-type gluten-free flour like almond or coconut flour, as it may impact the cake's structure and crumb.
A blend of gluten-free flours usually ensures a more reliable and successful bake. In our experience, using a gluten-free plain flour blend, such as the Freee brand by Doves Farm, results in cakes with better structure.
Xanthan gum is a common ingredient that's often used in gluten-free baking. It is derived from fermented sugars, and it acts as a binder, giving the dough or batter a structure that often can lacking in gluten-free recipes.
Adding this ingredient to gluten-free breads, cakes, muffins, buns, etc., helps prevent the bake from crumbling apart.
The xanthan gum helps mimic the elastic properties of gluten with the result being that the bake has a better crumb and structure.
The best thing is that only a small amount of xanthum gum is required for each bake so a tub can last for many recipes.
Yes, once cooled you can cover the cake with vegan-friendly marzipan and vegan-friendly royal icing.
However, as this cake does not contain added sugar, fat, or alcohol it will not be able to be stored as long as an ordinary Christmas cake, so its best to bake and ice the cake a few days before required.
If you do wish to bake in advance, you could always freeze the baked fruit cake once its completely cool, and then once thawed and brought to room temperature you can add the marzipan and icing.
👪 More Vegan Gluten-Free Bakes
We like to offer gluten-free bakes whenever we can as we know what the difficulties are when a family member requires a gluten-free diet, as there have been several occasions over the years when one of our family members has had to experiment with a gluten-free for different reasons. During these times we discovered a few gluten-free gems that we are happy to share with you now.
If your looking for a gluten-free birthday cake that is also vegan then our Vegan Gluten Free Chocolate Cake is ideal as its just so delicious that even those who are not gluten-free will enjoy it.
While our original recipe for Traditional British Rock Cakes are not gluten-free we have outlined how to make these tasty rock cakes as gluten-free, and we do recommend trying them as they are the best gluten-free budget-bake. We provide a photo of our gluten-free rock cakes within the recipe notes and FAQ section.
Also, our original Old-Fashioned Cornbread Muffins recipe is not gluten-free, but we have prepared these muffins as gluten-free so we have provided guidance within the recipe notes below the main recipe. The gluten-free cornbread muffins were pretty good and there was not much difference between the original muffins, and as the recipe is a quick and easy one its another useful recipe to have to hand.
For another fruit cake that can be easily prepared as gluten-free do try our Vegan Traditional Fruit Loaf Cake as it quickly becomes a favourite by everyone who try's it. We provide guidance on how to convert it to gluten-free in the recipe notes within the recipe card.
***please note: for US measurements click the 'US customary button' within the recipe and the measurements will switch to tablespoons, cups, and ounces.***
Vegan Gluten Free Fruit Cake
- 1 kg/ 2Ib loaf pan plus baking parchment to line pan
- citrus fruit zester
- Mixing bowl
Pre-cook the dried fruits:
- 500 millilitres water
- 500 grams dried mixed fruit [use a dried fruit mix, or a combination of dried fruits such as raisins, currants, sultanas, cranberries, etc.]
- 200 grams dates [chopped and any stones removed]
Mix through dried fruit after stewing:
- 4 tablespoons fresh orange juice [or apple juice]
- 170 grams gluten free plain flour [ we used the Freee Doves Farm flour]
- ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
- 3 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice powder [or pumpkin or apple pie spice mix]
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves [or ground nutmeg, allspice, ginger, or extra of the other spices listed]
- 50 grams ground sunflower seeds [or ground pumpkin seeds] [if nuts are not an issue you can use ground almonds, etc]
- 1 medium orange [zest removed]
- 4 tablespoons water
- Preheat your oven to 130 Fan, 150 Celsius,300 Fahrenheit, or Gas 2.
- Prepare your loaf pan by greasing with either oil or margarine and lining the pan with baking parchment.
Stew the dried fruits
- Place the dried fruit and dates into a saucepan along with the water, and over a medium heat bring to a gentle boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.500 grams dried mixed fruit, 200 grams dates, 500 millilitres water
- Carefully transfer the stewed fruits into a mixing bowl and allow to cool for 20-30 minutes. Give the mix a stir every now and again to release the heat faster. Add the orange juice and mix.4 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- Add the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, ground sunflower seeds, mixed spice, cinnamon, cloves, and orange zest into a mixing bowl. Stir everything together.170 grams gluten free plain flour, ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum, 3 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder, 1 teaspoon mixed spice powder, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ground cloves, 50 grams ground sunflower seeds, 1 medium orange
- Pour the stewed fruits into the mixing bowl, and add the 4 tablespoons of water.4 tablespoons water
- Mix well and transfer the cake batter to the loaf pan and level the cake surface with the back of a cutlery spoon or a small spatula.
- Place the loaf pan on the shelf just above the bottom one, or if you prefer, directly under the middle shelf in the oven. The key is to keep the cake away from the top shelf of the oven!
- Baking time for the fruit cake can vary based on your specific oven. In our fan oven, it typically takes about 55 minutes. However, it's a good idea to start checking at the 50-minute mark. Look for a firm cake that's just pulling away from the sides of the pan. To be extra sure it's done, insert a skewer into the cake - it should come out clean. If these signs aren't there, continue baking for an additional 5-10 minutes and check again.
- Once baked, leave the cake in the loaf pan for about 20 minutes before carefully tipping out, peel the parchment paper away from the sides, and leave to cool on a cooling rack before slicing.
- Nutritional information is provided for guidance only and is not a strict calculation as ingredients vary.
- Vegan gluten-free fruit cake can be stored wrapped in parchment paper and a second layer of kitchen foil or placed in an airtight container, for up to 5 days. Possibly a few days longer if kept in a cool, dry area. We often wrap the cake and store in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
- This fruit cake can also be stored in the freezer for up to 4-6 months. Wrap up the entire cake or individual slices. Remove the wrappings and thaw to room temperature before enjoying.
- Replace the orange juice with apple or even pineapple juice. We freshly squeezed the orange after we removed the zest for the cake. We managed to get all 4 tablespoons required for the recipe from one medium sized orange.
- Alternatively use any store-bought orange juice.
- Any blend of mixed dried fruit can be used in any quantities for this cake, as long as your chosen mix equals the stated amounts. Such as raisins, currents, sultanas, dried apricots, dried pineapple or papaya cubes, cranberries, goji berries, dried cherries, dried blueberries, prunes, figs, etc. Or simply use an already prepared dried fruit mix.
- Although we do recommend not replacing the dates as they contribute to the sweetness as well as tasty caramelly flavours.
- Instead of mixed spice powder you can use pumpkin spice powder or apple pie spice powder, or extra cinnamon, or a mixture of ground ginger, cloves, nutmeg, all-spice, etc.
- The ground sunflower seeds can be replaced with ground pumpkin seeds. Or if nuts are not an issue use ground almonds or another ground nut.
- Don't need the fruit cake to be gluten-free? Simply replace the gluten-free plain flour with plain or all-purpose, or wholemeal plain flour, and omit the xanthium gum.
- Looking for a gluten-free Christmas cake? You can use this recipe and either bake the cake in a loaf pan, square pan, or a circular pan. However, as this cake is free from added sugar and fat, as well as alcohol, it will not keep as long as traditional Christmas cakes. It is best to bake the cake a few days before it is required for the festive period or freeze the baked cake. The cake can be covered with gluten-free marzipan and gluten-free royal icing the same way as a traditional festive cake.
Prepared our Free-From Fruit Cake? We would love to know how you got on with the recipe. It really is one to keep up your sleeve! Do pop back and drop us a comment below and click the star ratings. Thanks so much. Jacq x