This vegan Christmas or special Holiday cake is so quick and easy to prepare but still packs in all those fabulous festive flavours.
However, this incredibly moist spiced fruit cake is not just for Christmas!
It is also perfect to enjoy on Hogmanay (New Years Eve), New Years Day, Robert Burns Day, Easter time, Lent, and Mother's Day. Or any time of the year when you fancy a slice of delicious fruit cake.
This cake freezes beautifully! And can keep well for a fair while in a cake tin, so there will be a slice ready for any guests that need impressing!
Vegan Quick-Mix Christmas Cake
This vegan Christmas or special Holidays cake is a quick mix one as the dried fruits do not require soaking in alcohol or fruit juice which many types of festive fruit cake recipes request.
A jar of ready-made mincemeat is used which is simply a blend of dried fruits, citrus peel, sugar and a type of fat, most commonly suet. Be sure and check the ingredients are all vegan-friendly which most are. Centuries ago mincemeat usually intended for festive pies, would have contained minced meat but nowadays not so much.
This recipe has been adapted from a reader sent in recipe that my mum discovered in an old discontinued English magazine titled 'Country Kitchen'. The magazine issue that contained the cake recipe was December 2009 and the title of the recipe is 'Quick-mix Christmas cake'.
However, I have since found the exact same recipe in Delia Smith's Christmas Book first published in 1992 so I am assuming that the recipe originates with Delia Smith and is called 'Last minute Christmas mincemeat cake'.
This adapted vegan quick and easy Christmas cake is really simple to prepare and is almost a one-bowl cake mix. First the vegan buttermilk is prepared by adding apple cider vinegar to plant milk and setting aside for at least 10 minutes to begin to curdle.
All the cake ingredients, except the buttermilk, is added to a mixing bowl. The vegan buttermilk is poured into the cake mix and everything is mixed well. Next the cake batter is scooped into a prepared cake pan and using the back of a spoon the surface is levelled smooth.
The cake is placed into a preheated oven on the middle shelf for around 1 and a half hours. Possibly a little longer will be required. My fan oven took 1 hour and 40 minutes.
The cake is ready when a skewer or toothpick poked into the middle of the cake comes out clean and the cake top is firm and dark golden. Don't worry if a surface crack appears in the cake during baking as this will soon become less noticeable as the cake settles and cools.
The cake is left in the pan to cool for around 30 minutes before being carefully tipped out to continue cooling completely. It's important to wait until the cake is completely cool before wrapping and storing to avoid the cake sweating.
If you prepare this vegan Christmas cake do pop a comment below and let us know how you got on.
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How To Prepare Vegan Quick And Easy Christmas Cake
Recipe Notes And FAQS
Once cool wrap the cake up in a layer of greaseproof/parchment paper and a second layer of kitchen foil. Some prefer to wrap in 2 layers of parchment paper and and additional 1 or 2 layers of kitchen foil.
Place in a cake tin or other suitable food-safe plastic container or storage.
It's best not to wrap in cling-film or Saran wrap as this can encourage sweating of the cake and encourage mould to grow.
Store for 1 month either decorated or undecorated. Although some Christmas cakes can last for several months if baked and stored properly.
Simply wrap up well and place in the freezer for 4-6 months. To defrost unwrap the cake and place on a chopping board or similar until fully defrosted and at room temperature.
Whole cakes or single slices can be frozen, place a piece of greaseproof paper between each slice so that it is easy to remove a few slices at a time.
Christmas cake be frozen either decorated or undecorated.
Of course not.
This cake is delicious as it is without additional decorations but it can be nice to decorate the cake according to any special occasions it may be baked for.
For Christmas or enjoying during the festive season, including Hogmanay or New years Day, a marzipan and iced topping is always tasty. You may be able to source vegan friendly marzipan and royal icing or find a recipe. I don't have one as yet but will link here when I add those recipes to the blog.
The marzipan and/or iced topping can have little marzipan festive hand-made figures added, or ready-made vegan-friendly decorations or inedible décor to suit the occasion. Or a simple water icing topping can be poured over the cake and allowed to drizzle down the sides for an impressive effect. Water icing is simply icing/powdered sugar mixed with a little water until the desired consistency is achieved.
A different decoration is to prepare a fruit glaze and add a whole-nut topping. This is a nice simple alternative to decorating the fruit cake with icing or marzipan. Check out the recipe card below for an easy method.
As well as whole-nuts add some glace cherries or other candied fruits if liked.
A British Simnel cake is traditionally enjoyed during Lent, Easter and Mother's Day. A Simnel cake is a fruit cake with a marzipan top and little balls of marzipan arranged around the top of the cake. Use vegan marzipan if you'd like to prepare a vegan Simnel cake.
Yes and no. Feeding is entirely up to the individual.
Some people prefer to feed their Christmas cakes as they believe it produces a moister, more flavourful cake and it can help to preserve the cake for longer if fed small amounts of alcohol such as brandy or port.
Others prefer not to be bothered with the additional steps of feeding their cake and still end up with delicious Christmas cake.
To feed a fruit cake simply use a skewer or toothpick or similar, to pop little holes over the surface and then drizzle in about 1-2 tablespoon's of your chosen liquid. Popular choices include brandy, port, or sherry.
Festive cakes are usually first fed a day or so after baking.
Fresh orange or apple juice can be used instead but this choice of liquid won't have any preservation effects on how long the cake will keep for, but will still result in a tasty cake.
Just be careful not to overfeed a cake and only to feed the cake a 1-3 times as you don't want to risk moistening the cake too much.
*** just a note to say that this Christmas cake recipe produces a deliciously moist cake and especially more so if the fruit glaze is used. So feeding is likely not necessary, but if storing the cake un-decorated for a longer time period you may choose to feed it a little if preferred***
I have not tested this cake with gluten-free flour but in theory the flour could be replaced with a ready-prepared gluten-free plain flour blend.
Using a flour blend which is a mix of different gluten-free flours tends to provide the best cake result with a better crumb, as opposed to using just one flour such as almond, oat or coconut flour.
As well as a gluten-free flour blend add about ¼-1/2 teaspoon of xanthium gum which helps prevent the cake from being too crumbly and falling apart as the cake is sliced. Lastly ensure that the rest of your ingredients are free from gluten.
***For a gluten-free fruit loaf cake that is also sugar and fat free: gluten-free fruit cake tea loaf.***
A jar of mincemeat is required for this recipe but the mincemeat is not conventional and does not contain meat of any kind!
During British medieval times mincemeat, a mix of fermented fruit and minced or chopped meat, was prepared for pies. But nowadays jars of mincemeat intended for festive pies is often a blend of spices, dried fruits, fruit peel, sugar and suet. With brandy often added.
For vegan mincemeat it is important that the mincemeat contains vegetable suet and not animal suet.
Vegetable suet is prepared with vegetable oil into a hard white looking fat that is formed into little dried pieces.
**In recipes vegetable suet can be replaced by freezing a block of vegan butter and then grating it into the recipe**
For an easy home-made mincemeat recipe check out the BBC Good Food recipe.
More Traditional Vegan Bakes To Discover And Enjoy:
Scottish Smiddy Dumpling (Traditional Sultana Cake popular at Hogmanay/Scottish New Year buffets)
Jam and coconut sponge tray-bake (serve with hot plant custard for a special tasty treat)
Traditional British Eve's Pudding (apples baked under a cinnamon-lemon flavoured sponge
Traditional British Rock Cakes (little rustic buns. gluten-free method also included)
Pineapple Custard Tart (so tasty and refreshing, perfect served with whipped vegan cream for a special dinner)
Vegan Quick And Easy Christmas Cake
- 7-8 inch cake pan
- greaseproof/baking parchment/paper, for double-lining the cake pan
- Mixing bowl
- wire rack, optional for cooling cake
- pastry brush, optional for decorating cake
- 225 g wholemeal plain flour or plain/all-purpose flour
- 140 g soft dark sugar or any type of dark/brown sugar
- 140 g vegan butter or vegan margarine
- 175 g mixed dried fruit or sultanas, raisins, currants, single variety or a mix
- 411 g mincemeat use one suitable for vegans, this is found in a jar in mostly all supermarkets and is a sweet blend of dried fruits, fruit peel, etc. My jar weighed 411g of mincemeat so use a jar round about that weight.
- 55 g walnuts chopped, or different chopped nuts
- 1 orange grated zest
- 1 lemon grated zest
- 1 tablespoon baking powder baking soda
- 1 tablespoon mixed spice or pumpkin spice/apple pie spice or similar spice blend. Or 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of ginger and 1 teaspoon of nutmeg or similar home-made spice blend. A pinch of ground cloves is also tasty if liked.
- 1 tablespoon brandy or similar alternative, optional (can use fresh orange juice instead)
Vegan buttermilk: (mix the milk and vinegar together and set aside for at least 10 minutes to begin curdling)
- 200 ml plant milk such as oat, soya or almond
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar or plain white distilled vinegar
- 100 grams whole nuts any type of nuts can be used such as walnuts, pecans, almonds, brazils, hazelnuts, etc. Use plain nuts or toast nut in a dry fry pan/skillet until speckled with golden bits for added flavour. More or less nuts may be needed to cover your cake.
- 2 tablespoons apricot jam or other smooth fruit jam/jelly
- 2 tablespoon fresh orange juice or replace with brandy for extra festiveness if liked
Prepare the vegan buttermilk. Add the apple cider vinegar to the plant milk, stir, and leave for at least 10 minutes to begin curdling.
Preheat the oven to 130 Fan/ 150 Celsius/ 325 Fahrenheit/ Gas 2.
- Prepare the cake pan by greasing the bottom and sides with a little vegan margarine or butter. Cut out a layer of greaseproof paper to cover the sides and bottom. Grease the paper layer once it has been pressed into the cake pan, and press on a second layer of greaseproof paper over the first.This will protect the cake from the heat.
Prepare the cake batter:
- Add all the ingredients to a mixing bowl, leaving the vegan buttermilk until last.
- Pour in the buttermilk and mix well until everything is well combined.
- Scoop the cake mix into the cake pan and level the top down a little.
- Place the cake pan onto the middle oven shelf and bake for 90-100 minutes or until baked.Check for doneness, by sticking a skewer or similar into the middle and seeing if it comes out clean. The top of the cake will be nice and firm also. If the cake is not quite ready bake for a further 10-15 minutes and then check again. Continue baking until ready. My fan oven took around 1 hour and 40 minutes for the cake to bake.
- Tip: when opening the oven door to check for doneness don't open fully but just as much as necessary to check the cake. You don't want to add too much cooler air into the oven.
Cool the cake:
- Allow the cake to cool for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, in the cake pan. I left mine to cool for at least an hour in the tin on a wire rack.
- Once cool carefully tip the cake out and place on a wire rack or chopping board until completely cool.
- Wrap the cake in a layer of greaseproof paper and a second layer of kitchen foil. Place in a cake tin or plastic container until ready to decorate.
Feed the cake, optional
- If you'd like to 'feed' the cake after a few days or even a week later (before decorating), simply uncover the cake wrappings and using a skewer or tooth pick make little holes over the cake. Measure a tablespoon of brandy or fresh orange juice and scatter or brush the liquid over the cake. Wrap the cake back up.
- The festive cake does not have to be decorated but for special holidays or days the cake can be decorated to suit.
- A layer of vegan marzipan and a second layer of vegan royal style icing can be applied. Or for an easier method, and one which has less sugar, try some nuts and a fruity glaze.
- With a small spoon or fork whip two tablespoons of apricot jam with two tablespoons of fresh orange juice.
- Using a pastry brush or back of a spoon, brush a layer of the jam-juice over the top of the cake. Firmly press on whatever nuts you have chosen, making a pattern if liked, until the cake top is covered.
- Brush the remaining jam-juice mix over the nuts. It is a sticky business but give the nuts a little press just to make sure they are nestling firmly into the cake and glaze.
- Allow the cake to sit for a few hours for the glaze and nuts to set better.
- Wrap the cake back up until required. Fruit cakes can store for at least a month usually longer if stored and wrapped correctly. Keep the cake in a cool, dry area away from heat sources such as the cooker!
- Nutritional data is provided for guidance only and is not a strict analysis as ingredients vary.
- Quick and easy vegan Christmas cake can be stored decorated or undecorated for at least a month, likely longer if well wrapped with a layer of greaseproof paper and a second layer of kitchen foil and placed in a cake tin or plastic container.
- Or freeze the whole cake or individual slices for up to 4-6 months, well wrapped and placed deep in the freezer. This is perfect for getting ahead of Christmas/festive/special Holidays preparations. Or preserving the cake to enjoy year round! Decorated and undecorated cakes can be frozen but need to be properly wrapped to avoid freezer damage.
- It's best not a cut a fruit cake until at least a few days after baking so that the cake can settle and the flavours develop. Also it will be easier to slice a few days old cake. Although if you can't wait then a slice warm from the oven with some hot plant custard is always a tasty treat!
- This cake can easily serve 12 but can be sliced thinner for more servings.