Recipe: The Ultimate Vegan Christmas Cake (Part 1)

Ultimate Vegan Christmas Cake

Christmas is a time of year when vegans can face pitying looks for not being able to ‘join in’ with so many traditional foods of the season.  But with just the smallest of tweaks, much festive fayre can easily be made vegan, and this traditional rich, moist fruit cake is a perfect example.

I’ve split this post into two parts, as they will need attending to a few weeks apart.  First, make the cake using the recipe below, (and don’t be put off by the long cooking time – this is one of the easiest fruit cakes I’ve made, and the ‘hands on’ time is actually fairly minimal),  Then, after feeding the cake with your choice of tipple over the course of a few weeks, part 2 shows you how to marzipan and ice the cake, just in time for the Christmas festivities.

This recipe is based on my Mum’s top secret fruit cake recipe, which is easily the best fruit cake I’ve tried and has the benefit of being both simple to make and incredibly moist, with a lovely rich, fruity flavour.  I’ve made it Christmassy with a few festive additions, (black treacle, glacé cherries, and your choice of brandy, sherry or amaretto), and made it vegan simply by using dairy-free margarine in place of butter, and substituting a chia or flax seed mix in place of eggs.  Don’t panic if you haven’t used this substitution before, it is incredibly easy.

Ultimate Vegan Christmas Cake

There’s no need for fancy kitchen gadgets here – the cake mixture is made entirely in a saucepan, then poured straight into the baking tin.  Make sure you use your biggest saucepan – when you add the bicarbonate of soda the mixture fizzes up quite a bit, and could cause some serious spillage in a small saucepan!

Ultimate Vegan Christmas Cake

After the cake has cooled and rested for a day or two, it is pricked all over with a cocktail stick or skewer, then your choice of festive alcohol is poured over to soak into the cake, (or just skip this step if you prefer an alcohol-free cake).  I tend to repeat the process three or four times before marzipanning, but it is entirely up to you as to how boozy you like your cake!

So, here’s the recipe, (and make sure you’re following The Veg Space on FacebookTwitter or Instagram, or are signed up for e-mail updates so that you don’t miss Part 2 of this post, which explains how to marzipan and decorate the cake).

5 from 8 votes
Ultimate Vegan Christmas Cake
The Ultimate Vegan Christmas Cake
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
2 hrs
Total Time
3 hrs
Course: Christmas
Servings: 1 x 22cm cake
Author: Kate Ford | The Veg Space
  • 4 tbsp ground/milled chia or flax seeds
  • 225 ml water
  • 800 g mixed fruit (or your own mix of currants, raisins, chopped figs, chopped dates or chopped prunes plus a few tablespoons mixed peel)
  • 200 g natural glacé cherries
  • 175 g light brown sugar
  • 50 g black treacle
  • 340 g dairy-free margarine
  • 500 ml water
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 225 g self-raising flour
  • 225 g wholemeal self-raising flour (or plain wholemeal flour plus 3 tsp baking powder)
  • 4-6 tbsp brandy, amaretto or sherry (check it is vegan)
  • 4 tbsp apricot jam
  • 1 kg ready-made marzipan
  • 1 kg ready-made sugarpaste
  1. Mix the chia or flax seeds with the 225ml water, and place in the fridge.
  2. Take a very large saucepan and tip in the mixed fruit, glacé cherries, light brown sugar, black treacle, dairy-free margarine and 500ml water. Bring to the boil then simmer for 15 minutes, stirring from time to time.
  3. When cooking time is up, carefully stir through the bicarbonate of soda, (the mixture will fizz and rise up the sides of the saucepan so make sure there is enough room to prevent spillages!). Set the mixture aside to cool completely.
  4. Whist you are waiting for it to cool, grease a 22cm round or square baking tin, and line it with a double layer of baking parchment. Preheat the oven to 160°C (fan) / 320°F / gas mark 3.

  5. When the mixture is cool, stir in the chia or flax seed mixture, (which should have turned very gloopy), and both types of flour. Mix well so that no lumps of flour remain.
  6. Tip the mixture into your lined baking tin. Bake for 1 hour, then turn the oven down to 130°C (fan) / 275°F / Gas Mark 1 and bake for a further 45-55 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin. To store until needed, wrap in a layer of baking parchment then a layer of foil and keep in an airtight tin or container.

  7. A few days before marzipanning, feed the cake with brandy, amaretto or sherry by pricking all over with a cocktail stick then pouring over 4-6 tbsp of your chosen tipple. You can repeat this process three or four times for a boozier cake.
  8. For instructions on marzipanning and icing the cake, see my post 'The Ultimate Vegan Christmas Cake: Part 2' (coming soon).


Ultimate Vegan Christmas CakeHop over to Part 2 of this post – decorating the cake.

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And don’t forget that my new book Vegan in 15 is out now… quick, easy and ludicrously vegan meals on the table in 15 minutes.  Many thanks for your support!

Vegan in 15 by Kate Ford



  1. What a lovely cake it looks delicious. I look forward to the finished cake.

  2. Your Christmas cake looks amazing! Brilliant to have a vegan version so no-one needs to miss out on the tastiness. I’ve never tried flax seed or chia as an egg replacer but will have to give it s go!

  3. I love Christmas cake. This looks delicious! I cannot wait to see how you decorate it
    Jo of Jo’s Kitchen recently posted…Simple Cheese & Onion PizzaMy Profile

  4. I am in awe right now. Vegan baking has always really daunted me but you’ve proved vegan baking can be simple but best of all GOOD! You’d never know this wasn’t regular cake 🙂 well done!! Look forward to seeing your tutorial on decorating!

  5. Oh wow Kate, this looks AMAZING! Often we’re warned that flax eggs don’t work so well when you need to replace more than two eggs but, in your recipe, it looked like you successfully replaced 4 eggs. Is that right?

    Love your step by step photos too! Can’t wait to see part two! xx
    Sharon @ Bit of the Good Stuff recently posted…Book Launch Update, Events & GiveawaysMy Profile

    1. Thanks Sharon and thanks so much for sharing! Yes in this case I find 4 chia eggs work fine because its quite a dense, moist cake anyway – I doubt they would work in a light sponge. I’m no vegan baking expert though so would love to learn more! x

  6. You are so super organised Kate. I do like a good bit of Christmas cake and you are absolutely right, why should vegans miss out? I don’t make fruit cakes very often, but when I do I often use a wartime eggless recipe which is delicious. I was just thinking maybe you can get away with not using the chia.
    Choclette recently posted…Giant Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies with a Luscious FillingMy Profile

    1. You’re right Choclette, this would be worth trying without the chia as it is so moist and dense it may not need them in any case. (Though becauase they are good for you I use them as an excuse to eat more cake…. ha!). x

  7. Cake looks amazing but I only want a small one, can I do half quantity in a loaf tin,or small ones in baked bean tins,min which case what would be the cooking times?

    1. Hi Elaine, Yes absolutely, this would work really well in smaller quantities – I don’t know exactly how much cooking little ones would need, but if you keep testing with a knife after 30 mins or so it will just be a case of trial and error. Let me know how it goes!

  8. Mines in the oven now it’s smells gorgeous!

    1. Oh lovely – glad to hear it, let me know how it goes!!

  9. My tin wasn’t quite big enough so I made a mini one too, a good excuse for a taste. It’s an absolute winner! Really moist and full of flavour. I’m going to have to put a padlock on the big one till Christmas.

    1. Oh fab, and nice idea to make a little one as a taster too!!

  10. Hi , how long before Xmas can thus cake be made and how long will it keep once decorated? Thanks ????

    1. Hi Chantal, the cake will keep for months as long as you keep it well wrapped in greaseproof paper and foil, in an airtight container. And you can decorate it in advance too – I’ve only ever decorated mine up to a few weeks before Christmas as I think the icing might turn very hard if left much longer. Hope that helps! Kate

  11. Hi, can I use ordinary self raising flour rather than the wholewheat? It’s just what I have in my cupboard at the moment! Also, can you soak your dried fruit first? I’ve made ordinary Christmas cake in this way already, but my son is vegan so didn’t want him to go without as he loves fruit cake! Thanks, I’m looking forward to making this!

    1. Hi Sarah, yes normal flour will be absolutely fine. There’s no need to soak the fruit beforehand, it won’t really make any difference as the point of boiling it up is to remove the need for soaking in advance. It tastes really good, and is boozy and very moist without needing to soak the fruit. Hope that helps, and let me know how you get on! Kate x

      1. Thanks for your help Kate…I’m going to give this a go!

  12. Hi, I’m in the process of making this cake. I’ve booked my fruits, added the bicarbonate of soda & it is currently cooling. Yet I seem to have an awful lot of liquid still in the mix. Is this correct? Is this quite a wet batter?

    1. Hi Joanne, yes when you add the flour etc it will soak up some of the liquid, it always works really well for me and I’ve made it oodles of times so hope it turns out OK for you. If you haven’t made a boiled fruit cake before it is quite a different process to a normal cake mixture, but stick with it and follow the instructions, I’m sure it will turn out brilliantly!

  13. Wow! Just found this recipe and going to give it a try on Stir up Sunday (I know it’s not a pudding!)

    1. Lovely! Let me know how you get on.

  14. I’m going to make this this year! Could you use an egg replacer (I’ve got loads of Orgran no egg in my cupboard!) instead of flax eggs?

    1. Hi Lynsey, yes Orgran would work really well, as it is quite a dense and moist cake almost any egg replacer will do so I’m sure it will turn out brilliantly. Let me know how it goes! Kx

  15. Hi,
    Thanks for an easy to follow Christmas cake recipe that’s vegan. I just wondered if it would work with the addition of cinnamon or mixed spice? I’m definitely going to give if a go whatever though.

    1. Hi Steph, yes certainly, just add any spices you like – whatever takes your fancy! Let me know how you get on. Kx

  16. I made the cake tonight. I had a little nibble off a corner and it’s so good! I can’t wait to sample the final cake.

    1. Lovely to hear! So glad it has turned out well x

    2. Christmas is over and the cake is gone! People raved about it – even my “real butter and whole milk for baking” sister.
      I had made 5 mini-loaves so I could serve them at two holiday parties and again on the Christmas dinner table. (The other two mysteriously disappeared shortly after my niece arrived. hmmm)

      Thank you so much for this recipe. It will part of our holiday dinner forever.

      1. That’s great to hear, thanks so much Marianne! X

  17. Hi, I made this cake yesterday and it’s extremely moist inside with a sunken middle. I increased the cooking time three times after a skewer came out unclean. After the third time of checking the skewer was clean so I assumed it was cooked. Not sure what I can do with it now. I’m reluctant to throw it all away, not had this problem before. Margaret x

    1. Hi Margaret, sorry to hear your cake took so long to cook – I’ve made it very many times and it has always been ready in the time specified, as it has for other recipe testers, so wonder if it is down to different ovens or something? I would suggest returning it to the oven for even longer if it is still too moist, as it sounds like your mixture is very wet if it has a sunken middle.

  18. Hi,
    I love a bit of spice in my cake. Can I add cinnamon and nutmeg with the flour and reduce the amount of flour a little? Or is the addition of spice in this recipe unnecessary?
    I’m looking forward to making this cake. The recipe is quite different to any if tried previously.
    Many thanks,

    1. Hi Gigi, I think it would be lovely to include spices, and probably no need to reduce the amount of flour. Hope you enjoy it, it always turns out so well for me! Kate

  19. Hello there, pardon my ignorance but is your oven fanforced or not? My old oven died couple of days ago and we have replaced it with a second hand fan forced oven. It was bad timing as I plan to do a kitchen makeover next year and get a brand new oven! Any way enough of my woes. I know that fan force oven have a reduced temp for cooking! I want to make this delightful looking cake so your help would be great!



    1. Hi Susie, Yes sorry I should have said, mine is a fan oven. so for non-fan just up the temperature by about 20 degrees. Kate

  20. I’ve made this cake twice now, the best cake I’ve ever tasted. I also found it was not cookedin the middle even after leaving for 20 mins more. I now know why, I presumed your temperature was for a normal oven and as I have a fan oven I was reducing the heat by 10* . I still ate it though.????

  21. Hello,
    Would it be possible to tweak this recipe? I have left my cake making to the last minute (accidentally), so I wanted to soak the mixed fruit overnight in alcohol. Could I not add the mixed fruit to the simmering step, and just add it in just before the bicarb soda step?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Sarah, I definitely wouldn ‘t skip simmering the fruit, that’s the most important bit to make the cake really moist and tasty. I really wouldn’t worry about having left it late – I would make the cake exactly as per the recipe, then just feed the cooked cake twice with booze in the time you have left – once upside-down so the alcohol soaks into what will end up as the top of the cake, then once the other way up so the alcohol soaks to the bottom. It will still taste brilliant! Happy Christmas xx

  22. Hi Kate
    Happy New Year and thank you!
    This recipe is great. I made an 8″ and 4″ with the recipe as my tins were a different size.
    I wanted to make it in a 25cm/10″ tin. and a 6″/ 15cm tin.
    How would I go about changing the quantities please?
    Many thanks

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